What is a Featured Snippet?
To cite Google’s preferred definition, “Featured snippets are highlighted excerpts of text that appear at the top of a Google search results page in what is known as ‘Position 0’. They provide users with a quick answer to their search query. Featured snippets are more likely to appear when users enter informational search queries.”
Why Do You Want a Featured Snippet?
Well, that’s space on Page One, baby…and you want as many spaces on that page as you can get. But grabbing that featured snippet can be harder than you might think; and that’s because there’s a lot that go into them.
How to Earn a Featured Snippet
Number one, you need to have schema…small snippets of information about specifics on any page of your website. That is how Google understands, in greater detail, what any individual page is about. In the past, schema was the only way to earn a featured snippet in that coveted ‘Position 0’ but, as Google AI and machine learning has gotten better and better, we’ve seen the introduction of Passage Indexing.
Originally, Google ranked an entire website for a particular keyword. Then, it got down to an individual page ranking for a keyword. And now, you have an individual excerpt from that page ranking on its own. So, Google’s process has been distilled down to that finite level and if they think your page offers a specific answer to a specific question, they will showcase that answer in ‘Position 0’.
Now, it’s fantastic to earn that sought-after position (since it’s ranked even higher than ‘Position 1’) but does it actually drive more traffic to your website? The answer is “not necessarily”.
The Effect of Featured Snippets on SEO
If Google is offering up the answer – from your website – and making it so easily accessible, people who feel it answers their question may not visit your website at all. They may not have any reason to click “Read More…”
So, it’s fantastic to have ‘Position 0’ but it shouldn’t be the end-all / be-all goal of your SEO, or content marketing activities. Yes, you definitely want to have informational, query-based content but make sure the entire piece is useful. And make sure that you’re giving people a reason to come to your website to become customers.
You see featured snippets on almost every Google search you perform. They’re highly-coveted, hard to earn, and the factors involved in earning one are constantly evolving. In the past you’d need structured data (or ‘schema’) present throughout your site to help Google better understand your content. And while you still should…the introduction of passage indexing has streamline Google’s process, allowing them to more easily find specific answers to specific questions within specific passages. Just remember, while earning a featured snippet is a good thing – there’s no assurance that it will actually drive traffic to your website. In fact, if your answer is good enough, it could do the exact opposite. For that reason, earning a featured snippet should not be the focus of your efforts.