Forget #1 — these days, it pays to be #0.

If you’re in the content marketing game (and these days, who isn’t?) chances are you’ve joined the masses scrambling to earn a #1 SERP ranking. But what if we told you the best place to be on Google’s result page isn’t the #1 slot — it’s #0?

In recent years, Google has been tweaking the way it presents information to its users in an attempt to provide them with the most relevant information as quickly as possible. As a result, the number of featured snippets on Google’s search result pages has increased dramatically.

But what are these snippets, and how can you snag a spot? The answer is simpler than you might think.

What’s the Deal With Featured Snippets?

You may not be familiar with the term “featured snippet,” but chances are you’ll recognize one when you see it. Say, for example, you search “how to write a blog post” on Google. Here’s the first thing that will pop up on the page:

Look familiar? That’s because these boxes of text — which always show up right below any extant ads or sponsored posts — are becoming more and more common in Google’s search results. Although these snippets are the first thing to appear on the page, they technically have a SERP ranking of ‘zero’ because they appear before the #1 organic listing. You can find snippets under a wide range of potential searches, but they almost always pop up in response to a question-based query (how-to articles are a great example), and can either appear in list or paragraph form.

The way the boxed-in text itself is chosen is simple: Google aims to provide its users with the most basic, condensed answer to their questions. For listicle-type formats like the one pictured above, Google will simply lift the bulleted text and insert it into the featured snippet.

The Most Effective Strategies to Get Your Content Featured

You might think these coveted spots are available only to SEO experts, but the truth is, anyone can snag a featured snippet if they have the right information. Although there has been some debate as to precisely which metrics control whose snippet gets chosen, one thing is clear: the higher quality your content, the more likely you are to earn that coveted spot. Outside of well-curated content, if you’re going after a high SERP ranking, it’s always useful to consider what questions people interested in your industry are asking. The better you can predict trending topics, the more likely your content is to rise to the top of the pile. As a bonus, if you want to be featured by Google, it’s useful to create content that has a clear and concise answer format, so their software can easily parse the salient points.

Be careful, however, not to let your brand’s voice get lost in the shuffle — you can certainly tweak your content to improve your chances of getting a featured snippet, but stay true to your beat. Believe in your brand, be bold, and remember: with a lot of hard work (and a little luck), you’ll be #0 in no time.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer search engine optimization and analytics services to help businesses transform their websites into visible sources of knowledge online and answer the questions that matter most to your prospects. Learn more about SEO and analytics here.

Author Jamie Ayers

A graduate of Skidmore College, Jamie works at L&T as a content strategist, account manager, and editorial lead across a wide range of industries and fields, specializing in the digital economy, experiential marketing, and campaign-led initiatives. His other interests include electronics, Agatha Christie novels, and being outside.

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