Ever since Google announced the arrival of Featured Snippets back in 2014, digital marketers have been prioritizing these “position zero” spots in their SEO work. The snippets, served at the very top of search engine results pages (SERPs), carry a lot of weight: big-time brand awareness with the potential to drive traffic and conversions.

So, it comes as no surprise that any time Google tests a new Featured Snippets layout, these same marketers get a bit of a chip on their shoulder. It makes sense; after all, it can take a long time to snag that top spot, especially if it’s a competitive search query.

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What’s Been Spotted in Google SERPs  

Over the past few months, there has been increased activity in terms of the Featured Snippets layout. Most notably, we have seen Google showing more than one snippet — up to four different answers at a time.

Here are a few of the search results people have been getting recently:

Featured_Snippets_1

Source

Featured_Snippets_2

Source

As you can see, Google has been testing a variety of layouts for Featured Snippets in search results. It appears the answers are not all the same either, which begs the questions:

  • Are they testing to see how people interact when presented with more options?
  • Will the first answer served inevitably earn the most clicks and traffic?

It’s important to note this is not an official change from Google, but it is interesting to see what they consider to be significant enough to try out with live results.

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Another Test: Perspectives

Multiple answers in the Featured Snippets box aren’t the only test happening. There’s another one we will simply call “Perspectives” because, well, that’s what is served:

Featured_Snippets_3

Source

The title “Perspectives” alludes to less of an official set of answers from Google and more like opinions from various sources. Nonetheless, it remains in the Featured Snippets position at the top of search results, so it gets enough of a vote from Google to place it in a prominent spot.

Another change spotted in Google search results is an expandable dropdown within the snippet being served:

Featured_Snippets_4

Source

In addition to the typical answer box for the search query “grinding coffee”, this Featured Snippet also included a dropdown for Tips, Purpose, and — oddly — Vitamix. Once the user clicked on the dropdown arrows, the answer curated from a separate site would appear.

Again, this mirrors the other tests from Google in that it’s showing multiple answers from different sources. In this case, it’s a dropdown instead of separate “cards” like in the first test we mentioned.

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#1: The Top of the Search Results

Besides paid advertisements, Featured Snippets are the first listings people see on search results pages. Since the primary goal of SEO is to increase rankings in search results, grabbing one of these answer boxes certainly gives you an advantage.  

How much advantage? This study by Ahrefs shows keywords with Featured Snippets take 8.6% of all clicks. The organic search result ranking at number 1 gets 19.6% of all clicks; so, although the first organic listing gets a larger percentage of clicks, the Featured Snippet is still taking some of that traffic.

Average CTR of Featured Snippets

Source

And that brings us to our next reason…

#2: Drive More Traffic to Your Website

With their position at or near the top of the search results pages, Featured Snippets help drive more traffic to the websites associated with them.

In terms of SEO, more traffic gives your website page a vote of confidence in Google’s eyes. It adds weight and influence when it comes to search rankings, which can also lend influence to other pages in your topic clusters.   

#3: Enhance Your Great Results

If your page already ranks on the first page of Google search results, then you are more likely to be featured at the top of that page as well.

It’s a fact: Ahrefs tells us 99 percent of all Featured Snippets are from pages that already ranked on the first page.

So, for your high-ranking pages, it’s even more important to consider Featured Snippets as part of your SEO strategy…simply because they have a good chance of being selected for the answer box at the top.

For example, take a look at the snippet we featured earlier in this post, and you’ll notice it also has the number one spot in the organic search results:

Featured Snippets - Organic Search Results

Source: Google Search

It’s kind of like double-dipping, but it goes to show that you could end up with a Featured Snippet and the first listing on page one. Either way, clicks are more than likely going to your page with this scenario, and that is a great benefit for your SEO performance.

#4: Even Better on Mobile

Mobile devices inherently offer less screen space, so the answer boxes at the top of the page become even more important real estate.

If you can get a Featured Snippet, then your information is likely to show up without the user even scrolling down the page. Instead, they could click-through to your page without ever seeing the other listings.

What About Your Organic Listings?

Of course, these valuable answer boxes steal traffic away from pages in the organic listings. However, it doesn’t have to impact your SEO in a negative way.

Instead, you can use Featured Snippets to create even more traffic to your website, more than making up for the loss you experience in your organic search results.

How do you do it?

Write helpful, valuable answers to questions your audience is asking, in a way that makes them want to click-through to your website from the answer box and learn more.

To learn more about writing Featured Snippets, check out MOZ’s Cheat Sheet.

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Conclusion

While Google clearly has their sights set on expanding the Featured Snippets layout at some point, they haven’t made it official just yet. Digital marketers understand this change would offer more opportunity to appear in position zero, yet also brings with it more competition for clickthroughs, traffic, and conversions.

New layouts in the coveted Featured Snippets section would ultimately change the advantage that marketers now enjoy when that top spot is secured.

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To learn more about Featured Snippets, be sure to read:

About the Author

Rob SandersRob Sanders

Rob Sanders is a digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience. During that time, Rob has helped a wide range of companies utilize new and emerging technologies to increase sales and profitability. As founder of RSO Consulting, Rob helps clients maximize their digital marketing efforts via SEO, SEM, SMO, and Web Analytics. He is responsible for many facets of the web analytics value chain, from identifying business goals and objectives to developing strategies and translating those into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Rob also teaches digital marketing and analytics classes throughout the U.S. and abroad. As a contributor for Simplilearn, Rob creates expert thought leadership content on a variety of digital marketing and analytics topics.

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