You know that Google box that appears in the first place with a ready answer and you want to know how to conquer it? Then this post is for you.
Jorge always positioned himself in the first place with the main keyword of his business.
In the eyes of those who work withSEO, or seek success with digital marketing strategies, Jorge reached the highest point for his keyword. She was Jorge pride and joy.
One day, however, when searching using his word, he came across an unusual situation: inside a box there was a summary that briefly explained the meaning of this keyword.
And worst of all… the box was positioned above Jorge text.
The owner of the contents of that box was ranked seventh in the SERP. But by some kind of witchcraft he was there, above Jorge and occupying two positions on the first page.
First place was no longer enough, now Jorge needed to conquer the Google Zero Position.
Well, if you$0027ve already come across these answer boxes called Featured Snippets you can imagine what Jorge felt.
Or, perhaps, you can imagine what Eduardo felt. He was not quoted in the story, Eduardo is the owner of the blog that was ranked seventh and that now conquered the best position in the results page.
There is also the possibility that you don$0027t feel like either of them, but you still have a burning desire in your heart to conquer that position, to reach the top of the results page.
That exactly what you$0027re going to learn today. We$0027re going to break down what Feature Snippets are and how you can reach Google Zero position.
*My three main sources of information were: this video by Rob Bucci (CEO of STAT), this analysis by Moz, and this incredible analysis by Ahrefs.
What are Features Snippets?
Features Snippets, or answer boxes, are direct and succinct responses to a keyword search.
These boxes are intended to respond directly to the user search objective without him necessarily having to visit any page.
Google is increasingly interested in optimizing the user experience, that is, the faster the reader reaches what he or she is looking for, the better. This is how Feature Snippets or answer boxes came about.
These Snippets appear at the top of the SERPs, above the first organic position, which is why it was nicknamed the zero position.
You probably remember when you were a kid and you$0027d fight for the first place in line to use a toy: “First”, “Second”, “Zip!”
Of course, no one would accept it.
But Google transformed “Cerito” into reality and today Snippets are as desirable as the first organic position.
How do Snippets work?
What many still don$0027t understand is how Snippets work.
Google selects, among the best positioned publications, a short and direct answer to the user question.
The criteria for selection are not yet clear, but we can identify some standards to achieve some of these boxes.
Relationship to first place
Apparently there is no relationship between Google top ranking and Featured Snippets. You can see that in this screenshot:
Despite that, most Snippets come from the top. According to a survey conducted by Rob Bucci team, of all the Snippets found, 30% come from the first place in the search pages.
This means that 70% of the other answers found come from other Google positions.
The number found by Ahrefs$0027 study was exactly the same.
Snippets are definitive answers to specific questions or definitions. Positioning pages, on the other hand, have different intentions: publications are generally complete answers with more information for the user.
That why there no direct relationship between a Snippet and the first place.
There is, however, a relationship with the first page! More than 99% of Snippets come from the first page.
Some people may confuse Feature Snippets with Knowledge Graphs. So I$0027ll highlight the differences so you can understand them.
The figure above is a Featured Snippet for “Eiffel Tower” search. See how under the definition Google quotes the source of the answer by reporting the link.
Now compare with this direct answer from Knowledge Graph when the search was made using the keywords “Eiffel tower size”. This answer is also at the top of Google, however, it is provided by Google itself, which uses information from its own database.
Therefore, as it is a direct response from the search engine, it does not cite any reference.
If you see a keyword whose zero position is a Knowledge Graph, then you can be sure that you will never steal that position
Backlinks do not influence positioning
Based on the studies already mentioned, backlinks probably do not directly influence the definition of a Feature Snippet
Even because, in general, the publications that are better positioned tend to have a higher number of page and domain authorities (whose main factor is the links). And, as we have already seen, page positioning is not the decisive factor in choosing Google.
Is it possible to have more than one Snippet in a publication?
Yes, the same publication can appear in different Snippets.
For example, a post that has the H2: “How much does an iPhone 7 cost” and “What is an iPhone 7” will be able to appear in both searches as Snippet – that is, obviously, if the post was optimized!
What makes them appear and stay on top?
If backlinks and first position are not enough: what makes the Snippet appear at the top?
We have some theories. But first I must tell you that: clicking on the feedback and giving a positive evaluation is useless! When, with Conteudo Marketing, the Portuguese version of our Content Marketing, we first appeared in a Snippet we did that massively and lost the Snippet (laughs). We got it back later! We$0027ll see that later.
Let get to the theories.
The first factor would be the CTR (Click Through Rate). Google evaluates whether a response is good or not by checking the number of clicks it receives. If you have a low CTR, perhaps it is because the definition is not good.
Another (and perhaps stronger) theory is the reduction of CTR on the page. Ok, maybe I$0027ve “bugged” your brain right now. It looks like the opposite of what I said before, but it not!
Think of it this way, Google is not your friend. The Snippets$0027 intention is just to reduce your website click rate! What Google really wants is for the user to get the answer without leaving the search page.
It cruel, I know.
If it any consolation, we don$0027t have any reliable data that this is really the case.
In general, SERPs without Snippet receive clicks 74% of the time. On the other hand, on pages with Snippet the number drops only 4%, that is, 70% of the time the user clicks on some page.
Snippets don$0027t have a very high click rate either. They usually get 8% of the clicks. In general, in SERPs without Snippets the first place gets almost 30% of the clicks.
I bet you didn$0027t see that one coming. I don$0027t think Google did either.
It wasn$0027t this time, Google.
Google, however, says that Snippets serve as a kind of back cover for a book. We know that page is going to talk to us and we choose to read it or not. Read here what Google says about Snippets.
When do Snippets appear?
You may have noticed that not every search returns a Feature Snippet. In fact, most SERPs do not show Snippets in their results.
So, what makes a Snippets appear? What triggers the trigger for Google to deem a response box necessary?
It is not possible to determine the exact factor, but we can identify a certain pattern in the behavior of the search engine.
The high volume of search for a word is not a determining factor. As we will see, “long tail” keywords are more likely to appear in a Snippet.
On the other hand, questions, prepositions and comparisons often attract Snippets.
Beyond that, many of the answer boxes appear for recipes, concepts and lists. For example:
Types of Featured Snippets
There are three different types of answer boxes. And each of them will appear in the most common way according to the search made. Let see the different types:
The vast majority of Featured Snippets are paragraphs. Like the following example:
Snippets appear mostly when it comes to questions and definitions of words. But they can also appear in comparisons and prepositions.
What it is, how to do it, why, who, where, etc. These are some of the questions that usually generate answer boxes.
The second most common way to appear is through lists.
The lists appear, almost always, when it comes to recipes, rankings, step by step, better something (beaches, hotels, players, tourist spots, stadiums, etc.).
An example of a list snippet:
The last guy, who usually shows up less.
Generally, the table or chart appears when a comparison is made, mainly of prices. But it can appear in other situations, such as movie times and even some recipes.
Benefits: why have a Snippet?
You$0027re probably asking yourself: should I worry about having a Snippet or focus my efforts on being in first place?
The answer I can give you is: both!
Concentrate on reaching the top and at the same time optimize your posts to get Snippets (later I$0027ll show you how it worked for us here atRock Content).
Here are the main benefits of having a Featured Snippets.
One of the main positive factors of conquering a Featured Snippets is the credibility that your website will gain. In the end, Google considered you as the best answer to the doubt formulated by the user in the search.
He put you over the top! It like Google saying to the person who did the search: “that the best answer/definition! Those guys know what they$0027re talking about.”
Jump in the SERPs
You can be in ninth place and at the same time have your post above first place.
Featured Snippets can be the simplest and fastest way to climb up Google result pages.
Great opportunities for organic traffic.
Google answer boxes can be a huge opportunity for you to expand your organic traffic, especially if you don$0027t rank in the Google top 3.
At the end of the day, when it appears at the top of the page, the Snippets have great opportunities for clicks.
Competing with giant websites
Do you know those keywords whose content you optimized, on which you made a complete content and got a lot of clicks, but did not leave the site?
Those SERPs that only have giant pages on your front like: Wikipedia, Techtudo, Globo.com, Conta Azul, etc.
Well, the Snippets could be your big chance to be on top of them all. If your publication is optimized for Google to find the ideal answer, you have a chance to beat those giants.
I$0027m already in first place, why a Snippets?
That may be your mentality. “I reached the top, I don$0027t need to worry about Snippets.”
Well, actually, you do. According to Ahrefs$0027 study, the Snippets have stolen, for the most part, first place clicks.
In addition to being a form of attack, Snippets can defend your position and further extend the clicks you already receive.
How to appear in a Featured Snippet?
Well, that probably the main reason you$0027re reading this publication. Despite the relevance of all the data and information I$0027ve cited so far, what really interests you is appearing in the answer boxes.
And if that wasn$0027t what you were interested in, I hope I convinced you with the previous topics.
Now, I$0027m going to show you how to conquer that position which, at present, is highly desired by all those who invest in SEO and Content Marketing.
There is no secret formula. Let build on what Google tends to use as an answer.
And then I$0027m gonna show you what worked for us.
Here we go!
What is the right thing to do?
We know that Snippets are an answer or definition, for some search, that Google chooses in a “more or less” random way.
We say “more or less” because the publications are optimized to be compatible with the answer and thus be chosen. However, that doesn$0027t mean that Google will choose your page and not an equally optimized one.
We will then learn how to optimize our publications. Both the publications that you will still produce, and those that were already produced but did not appear in the answer box.
Let see what can be optimized.
Size of Snippets
One of the factors that will directly influence your chances is related to the size of the Snippets.
If the “optimized” answer is too big, Google won$0027t want to use it, because in the end space is limited. Besides that, very small answers tend not to appear.
Let go through the cases.
For Snippets that are paragraphs the best size optimization would be approximately 45 words. This according to MOZ studies.
The biggest Snippet they found was 97 words long.
Well, since the study was done in English, which generally has shorter words than Spanish, we decided to look at the number of characters.
On average, Snippets have 293 characters. The largest that was found is 752.
The graph below shows the percentage of Snippets of each size according to MOZ study.
That is, try to keep your Snippets to an average of 40-50 words. That will certainly increase your chances.
The lists average 4.2 items and 10.8 words per item. This is worth keeping in mind when you are optimizing your publications.
The largest list found was 8 items and the most words 64. I don$0027t recommend you to risk exceeding the number of words, in case you are interested in conquering an answer box.
Extra tip: worry more about the number of words than the number of items. Some Snippets have a “see more” tag that can expand the CTR of your page.
The bigger the list the better! And try to make it with more than 8 items. In the end, if Google manages to show your entire list to Internet users, why would they click on your page?
Most tables are 3.6 rows and 2.5 columns, with a maximum of 9 rows and 3 columns. That is, in hypothesis, make a table with more than three columns to conquer a Snippet.
The idea is similar to the lists. The more lines, the better. Or Features Snippets will show that there are still items to be seen by the reader.
Another important factor to take into account is that, in the case of tables, Google shows how many items are still to be displayed. In the case of the iPhone, there are 2. In other cases there may be more than 100.
Extra curiosity: if your website is one of those where people can look up prices, or something like that, make those tables. Look, I did a search for “Burger King Prices”
Note that the result is not from the Burger King website. This happens because its content is not optimized for that. Probably if they make a tablet, they$0027ll steal that Snippets.
Other searches like “Outback prices”, “Mc Donalds prices”, “Subway prices”, “Applebee prices”, didn$0027t even have Snippets. I mean, Google probably didn$0027t find any optimized content.
Do you realize the opportunities that companies are missing?
P. D.: In case the person reading this article works in the marketing of these companies, I charge cheaply for a consultancy.
Applications: ready contents
Excellent, we already know the ideal size for the Snippets, now let go to the applications. What can you do to get those Snippets?
- Check all your keywords that are positioned between 1 and 10. Those are the ones that can capture a Snippet.
- See if your publications are optimized to get a Snippet. For example, if the result is a table, make a table as well.
- After adjusting the format to the search intention, update the content. If you$0027re in a hurry, use the Google Search Console to recrawl your content.
- The Snippet can be yours on the same day, but it probably gonna take a while. To get one of the Snippets we got, we waited four months.
- If it takes more than a month, do the steps again. Optimize again and improve constantly until you achieve it.
Applications: production content
When mapping content for your blog, you should already be thinking about where you can capture a Snippet.
It certainly easier to optimize new content than ready-made content.
- Compile a list of keywords from your niche for which you have no position and which already have Snippet.
- Make an excellent content and optimize a piece of your content with formats and sizes (that we already saw) ideal to appear in the SERPs.
Applications: guiding Google
The truth is that Google is still not a great snippet maker. We can see in the example below that some of them still don$0027t make much sense:
The example of Burger King also works. That content is optimized for being a table, but it has no price. Google still chooses some strange results. However it has improved a lot in the last months, we have been following it closely.
So if you see that the search has an answer with Table Snippets, create a table that answers that search on your page as well.
In the case of the lists you can create them with topics and even make them with intertitles. For example, if the title of the publication is “Best bars in Belo Horizonte” and each H2 is the name of a bar, each H2 can appear in the list of results.
In the case of paragraphs, as they usually appear when the search is a question, you should use the answer you want to appear in the Snippet right after the question, which will probably appear in a Heading Tag (h1, h2, h3)
Now let see how our experience went here:
Marketingdeconteudo.com and the Features Snippets
Since we learned about this new way of answering from Google, we have been studying it thoroughly.
We imagined that this could be the big turnaround for the blog and that it would bring us excellent positions and great results.
We then made a table with some of the main publications in which we found Snippets for a keyword.
So, we started to create definitions for each of those words by adapting the definitions to the good practices we saw in the previous topic. At first we didn$0027t see any great results. But after a certain period of time we started to appear in some of those Snippets.
Look at some of them and how they fit perfectly into the practices we explained earlier.
In all of them we put the definition after an H2 with the ideal question to answer the Snippet.
That why we can say that the practices taught – always try to keep the number of words between 40 and 50 and use a good and direct definition – can bring the results you$0027re looking for.
My final advice is: concentrate on getting good positions. Don$0027t change your focus with link building, content promotion, etc., but