Google introduced “featured snippets” in 2017—and marketers have been chasing them ever since.
If you’re not familiar with featured snippets, they represent one of the most significant elements on the Google SERP. A featured snippet provides users with a quick answer to their query, without requiring them to actually click on a hyperlink. For example, if you do a Google search for 33rd President of the U.S., Google will present you with an informational box with Harry S. Truman’s name and picture within it. You don’t have to scroll through any actual search results for your question to be answered.
It’s obvious why these quick-reference listings are helpful for search engine users—but why are they of such interest to marketers? Simple: They rank in position zero on the SERP. That is, featured snippets are displayed before the search results themselves—making this prime online real estate.
And yes, there are ways you can write content that gets your brand into position zero. It won’t be easy—but with the right strategy and the correct type of content, it’s an achievable goal.
Content That Ranks for Position Zero
Here are a few strategies for writing content that will land you in those featured snippets.
Answer Simple, Factual Questions
Featured snippets are most often used to present simple answers to factual questions. Of course, some questions are going to be way too nebulous, subjective, or complicated for any answer to fit within a small Google search box. But if you can identify those basic questions your audience is asking—something as simple as, well, who was the 33rd President of the United States?—you’re on the right track.
Of course, your users probably aren’t looking for information about former Presidents, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t basic questions you’re qualified to answer. For example, if you run an accounting firm, you might answer questions like:
- Where do I get my income tax return forms?
- When will my employer send my W‑2?
- What is the maximum home mortgage deduction?
Identify the questions your audience is asking, then write content that both asks and answers them—as clearly as possible.
Featured snippers don’t just answer questions. They explain how to do things. For example, recipes and step-by-step guides often find their way into position zero.
That’s definitely something you can use to your advantage. Make sure the content you create includes how-to guides and tutorials. Ensure that you format with bullet points or numbered lists. Offer your expertise to readers—because remember: Google is trying to offer its users helpful, substantive information. If you can assist with that, you may get a position zero ranking.
A lot of people use Google as a dictionary—and one way you can get a position zero listing is to define some complex terms, in particular terms that relate to your industry.
For example, a content marketing firm might develop an online glossary, where they define such terms as:
- Pay-per-click ads
- Enterprise SEO
- Google Analytics
- Buyer persona
This is closely related to our first tip, about answering questions—and again, the point is simply to provide users with clear, quick answers to their questions.
Many search engine users are seeking a particular product—and they want to ensure that the product they select is the best of its kind. So, offering top 10 lists and best-of recommendations can be another good way to make it into those featured snippets.
Are you a used car dealer? Write a blog post where you list your top 10 small sedans. That’s just one example of how best-of lists can help you rank for position zero.