What Are Google Featured Snippets And How Do They Affect SERP Position?

By March 19, 2018 No Comments
What Are Google Featured Snippets And How Do They Affect SERP Position?

Google answers billions of questions every day. Beginning in 2014, the search engine made answer-hunting even easier with “featured snippets.” Featured snippets provide a quick answer in a highlighted box at the top of search results, no clicks required. Most of us have seen a featured snippet, so we know how they affect a search engine results page (SERP) for users. But how do featured snippets affect SERP position for websites trying to rank?

What You Need To Know About Featured Snippets and SERP Position

What Are Featured Snippets?

google featured snippets affect SERP position

Ask Google about featured snippets and you’ll see the tool in action, showing “a summary of the answer, extracted from a webpage.” Featured snippets are answers and information chosen by Google programs for their accurate, concise content. Because they’re higher than all other search results, featured snippets, also known as “answer boxes,” are considered SERP position zero.

Do Featured Snippets Get More Clicks?

It depends. Some SEO experts found that featured pages get three to four times more traffic than they did before they were featured. However other experts found that position zero still got less clicks than position one.

In some cases, the lack of clicks may result from a question being sufficiently answered by the featured snippet. In other cases, the prominence and priority of position zero may drive more clicks if a user needs to read more to get the information they need.

Are Featured Snippets Only For Popular Searches?

google featured snippets affect SERP position

No. Some of the most popular searches are also very general, making it difficult to give any single direct and concise response. In fact, more specific, long-tail keywords generate more featured snippets, particularly questions. For example, the general search for “chameleons” in the example above doesn’t generate a featured snippet, but the much more specific search, “what is the smallest chameleon on earth?” does.

How Many Featured Snippets Are There?

Keyword analysis tool Ahrefs found that about 12% of  their keywords had featured snippets. A separate study by Stone Temple found 19% of question-based queries showed featured snippets, though not all of these included a link to another webpage.

Can a Page Provide More Than One Featured Snippet?

Yes. Some pages connect to thousands of featured snippets. If a page performs well, it’s likely to show up in multiple searches and probably multiple featured snippets.

Are Featured Snippets Always SERP Position One and Zero?

google featured snippets affect SERP position

No. Though the answer box is often an excerpt from the top Google result, this isn’t always the case. However, almost all featured snippets come from the SERP position top ten, the first page of results.

Are Featured Snippets Stealing My Clicks?

Yes.  Ahrefs found that over one fourth of clicks go to a top spot with no featured snippets, where only about 19% go to position one when position zero is hanging overhead.

When you work hard to obtain the top SERP position, featured snippets might seem unfair, especially if the snippet is less helpful than your content. However, there are ways to solve this.

Are Position Zero Spots Permanent?

No. Just like all SERP positions, featured snippets change. A result that answers a question better or provides better information can take over the spot at any time. A featured snippet’s SERP rank might also get thrown out if enough users report that it’s inaccurate or inappropriate, using the feedback button. (But don’t use this to try kicking a legitimate response out of SERP rank zero; attempts to trick Google’s programming have never ended well.)

google featured snippets affect SERP position

How Can I Get A Featured Snippet?

Just like you can’t ask to be position one, you can’t ask to be position zero. And, just like other top SERP spots, Google isn’t giving up the secrets to moving up the ranks. However, SEO experts have studied featured snippets and SERP positions and found a few common factors that can improve your chances of getting featured.

  • Over 50% of featured snippets come from a webpage in SERP spot one or two.
  • Over 36% of snippets respond to questions or prepositional phrases.
  • The answer or data is contained in a short paragraph, list, table, or video.
  • Snippets use good SEO practices like brief paragraphs and organized headings.

Should I Get a Featured Snippet?

Since it’s unclear whether position zero actually generates more clicks than position one, some web authors might not find the extra effort worth it. However, keep in mind that featured snippets are more popular in mobile searches and voice searches, including those made by a digital assistant, like Google Home. As these searches become more popular, featured snippets will become more valuable spots.

Google notes that featured snippets aren’t intended to give users in-depth answers. The search engine’s experts also admit that the snippets chosen by their programs aren’t always accurate or appropriate. However, Google experts are hard at work improving featured snippets, with more functionality on the horizon. New snippets are emerging giving users multiple answers to one question, or giving users options to scroll through snippets. If you have accurate, helpful content at the top of a SERP, you may be able to win a featured snippet position in your industry with just a few tweaks, or even overthrow the current position zero owner by giving a better answer.

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