Every change or modification made to the core Search Algorithm is done by Google for one single purpose; to help users find the answers to their questions quicker.
Each major algorithm update has had this central motive behind it and of late, what seems to be appearing regularly for more and more question-based keywords, are Featured Snippets. These snippets are Google’s answer to a user’s specific question and will appear above all the other search results and just below the Ads. In SEO circles, these Featured Snippets are known as Position Zero rankings.
Usually, Google pulls this data from the content that’s already ranking on Page 1 of the SERPs, but if there is a result lower down that more accurately answers the user’s question, then there have been instances of lower ranking results appearing in the Featured Snippet section as well*.
Google does this for the reason mentioned at the beginning – to help a user find an answer as quickly as possible. If that means seeing it directly and not having to click through any of the Page 1 results, then so be it.
Some of the intangible benefits of appearing in the Featured Snippet section are:
- They give the impression that your website is ranking in the #1 position
- Featured Snippets take up a LOT of space on the SERPs – giving your brand even more real estate to stand out.
- The snippets are not connected to ad spend. So, like the organic results, with the proper technique, your brand might be able to appear in this section as well.
- Lastly (and possibly most importantly) you don’t have to be dominating your industry in order to appear in them.
Let’s now dive deeper into the ‘proper technique’ outlined in point #3. Using Mondovo, there is a fairly easy way to uncover:
- Which of your keywords have the potential to appear in the Featured Snippets section
- Which of your competitor terms can you target for the same purpose (thereby outranking them without much effort)
Step 1 – Competitor/Keyword Research
Run a Competitor Keywords report in order to pull all the terms your site is ranking for. Re-run the report for all your competitors as well.
Step 2 – Select the Keywords
Once the Competitor Keyword report is ready, tag all the terms you think are relevant (Quick Tip: filter for keywords ranking in the Top 20, this should get you the most relevant keywords). Repeat this step for all your competitor reports as well. As an alternate, you could also find your list of target keywords from our keyword research tool.
Step 3 – Run an On-Demand Rankings Report
Open the On-Demand Rank Checker and in the set-up form, import all the keywords you’ve just tagged using the option in the form itself. After fully setting up the form, run the report.
Step 4 – Show relevant columns
Once the On-Demand report is ready, navigate to the Keyword Rankings table. Click on the ‘Show / Hide Columns’ filter at the top of the table and ensure that Search Volume, Difficulty & Result Type are checked. In the same drop-down menu, scroll down and select the Answer Box option.
The “Answer Box” in this case is the equivalent of the “Featured Snippet”. With this checked, you’ll be able to view all keywords that show a Featured Snippet.
Step 5 – Filter the Results
Next, click on the Answer Box filter and set-up the filter to only show you keyword results that appear in the Featured Snippets section.
If you’ve done everything correctly, your final table should appear something like this.
Step 6 – Filter for your non-Featured Snippets
Click on the Result Type filter under your brands URL and set-up the filter to only show Regular results.
Step 7 – Shortlist the Target Terms
With the table finally ready for analysis, we need to look at the two columns highlighted in the screenshot. The red box relates to the search results in general i.e. the terms shown all do appear in the Featured Snippet Section. The orange box shows you which of your keywords are not appearing in the Featured Snippet section i.e. are appearing for the keywords as regular search results.
With this understanding in place, let’s now look at two techniques you can use to shortlist the terms to focus on:
- Keywords where you’re already ranking in the Top 10 but don’t have a Featured Snippet ranking. Difficulty of the keyword is immaterial here because you’re already in the Top 10.
- For other keywords where you’re not in the Top 10, you could use a combination of the Difficulty Score and current keyword ranking. To do this, after you’ve worked on the Top 10 ranking keywords, filter the table to show the keywords where you’re ranking outside of the Top 10. Then, using this new filtered set of terms, do a double sort; first by Current Ranking Position (in ascending order) and then by holding the Shift Key and sorting on Difficulty (also in ascending order). You can then easily choose keywords based on this new priority.
With the terms in place, you can now work towards creating content specifically for the Featured Snippet section. If you’d like more information or help in creating this content, let me know. Our team of content writers is more than capable in turning your long-tail, question keywords into snippet optimized content that Google will love.