How to Rank in Position 0 with Google’s Featured Snippets

Although Google's Featured Snippets have become more popular than ever before in search queries, more and more people are wondering how on earth they can actually get them to appear in their search results. It's become quite obvious that Google is making use of an algorithm to choose appropriate snippets to feature, which is why SEOs want to know how everything works. How does the search giant choose which one to display?

Concrete Facts

SEOs already know that Snippets come in many forms. However, your content has to provide the answer in the 'correct format,' which varies according to a range of specifications in Google's algorithm.

Snippets can consist of:

  • Ordered or unordered lists
  • Text
  • Tables
  • Charts
  • Images
  • Knowledge graph

It's also a known fact that any site can earn itself a Featured Snippet. This is one time where large sites and brands don't have an advantage over smaller counterparts. In addition, sites that have their Snippets featured can enjoy a few benefits, including:

  • They gain more visibility in Google's SERPs
  • They get to enjoy increased levels of site traffic
  • They earn additional credibility and trust from the search giant

Potential Issues

The Featured Snippets have a few issues that complicate the overall analysis process. Snippets are delicate creatures in that if they are visible in a search now, they may not always be visible in the same search at a later stage. They also have the ability to impact organic CTRs. Sometimes they can increase a site's CTR – for instance, if the site is ranked fourth or fifth on a page, the Snippet can help improve visibility. However, this can go the other way as well in that Snippets can decrease CTRs because searchers got their answers from the Snippet itself without having to click through to the site itself.

Theory 1 – Snippets don't get featured Based Solely on Organic Search Ranking Factors

Although Google takes Snippets from page 1 of search results, this only happens approximately 70% of the time. However, the shocker is that the other 30% of Snippets can come from anywhere between position 4 on page 1 right through to results found as deep down as page 71. If Google's algorithm only relied on traditional search ranking factors, it would simply choose the first piece of content it could find to convert to a Snippet. This is not happening though.

Theory 2 – Providing Snipp-able Content Matters

The beat way to try and get a featured Snipper for a site is to aim for a description of between 40 and 50 words. The site's content must also be in the right format for Google to consider snipping it. However, it's still unclear regarding how Google chooses which content to snip.

Engagement Metrics May Play a Part

In a 2007 Interview with Marissa Meyer regarding how various items get featured online based on click-through rates and discussing the OneBox, she said, "We hold them to a very high click-through rate expectation and if they don't meet that click-through rate, the OneBox gets turned off on that particular query. We have an automated system that looks at click-through rates per OneBox presentation per query. So it might be news that is performing really well on Bush today but it's not performing very well on another term, it ultimately gets turned off due to lack of click-through rates."

Featured Snippets provide another reason to focus on engagement rates. Site owners need to have multiple snippets and access to all of the CTR data in order to see what is happening in this regard. It is impossible to crawl a site to discover what its engagement metrics consist of.