Featured Snippets: The Latest SEO Holy Grail

You’ve probably seen them on your latest search engine journey or discovering new recipes – designated boxes of content that appear before all organic URLs on the results page.

These are the featured snippets, and they’re one of the most important new(ish) features in the search engine space. 

Today we’re talking about these special content blocks and giving you some tips on how to get your brand’s web pages into this highly sought-after spotlight.

What Are Featured Snippets?

We’re all familiar with the layout of the search engine results page. Typically some sponsored content at the top, followed by the best-ranking URLs that match the keywords in your query.

The introduction of featured snippets changed the landscape of the SERPs, curating blocks of content from authoritative web pages to answer your questions immediately and upfront.

According to Ahrefs, over 12% of all search results contain some form of featured snippets, and that number is on the rise as users seek more specialized answers and info.

These snippets are often in normal paragraph form (over 80%), but they may contain lists, DIY guides, tables, and charts. 

Basically, featured snippets take the most relevant info and make it bite-sized for easy access, saving users time and effort in the search process.

What’s the Difference Between Featured Snippets and Position Zero?

The terms position zero and featured snippets are often thrown around interchangeably, and that’s because they more or less refer to the same idea.

More specifically, position zero refers to where featured snippets are located on the results page. Since they are visible before the first-ranked result, we call that spot position zero.

Still, you will hear both terms used regularly to describe curated content that ranks before all of the organic search results.

Why Do Featured Snippets Matter?

Any change to the Google algorithm is a big deal, especially when the change impacts the way that users view and engage with content above the fold.

The main reason featured snippets matter so much is pure visibility.

Simply put, very few search engine users “dig deep” into the results, likely as a matter of time and convenience. It’s rare for users to scroll down beyond the first few search results, and even less common to click beyond page one.

In other words, users want the fastest, most complete answers to their questions, and that’s exactly what featured snippets are designed to do. 

This has major implications for your brand’s digital marketing efforts. 

If you can lock down some of this valuable position zero real estate, you’ll enjoy way more page visits, time on page, and conversions.

Data compiled by Ahrefs shows that while featured snippets have a lower click-through rate than the top-ranked URL, they still get nearly 9% of the clicks, which is no small feat.

On top of that, featured snippets tend to “steal” clicks away from the leading URL, meaning your page can be way more competitive than was previously thought possible.

The bottom line is that featured snippets help build your brand’s authority in the minds of the general public, get more eyes on your content, ultimately helping to drive traffic and sales.

Featured Snippets and Mobile Search

Now that more than half of all web searches are conducted via mobile devices, featured snippets matter more than ever.

Mobile users move fast and are even less inclined to spend time scrolling through the SERPs, meaning they will rely more heavily on the information shown in position zero.

If you are aiming to increase your levels of mobile traffic, featured snippets offer you a great path forward, so be sure to take advantage of every opportunity to grab that zero spot.

Featured Snippets and Voice Search

Closely related to mobile search is voice-activated search, where featured snippets dominate.

Because so many voice searchers are hands-free, they expect answers to be read aloud, and those answers are almost always curated from position zero content.

When voice search does lead to clicks, the featured snippet is even more likely to be chosen.

As more users become comfortable making purchases via voice activation, you’ll be positioned to boost conversions directly from voice search. Not bad!

Millions of users are adopting voice search each year, and you don’t want to miss out on connecting to this fast-growing segment.

Tips to Rank for Featured Snippets

You may assume that a page already needs to be top-ranked in organic search to secure a featured snippet spot, but that’s not the case!

While 99% of featured snippets come from top-10 ranked pages, your page can jump to the top when optimized correctly. Here are some suggestions:

  • Reconfigure content to include focused, concise answers to commonly-asked questions.
  • Restructure data points into charts or tables that can be easily crawled and indexed.
  • Expand your keywords into conversation “long-tail” phrases that reflect real speech.
  • Take advantage of bullet-point lists and top-tens that deliver clear information.
  • Focus on developing DIY guides and how-to style content that offers real help.

One of the best places to start is in the FAQ section of your site, which goes ignored far too often. These pages are a goldmine for featured snippet content if organized correctly.

Also, aim to include key terms such as “best”, “most”, “vs” and other definitive language that is likely to trigger featured snippets. This will require you to do some hands-on testing to see what types of questions the world is asking about topics in your niche.

Keep in mind that most featured snippets are in the 40 to 50-word range, so aim to keep your targeted section of content around that length, Neil Patel says. Over 60 words and the dropoff is steep, so trim some fat if necessary.

Featured snippets are available all over the web, and you have a golden opportunity to outcompete bigger brands in your space if you take optimization seriously.


There’s no way around it – featured snippets are the new SEO Holy Grail!

It’s your role as digital marketers to identify where your brand can take these key position zero spots and dramatically boost exposure in the search results pages.

Embrace the trial-and-error process, optimize your content for concise, accurate answers, and enjoy the benefits of being ranked above the rest.


Search Engine Journal

Neil Patel