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Being in the top positions of search results has always been a major priority in SEO, but since the implementation of Google’s featured snippets also known as position zero, many SEO specialists began to shift their efforts towards this new desired position. All this, of course, led to the development of different strategies and tactics aiming to increase the chance of ranking for position zero.
However, just like other Google tools, featured snippets have become more challenging with time, and nowadays, it is much harder to rank for it than it was years ago. This has to do not only with the growing competition but also with the regular Google core updates, which typically affect most rankings. To help you with all these challenges, we are going to discuss how to write rich snippets in 2020, and we’ll also uncover some secrets of becoming eligible for position zero.
Before we dive into the technical stuff, let’s first understand what rich snippets are and what is it about them that makes all marketers target their efforts on them. For SEO newbies, a snippet is a short answer box, which appears in search engines as a result of users’ queries. Meanwhile, rich snippets typically refer to the extra useful answers which provide lots of different information within one answer.
Here’s a great example of a rich snippet to the query of “Banana Pudding” which not only tells you about the desert ingredients and its calories but also provides you with a list of popular recipes on banana pudding with users’ reviews as well as baking time. In other words, you get plenty of useful information for one simple query, and that is what makes rich snippets stand out from ordinary results.
Generally speaking, featured snippets typically occupy a decent amount of space in search results, which means that even visually they already get a lot of attention; but that is just one part of the benefits. From SEO’s standpoint, featured snippets generate lots of traffic as well as some percentage of clicks. In fact, Ahrefs recently analyzed 2 million featured snippets and found that websites that have featured snippets usually get about 31% more traffic than those without them. Moreover, they also found out that 8.6% of all clicks go to the snippet and that it actually steals traffic from other organic results. In other words, featured snippets come with a bunch of useful SEO opportunities that you shouldn’t miss.
We’ve already mentioned the impact of Google’s updates on featured snippets, but now we want to specifically address the massive change that came with the release of the January 2020 core update. In short, the big news was that pages could no longer rank both for the featured snippet and for a regular position on page 1. This, of course, created a lot of discussion in the SEO community while also causing major ranking deduction for millions of pages that heavily relied on being ranked for two positions simultaneously. Moreover, some websites were even pushed back to the second page, losing lots of traffic and other SEO opportunities. With that being said, it’s also good to mention the positive impact of the update, which is that now there is one more available spot for other websites to rank on the first page.
Now that we have covered the fundamentals of featured snippets let’s find out what are the most important aspects of writing strong snippets in 2020.
The first of writing snippets starts with in-depth keyword research and identification of your position zero opportunities because not every query has a featured snippet, but for that, you need to have a clear topic in mind. It’s recommended to start with the keywords and terms that you already rank well so that you have better chances of being featured. Once you identified the topic or terms, it is now time to evaluate your opportunities. For that, you can use such SEO tools as Moz, SEMrush, and Ahrefs which can help you find keywords that don’t have a snippet or SERP feature yet.
If you’re new to the SEO world, then one of the most important things that you need to know and remember is that ‘content is king.’ To be more specific, quality content significantly impacts your website authority and rankings, including your chances of being featured in position zero. Therefore, if you want to rank for featured snippets in 2020 or for page 1 results, you need to make sure to create quality content; that is informative, relevant, authorized, engaging, and gives value to the reader.
Besides that, another critical factor is also the formatting of your content, which plays a big role in featured snippets ranking. Since there are many different types of featured snippets, the structure of your content should also correspond to the type of snippet you want to rank for. For example, if you want to rank for list snippets, then your answers should also be in a list with numbers, and the same concept works with the other types of snippets. Here are some general guidelines on how to structure your content so that it is appropriate for featured snippets:
• Write descriptive headers and use header tags H1, H2, H3.
• Have short but well-structured sentences with clear answers.
• Use numbers, bullets, tables, graphs, lists, etc.
• Add relevant visuals to the snippet query you’re answering.
With the growing popularity of mobile searches and the rise of voice assistants, optimizing your content for voice search has become a must if you want to be noticed on the internet. In fact, it is predicted that this year, 50% of all internet searches are going to be voice-based, which means that if your content is not optimized for voice, then it is losing its chances of being featured. One of the most important things you need to remember about voice searches is that they typically differentiate with their conversational language style like “Ok Google, should I take an umbrella today” as well as with the frequent usage of question words such as ‘Where’, ‘How,’ ‘What’ etc. This means that if you want to be featured in voice search results, then you should optimize your content with conversational language; more specifically with long-tail keywords. By the way, Q&A or FAQ format content is especially helpful in this case.
As you can already tell, there are various important elements that go into writing rich snippets, eligible for position zero in 2020. From in-depth keyword research to content optimization for voice search, all of these actions have a direct impact on your featured snippet ranking chances. What is more, if you decide to miss one key step, you might risk losing all of your chances for position zero. In other words, when it comes to ranking for featured snippets in 2020, you need to do anything, and everything as the stakes are higher than ever.