Featured snippets are a powerful SEO tactic to acquire more clicks to your website and boost your branding.
People trust Google, and businesses ranking on the top in organic search automatically earn the searchers’ trust.
Therefore, companies spend thousands of dollars in SEO to optimize their website to appear at the top of the organic SERP for their primary keywords.
Now, imagine if your business can earn a spot above the first position in the organic SERP. This is what the featured snippet does. It helps your business achieve position zero (above the first ranking website in the organic search results).
Hence, featured snippets optimization is crucial to elevate your branding and supercharge your SEO campaign.
In this comprehensive guide to Google featured snippets, we will learn what are featured snippets? discuss some brilliant examples of featured snippets, and discover some exceptional strategies to help you optimize your site content to earn the maximum number of valuable featured snippets for your website.
What Are Featured Snippets?
A featured snippet is a part of Google SERP. It is a piece of content that appears at the top of Google search results, also known as position zero. This snippet of content quickly answers a search query. It also provides the page URL from where the content snippet is fetched, along with its publication date and the page title.
The content in a featured snippet is automatically pulled from web pages in the Google index. Google analyzes the search query, tries to match the results that answer users’ questions, and picks the best piece of content from existing pages to improve the searcher experience.
There are different types of featured snippets that appear on the top of the search results. But, before we understand the types of featured snippets, let us first find out why they are so crucial for SEO.
Featured Snippet Example
Here is an example of a featured snippet for the query “highest-paid athletes in the world”:
Why Are Featured Snippets Important for SEO?
A featured snippet is essential because it allows you to secure the most trusted position in Google SERP.
As featured snippets appear on top of the search result page, it gives your content pieces maximum visibility.
They also contain a link to your website. Therefore, it increases the organic traffic to your pages that are ranking as featured snippets.
Featured snippets also increase your credibility by presenting your website as an authority on your targeted seed topics.
Here are some advantages of featured snippets:
- It improves your CTR (click through rate) because, as we know, featured snippets are created to provide users direct answers to their queries, but they might be looking for more detailed information, and as your page is on top, users are more likely to click on your website.
- Voice assistants like Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa pick text from featured snippets to answer users for voice search queries. Therefore, ranking as featured snippets helps improve your voice SEO.
- If your website is chosen for featured snippets by Google, it is a good sign that Google likes your content. You can replicate the content style on other pages to earn even more snippets for your website.
- Featured snippets are very beneficial for ecommerce stores because if product FAQ pages get ranked as featured snippets, users are more likely to click on the search result to know about the product features and pricing. As a result, the chances of product sale increases.
- Ranking on featured snippets is helpful for new or low authority websites because it is easier to rank on featured snippets as compared to organic results. This means you don’t need to be in the first position of Google; just try to steal position #0 to acquire more clicks to your site.
Top Featured Snippets Stats
Here are some of the top featured snippets stats to inspire you to acquire more position zero results for your website:
- 19% of search results (SERP) have featured snippets.
- On desktop and mobile SERP results, it is found that 79% of SERPs have the same domains in featured snippets.
- 7.3% of SERPs have double featured snippets.
- 70% of snippets are paragraph featured snippets.
- 19.1% of snippets are list featured snippets.
- 6.3% of snippets are table featured snippets.
- 4.6% of snippets are video featured snippets.
- Travel niche has the biggest number of featured snippets on SERP with 62% share, and entertainment is the second category with a higher number of featured snippets (59%).
- The Real Estate niche has the least number of featured snippets.
- 77.6% of questions starting with “why” have a featured snippet.
- 70% of articles in featured snippets results were published in the last 2-3 years.
- 80% of featured snippets come from URLs of sites with 1 to 3 subfolders or subcategories.
- All the ranking websites under featured snippets use the HTTPS security protocol.
- The average word count on a website page with featured snippets is 1100.
- 66% of sites with featured snippets use structured data.
- The average number of headlines on featured snippet pages is 14.5.
- Features snippet page contains an average of 8 images with ALT tags.
- 17.1% of featured snippet results are made with over five words, phrases or queries. Also, 4.3% of featured snippet results have single word queries.
- 55.5% of featured snippets results come from long-tail keywords (up to 10+ words).
- Wikipedia is the top domain that has acquired the majority of featured snippets on search results.
- It is found that 50% of mobile screens are covered with featured snippets.
- Featured snippets get 8.6% of clicks as compared to the #1 organic position with 19.6% clicks.
- Only 1.6% of featured snippets are acquired by “Preposition” keywords or queries.
- Words that have the greatest percentage of featured snippets are:
- recipe: 2.3%
- best: 2.3%
- vs: 1.4%
- make: 1.3%
- It is found that 24% of users avoid clicking on featured snippets because they think it is an ad.
- Featured snippets under People Also Ask receive 6% of clicks.
Types of Featured Snippets
There are several types of features snippets that Google displays on the search results, depending on the type of information a user is searching for.
Here are the four prominent types of featured snippets:
Let’s understand each of these featured snippets with examples.
1- Paragraph Snippets
Paragraph snippet, also known as definition snippet, is one of the most common types of featured snippets. These are generally 40-60 words long.
Paragraph featured snippets show brief definitions and answers of users’ questions or topics in paragraph format.
For some queries, users look for additional information related to a topic, and here paragraph featured snippets are useful.
Paragraph snippets provide direct and concise answers to the searcher’s query.
These snippets answer the question immediately and then include additional information that entices the searchers’ interest and encourages them to click through.
For example, we enter the query “when were the first recorded Olympics held” Google returns a featured snippet bolding the date ‘776 B.C’ when the first Olympics was held in Greece. The snippet also contains a link to the page from history.com where the information is present.
Paragraph snippets are often returned for question-based keyword searches.
The common question words that generate a paragraph featured snippet are:
- How to
- Who is
- What is
- Why is
- When did
- How can
- Who was
- Is the
- Where did
To improve your site’s chances of appearing in paragraph snippets, you can add FAQ style content to your primary landing pages. These are perfect for answering multiple short questions. You can also create dedicated blog pages for covering various topics in your niche to provide direct answers to common questions that people might ask.
2- List Featured Snippets
Google presents lists featured snippets when the user is looking for steps to complete a task or searching for a list of things.
In such cases, Google extracts lists from ordered or unordered lists on a webpage.
Here is an example of an unordered list featured snippet that shows a list of best places to visit:
Here is an example of an ordered list featured snippet that shows how to lose weight fast:
Lists featured snippets can be bulleted or numbered lists.
Moreover, these lists are often incomplete within the featured snippet, which encourages the searcher to click through to see the entire list.
3- Table Featured Snippets
The table featured snippets are used to present a series of data to make the content easier to read and understand. It is helpful for users who are looking for data in tabular format.
Table snippets contain content such as comparisons charts, years, prices, rates, and other numerical data.
For example, when we enter the query “top 100 companies in the world by market cap”, Google returns a table featured snippet that contains a numbered list of rows:
When we enter the query “Android vs iOS”, Google returns a comparison table:
4- Video Featured Snippets
For some queries, videos offer the best answer to the user’s searches. The primary source of videos in the featured snippet is YouTube.
The video featured snippets are best for how-to queries. These snippets are shown in two ways. The first one is the suggested clip which is shown as a featured snippet. The second one has rich results.
Moreover, to provide relevant video snippets to users, Google loads a section of the video that contains the answer to the user query.
Here is an example of the video featured snippets for query “how to tie a tie”. You can see from the below screenshot that Google highlights the section of the video that contains the steps to tie a tie.
Here is an example of a video rich snippet for the query “how to create cheese board”:
Google also shows snippets in the “People Also Ask” section. Here is an example of a snippet displayed under the PAA box for the query “how to make jello shots”:
Therefore, you can also try to get into the snippets returned by Google under the People Also Ask section.
How to Do Keyword Research to Find Queries That Are Eligible for Featured Snippets?
Keyword research is a crucial step to find keywords that return featured snippets. It also helps you find what type of content is already ranking on featured snippets and what kind of information you should include in your content.
The two ways to find the right keywords for featured snippets are:
- You can manually search queries and see the results on Google SERPs. Type in the keywords that you want to build your content around. Check if the Google result page shows any featured snippet for that keyword phrase. If not, then change your keyword phrase and check again. This step is time-consuming but suitable for beginners who don’t have a budget for a paid tool.
- You can also use paid tools, such as Ahrefs and SEMrush, to find keywords that help you rank for featured snippets. These tools help you to analyze long-tail keywords that have the lowest competition and find the types of snippets that rank for certain queries. They also allow you to monitor your performance once you have created content around those keywords. This process is recommended because it saves time and gives you the best chance to outperform your competitors.
Using SEMrush To Find Featured Snippet Keywords
You can use SEMrush to find keywords for featured snippets.
Log in to SEMrush and enter your seed keyword.
For instance, I wish to find all the relevant featured snippet searches for my primary keyword, “fat loss workout”.
I enter the keyword, and the tool will show relevant keywords ideas.
Now, I select the featured snippet filter under “Advanced Filters > SERP Features”.
Now, I have all the keywords that are ranking on SERP under featured snippets related to my primary search query.
For example, keywords “best workout for fat loss”, “fat loss workout at home”, and “workout routine for fat loss” all are ranking for featured snippets.
Similarly, you can perform your keyword research to find the best key phrases to get your site ranked as featured snippets.
Remember, keyword research is vital to find out the type of content that you should create to get noticed.
With the help of keyword research, you can figure out queries that are ranking for featured snippets.
How to Optimize Your Content to Get Featured Snippets?
Here are some of the best ways to optimize your content and increase your chances to get your content into featured snippets:
1- Use FAQ or Question-and-Answer Pages
Around 77% of queries triggering featured snippets start with a “why” term. It shows that a greater majority of searches that return featured snippets are formulated as questions.
Google returns your content as a featured snippet if it provides a direct answer to the user’s question.
Therefore, one of the quickest tricks you can apply to win featured snippets is to include Q&A pages on your website. These pages should provide valuable and direct answers to different questions.
Here are the best practices to follow while including Q&A and FAQ pages in your websites:
- Ensure that your Q&A & FAQ pages include all relevant questions. Each question must be well-formatted with a complete answer.
- Structure your answers to be precise and provide a direct yet complete answer to the user question.
- Avoid writing long answers that might confuse the users. Remember, long-form content is useful for ranking on position one, but for featured snippets, shorter content performs better.
- Avoid using metaphors or humor-based answers on such pages.
- Include links in your answers, whenever required, to offer background information or context.
- Formulate a question for the user in a traditional fashion, such as formats used in Wikipedia or a dictionary.
When you format your FAQ and Q&A pages for readers first, you increase your chances of getting on the front page of Google and as a featured snippet.
2- Include Question Keywords in Your Content
Include long-tail question keywords in your blog posts, service pages, and product pages.
For example, instead of targeting a specific keyword such as marketing, it is better to consider the long-tail key phrase such as “how to do marketing research.”
Following this style will increase the chances of your regular blog posts and service pages to start ranking for featured snippets.
3- Structure Your Pages With Relevant Headings
By structuring and organizing your pages with headings and paragraphs, you can improve your chances of earning featured snippets.
Include relevant headers and subheaders in your content and provide direct answers under each section.
For example, when we search “workout routine for fat loss”, Google displays the heading along with the answer.
Follow these practices to improve the structure of your page:
- Use heading and subtitle tags <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, and <h5> to include keywords used by users when they conduct searches.
- Place the content you want to appear in the featured snippet in a <p> tag directly below the header.
- Keep the paragraph-style answers 54-58 words long.
- Use bullet points and steps to improve the content flow and clarity.
4- Organize Your Content in the Form of Lists and Charts
Certain questions require a more in-depth explanation, which can involve a step-by-step process. In such cases, page structure and text format are highly crucial.
Use bullet or numbered lists to improve your content flow as users love to read steps or points related to the topic.
Here are the ways to organize the text on your page:
- Use <ol> for lists with a certain order. For example, the steps to prepare food.
- Use <ul> for lists that do not follow a specific order. For example, a list of exercises.
- Use <table> to organize data in rows and columns. For example, a table of products and their respective prices.
Remember, list featured snippets are the second-largest featured snippet type after paragraphs, with a share of 19.1%. Therefore, you should definitely optimize your page content for list snippets.
5- Optimize Your URL Structure
Optimized URLs have a higher chance of ranking as a featured snippet.
You should avoid having a URL depth of more than three pages.
For instance, subfolders are usually placed after forwarding slashes in the URL.
Here is what they look like:
- A URL with zero subfolders looks like domain.com. It is the root domain.
- A URL with one subfolder is domain.com/subfolder.
- A URL with two subfolders is domain.com/subfolder1/subfolder2.
A very long URL is unlikely to get a featured snippet. Around 37.3% of featured snippets link to a URL containing two subfolders.
Therefore, it is better to have one or two subfolders in your URL.
Here is an example of a clear and intuitive URL structure:
6- Prepare High-Quality Content
Google prefers high-quality content that is relevant to users when it comes to featured snippets.
Around 70% of featured snippets are paragraphs, over 19% lists, 6% are tables, and more than 4% are videos.
Therefore, keep your content concise, accurate, clear, fresh, and engaging to increase your chances of getting your content in the featured snippet.
7- Improve Your Google Ranking
As per a study by Ahrefs, more than 99% of featured snippet pages already rank in the top 10 SERPs in Google for a search query.
Google’s first page has a list of the top ten most trusted and relevant content on a particular topic. Therefore, It is highly unlikely to get your content ranked as a featured snippet if you do not rank on the front page of Google for the target query where you are looking to earn a spot as a featured snippet.
Hence, you should optimize your existing content to rank higher on SERP to improve your chance of earning the reputed featured snippet for your seed keywords.
8- Secure the Featured Snippet That You Already Own
In case your content already ranks in a featured snippet, try to secure that place. You can use SEMrush to find the list of keywords that you rank for.
Once you find keyword phrases that you rank for in a featured snippet, ensure that your page continues to rank for all the selected featured snippets by keeping your content up to date.
9- Use Structured Data
You should add structured data to your website as structured data helps Google recognize your content in a better way and also rewards your page with rich snippets like reviews, recipes, and events.
Structured data helps to improve your SERP visibility and appearance that can increase your chances of acquiring a featured snippet.
To check whether your website is using structured data or not, you can use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
Simply enter your URL and run the test.
Google will show all the structured data.
10- Create Videos to Capture Featured Video Clips
Creating SEO optimized Youtube video content offers an untapped opportunity to control more snippets on SERP.
Optimizing YouTube videos for organic visibility is very similar to any SEO process.
Therefore, you should create more video content and publish them on YouTube.
Make sure to follow the video SEO best practices, such as adding your primary keyword in the title, a detailed description of the video that contains your priority keywords, and adding clickable timestamps that would make it easier to navigate to the most relevant section of the video.
11- Add Table of Content
You can also use Table of Content at the start of your content to tell Google about all the potential featured snippets paragraphs within your content.
For instance, you can add heading and subheadings under the Table of Content (TOC) section with links to anchors.
When a user clicks on these anchors, they will directly be taken to that section.
Here is an example of Table of Content:
Not only for acquiring featured snippets, but TOC also helps you provide a better user experience.
12- Use “What Is” Heading
You should always use the “What is” heading in your content to acquire more featured snippets.
Here is how you can use it:
“What is [keyword]”
Here is an example:
As we have already discussed that paragraph featured snippets have the highest number of visibility on SERP. So, this can send clear instructions to Google that this text can be used for featured snippets. The best practice is to write 40-50 targeted words related to the query or keyword.
As you can see from the example screenshot, the provided answer for the query “customer relationship management” offers a simple, short, and easy to read explanation of the concept.
13- Add Images
More and more snippets are visual these days. Therefore, you should always add relevant images to your target landing pages to raise your chance of featured snippets ranking.
Here is an example of a relevant image being displayed beside the featured snippet text:
To avoid losing clicks and brand visibility, ensure to always include images in all of your web pages as part of your content optimization efforts.
How to Block Pages From Appearing Under Featured Snippets?
Sometimes, you might not want your pages to get displayed under featured snippets. In such a case, you might want to opt-out from featured snippets.
Now, why would you want to do that? A possible reason might be to get the number one ranking instead of the position zero ranking.
Once you decide you need to block your pages from appearing under featured snippets, you should know the actual position of your website ranking.
To check your actual ranking, you can add &num=9 at the end of the Google search URL.
Let’s understand this with examples.
Here is the search result for the query “benefits of green tea” without using &num=9:
As you can see, healthline.com is ranking as a featured snippet.
Now, if we add &num=9 at the end of the URL, Google does not return a featured snippet but instead returns the actual ranking position of healthline.com, which is the number one position.
As you can see in the above image, healthline.com is ranking in position one.
So, once you decide that you want number one rankings for your keyword and you check that you are already ranking on number one without the featured snippets, then you can safely opt-out of featured snippets.
Sometimes you might want to exclude some pieces of text from appearing as featured snippets. Whatever be the reason, there are several ways to remove your pages from featured snippets.
Here the several ways to opt-out of featured snippets:
1- Use Data-nosnippet Tag
Google offers a “data-nosnippet” tag that can prevent specific parts of the page from appearing in featured snippets.
You can add this tag to part of the page that is ranking for a featured snippet. The tag placement can be in div, span, or p element.
Here is how it looks if you want to get rid of the featured snippet:
<p>This text can be shown in a snippet
<span data-nosnippet>and this part would not be shown.</span></p>
2- Use Max-snippet Tag
For any page that you wish to prevent from appearing in featured snippets, you can set a max-snippet tag with a maximum number of characters you’d like to allow for a snippet.
But, Google doesn’t provide any exact character count for featured snippets because the length of snippets can change based on device types like mobile or desktop, language, and user query.
Here is the syntax of the max-snippet tag:
<meta name=”robots” content=”max-snippet:150″ />
If you add the above code to any page, then Google may not show your page as a featured snippet when their system is looking for more than 150 characters of information.
Let’s suppose your page is about a “list of safest cities”, and your content is best to show as a featured snippet as per Google automated systems. But, if the max-snippet is added to your site with a character count less than what Google needs, then your page might not appear as a featured snippet.
You can try and test different character counts like 50, 100, 150, and so on. The shorter the character count, the fewer chances of the page to appear as a featured snippet.
Google Policies for Featured Snippets
To help users take advantage of only relevant and helpful content in the featured snippets, Google’s system is designed to prevent results that violate their policies for featured snippets.
Since featured snippets are easy to rank for and get the highest visibility, webmasters are tempted to engage in practices that violate Google policies.
Therefore, Google remains strict on the kind of content it displays as featured snippets.
Here are several types of content that are not eligible to be displayed under snippets:
- Dangerous content
- Harassing content
- Manipulated media
- Deceptive practices
- Hateful content
- Sexually explicit content
- Health and medicine related content
- Content related to violence
- Content that depicts terrorism
- Vulgar language and profanity content
Which Type of Featured Snippets Can Be Removed?
Google may remove featured snippets if they don’t follow Google guidelines and policies.
To improve its algorithm, Google takes help from users by allowing them to report or provide feedback on featured snippets.
Users can report or share their opinion on any featured snippet, which helps Google improve its search algorithms.
After users report any featured snippet, Google manually reviews the snippet, and if it finds it violates any of its policies, Google might remove that featured snippet from the search results.
Moreover, if Google finds that the reported featured snippet is not following its policies, the entire site will not be eligible for featured snippets.
How to Report a Featured Snippet?
If you face any issue with any featured snippet or want to give your feedback, you can click on the “Feedback” button available below the featured snippet as shown in the image below:
Once you click the link, you get a popup window with some options like what you think about the featured snippet, along with a section to add comments or suggestions.
After submitting the request, Google manually checks and reviews the featured snippet for possible violations.
How do you optimize a featured snippet?
There are various ways that you can use to optimize for featured snippets. Some of them are:
- Adding related questions to your content.
- Adding images in your content.
- Using proper headings and subheadings in your content.
- Adding structured data to display content in the form of lists and charts.
- Writing short, clear, and accurate answers.
How does a featured snippet work?
Google’s automated systems check webpages for users queries, and if it meets their guidelines, then Google displays that webpage under featured snippets.
Are featured snippets paid?
No, you can optimize your content to get featured snippets without paying any fee to Google.
What are the types of featured snippets?
There are four types of featured snippets: Paragraph, Lists, Table, and Video featured snippets.
How many clicks do featured snippets get?
Featured snippets get around 8% of clicks.
As Google is focusing more on user experience, featured snippets will continue to evolve. Until Google stops sending high-quality clicks to our websites, we need to continue optimizing content for new search elements like featured snippets that provide relevant, helpful, and accessible answers to users’ queries.
Follow the tips mentioned in this featured snippets optimization guide to acquire more clicks to your website and raise your online profits. Remember, content quality and presentation both play a vital role in getting your prominent landing pages ranked as featured snippets.