If you film a product demo or a podcast for YouTube, and you don’t get views, is it anything more than a virtual paperweight? If someone writes a blog and nobody reads it, does it really exist?
You can painstakingly create exceptional content, but your time and effort won’t mean anything if you can’t get eyes on it.
There’s a myriad of ways to draw attention to your website. From tried-and-true SEO techniques to connecting on social media, or even the classic touch of a business card, the choices are vast.
But what if there’s a golden ticket to top visibility? Enter: the Featured Snippet on Google Search.
Below, we’ll unpack this standout method and offer guidance on how to position your content for Feature Snippets. If you’re looking to have your website standout in one of the most sought after placements on Google search engine results pages, you’ll want to read on.
- What is a Google Featured Snippet?
- Why Do Featured Snippets Matter?
- Types Of Featured Snippets
- How To Identify Content With Featured Snippet Potential
- Optimizing Your Content For Featured Snippets
- What Are Some Featured Snippet Best Practices?
- Thriving in a Challenging SEO Landscape
What is a Google Featured Snippet?
A Google Featured Snippet gives you information when you enter a query into the search field.
Note that the snippet isn’t the same as the answer box.
The answer box appears with a simple answer and without a citation. For instance, if you ask when the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series, Google would generate “1992” and “1993” in a box at the top of a page without citations. That’s an answer box.
Conversely, when you click through to the cited website, a snippet gives you a detailed answer. It highlights the extracted blurb–and its location.
Moreover, the snippet link has an anchor tag to take you to the blurb’s precise page location instead of taking you to the top.
Are you still having a hard time envisioning a Featured Snippet? Ask Google, “What’s a Featured Snippet?” and one will appear with the definition and a requisite link. Also, underneath the extracted website text, the snippet will actually say “about Featured Snippets.”
Featured Snippets evolve continually, perpetually adding and trialling new features.
Up to 23% of Google searches yield Featured Snippets. The longer a search query, the likelier it will generate a Featured Snippet.
SEMrush research cites paragraph snippets comprise 70% of Featured Snippets, making them–by far–the most popular. An average featured paragraph snippet is around 249 characters or 42 words.
Why Do Featured Snippets Matter?
Why should your business and brand prioritize Featured Snippets?
Appearing in a snippet means you’re at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). Thus–whether on mobile or desktop–the clickability of your content multiplies exponentially.
Featured Snippets take up significant real estate on mobile screens – around 50% or more of the available space. Thus, Smartphone and Android users have no choice but to see the featured snipper for their query.
Note that Featured Snippets are more prevalent with intent-specific keywords (e.g., long-tail keywords) at a given sales funnel stage.
Types Of Featured Snippets
Before moving on to the next section, here’s a breakdown of Featured Snippet percentages (according to SEMrush):
- Paragraphs make up 70% of Featured Snippets.
- Lists stand at 19.1%.
- Tables comprise 6.3%.
- Videos are 4.6%.
Below is a list of the various Featured Snippet types:
A featured paragraph is the first one that pops into most people’s minds when they think of a Google snippet.
With these paragraphs, Google attempts to answer a search question with extracted text from a page.
Featured paragraph snippets can also be text from a video description.
You’ll see featured number-list snippets explaining how to do something.
Want a recipe for a homemade chilli or Fettuccine Alfredo? Type in “chilli recipe” or “Fettuccine Alfredo” recipe, and Google will generate a numbered list with the recipes.
This notion holds for other DIY tasks. Whenever you ask Google, “How do I?” or “How to…” there’s a strong chance that the results will feature a numbered list snippet.
Imagine you want to know the top expert-rated sedans in 2023. If you take this query to Google, it’ll likely yield a featured bulleted list. Generally, you’ll be linked back to a listicle article.
You’ll typically come across bulleted lists when you want “best of” rankings or generally ranked items. Although, bulleted lists do appear for unranked items and feature lists.
Tables will have pricing, lists, data, and rates.
They’re also precise in providing relevant content based on the user’s needs. A table will organize specific information about the search query and generate its own table (i.e., you won’t find the same table within the linked content).
Paragraph snippets might be the most prevalent of the bunch, but table snippets hold their own.
Tables make up almost 30% of all snippets since Google likes to show them off.
A significant advantage of Featured Snippets is their versatility. You aren’t limited to your website. For example, your YouTube content is more prime material for Google to mine.
Are you not making YouTube videos? We get that it’s intimidating for some, but the medium is always worth exploring, given the results it yields. Check out this helpful how-to video for making excellent YouTube videos for your business.
Here are the scenarios wherein Google will feature a YouTube video in a snippet:
- It might show a specific time-stamped clip from your video.
- Text from your video description might also be used.
- In fact, YouTube snippets can turn up for any query that needs a Featured Snippet (except tables).
Carousel isn’t only the de facto scene title of Don Draper’s finest moment in Mad Men.
It’s also a Google Featured Snippet type.
With carousels, relevant, Google-suggested keywords a user might search for will appear in little bubbles at the top or bottom of snippets.
Upon clicking a keyword, the user will see the snippet content transform into something else. The search results will also change.
The carousel snippet appears when a query requires more intensive research or refinement to offer a concise answer. It also shows itself when there’s a different answer after a refinement.
Moz research cites that around 67% of carousel bubbles appear from websites in the two to ten ranking spots. The last 33% come from non-raking sites. If you missed out initially, the carousel gives you another chance to take some snippet-based real estate.
You increase your carousel viability by ensuring you’re covering your topics comprehensively.
Double Featured Snippet
Google might seem like some omnipotent, ubiquitous, big-brother-type entity. Yet, it’s not all-knowing. It has flaws and can’t always decipher intent and meaning, as seen in how it responds to some search queries.
That said, as proven by the double-Featured Snippet, Google covers its bases, even when it’s not 100% sure about the information a user seeks.
In short, Google displays two Featured Snippets instead of one when the user’s intent is a bit murky. While “unclear intent” can have many meanings, instances include when keywords have multiple interpretations, contexts, and definitions.
Here are a couple of points to keep in mind with double-Featured Snippets:
- They increase your chance of being featured by 100%.
- Spots three through ten experience exponentially reduced click-through rates due to these double-Featured Snippets.
Two For One
The two-for-one snippet might sound similar to a double-Featured Snippet, but they couldn’t be any different.
Two-for-ones occur when Google cites two websites to answer one question. For instance, they’ll take an image from one company’s YouTube video and text from a different brand’s website.
Most queries calling for a two-for-one snippet require answers best conveyed with images.
Do you ever notice a “people also ask” tab popping up when you make a search query?
This feature is very similar to the accordion snippet.
Such a snippet applies to queries involving topics that require more information, and the answer can’t be offered in a paragraph or table.
Accordion Featured Snippets include multiple collapsible tabs.
How To Identify Content With Featured Snippet Potential
If you were starring in a rom-com, Google would be your love interest. You’re courting them in hopes of them featuring your content in one of their highly coveted snippets.
Unfortunately, sending Google a bouquet of flowers won’t work (believe us, we’ve tried!) Even a candlelit dinner will get you nowhere.
Instead, Google seeks specific qualities within the content it intends to feature. Most crucially, the content itself must be of a high quality. The preeminent search engine in the world has a reputation to uphold. It puts the user experience first on its priority list.
Thus, anything less than excellent won’t pass the Google Featured Snippet test.
An appealing, relevant long tail keyword is the other facet of ticking Google’s Featured Snippet box.
Help your cause by discovering a tantalizing long-tail keyword (pertinent to your brand). Then, make your bid for that Featured Snippet-based real estate.
That said, creating high-quality content is a tall order. Attracting Google requires many optimization efforts, which we’ll detail below:
Optimizing Your Content For Featured Snippets
Do you want to get Google’s attention so they’ll feature your content in snippets? If so, the optimization efforts below will prove integral to your cause.
Write Headers As Questions And With Relevant Terms
Questions are Featured Snippet fodder.
After all, Google most often generates these snippets in response to a question instead of more generalized searches.
It’s always wise to ask, “Can I turn this header into a question?”
You don’t necessarily want to force it–the questions must be relevant.
However, let’s say you’re writing something like “The benefits of winter boots.” That can easily be, “What are the benefits of winter boots?” Or “What benefits should I look for in winter boots?”
What would a “forced version” of the above practice look like?
Maybe something like, “Who wants benefits from winter boots?”
While we appreciate the effort and trying to find ways to shape the header into a question, nobody’s going to ask Google such a thing.
Do your best to put yourself in your target customer’s head. What kind of questions would they ask Google about your content’s topic matter?
Remember, too, that Google seeks relevant questions incorporating equally relevant terms.
Type in half a query, and you’ll quickly notice the box below completes that very query with its own predictions. Use that to your advantage to learn the types of questions being asked.
Here’s a list of relevant questions with relevant terms (we’ll stick with the winter boot example):
- Why are winter boots so expensive?
- Can winter boots be used for hiking?
- Do winter boots stretch?
- Are winter boots waterproof?
- How do I wash my winter boots?
- Will winter boots keep you warm?
- When are winter boots necessary?
Other question words include is, which, who, should, where, and does. These will apply to specific terms in your content but not necessarily to our winter boots example.
Implement Paid Tools Into Your Content Workflow
The term “winter boots” used above has its limitations–as do other generic names for products.
“Winter boot” isn’t useless as a keyword by any means, but it’s evergreen and generalized on its own. A more versatile approach is needed to determine more relevant terms to help you reach a more lucrative audience.
More to the point, only specific types of keywords rank for Featured Snippets, and other words don’t rank at all.
Paid tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs provide much of the information required to guide your process. They provide a snapshot of which keywords rank for snippets and which don’t (when another site ranks for it).
Even if budget is an issue, we suggest investing in paid tools. The return typically vastly exceeds the upfront costs.
In fact, these free tools can provide insights into pain points you’ve never considered, going beyond offering keyword information.
Getting to the Point
A paragraph snippet is generally your go-to and what you should often aim for.
Help your cause (and your click-through rate) by providing immediate answers. Don’t beat around the bush–get to the point because it gives the reader/user what they want.
Once you give your target user the goods (a direct answer), you can sprinkle in other details to further engage the searcher, inspiring them to click through.
Note that Featured Snippets only show limited lines of text or tables (54 to 58 words).
Facts and Data Sets
Facts and data sets apply to list-based snippets.
Imagine you ask, “Should I wear running shoes or winter boots?” In this instance, you have a comparison on your hands. You can then ask about weather, terrain, temperature, environment, etc.
The information above can end up on a table.
You could also ask, “What are the different types of footwear?” In this case, you’ll likely get a list or table offering another data set.
Make life easier for Google’s web crawlers by formatting your page with basic HTML tags.
Questions and bullet points require <h2> and <H3> tags. <p> applies to paragraph tags for the text. List items include <ol> or <ul> and <li>.
Lists don’t necessarily have to be ordered, although it won’t hurt if they are.
Content generated in table snippets tends to be snackable, ordered lists.
What do we mean by snackable? We mean easily digestible content that quickly and effectively conveys an idea.
Consider ways to take your current information and repurpose it into snackable lists. That could mean taking non-listicle content you’ve already written and re-writing it as a separate blog–for instance–and turning it into a listicle.
Relevant pictures generate the best results when they’re photos or illustrations. However, infographics or diagrams will suffice if you don’t have the former.
Image Attributes and Entities.
Ensure your images have these attributes and entities:
- Alt tags:
- This written copy appears instead of a webpage image when that image doesn’t load on a screen.
- Title names:
- This is your image’s name. It tells users and Google what the image is (much like alt tags).
- File names:
- Implementing the file name of your image gives Google something else to crawl.
- File formats:
- Knowing the type of image format offers further help when Google indexes your items.
Structured data can be found on around two-thirds of articles containing Featured Snippets.
Search results and structured data go hand in hand.
Structuring data is a concise way to provide information, giving users what they want in seconds. Then, they’ll be enticed to engage with your website–known as rich results.
The optimization tips provided above will give you a significant leg up in appearing in a Featured Snippet.
However, we can’t make any promises. Turning up in a Featured Snippet comes down to various, ever-evolving factors as well as Google’s always-changing algorithms.
What Are Some Featured Snippet Best Practices?
Below, we’ll highlight some best practices to help increase the likelihood of your content appearing in a Featured Snippet:
Do the Research
Dig into the nuances of your desired snippets.
Determine where Google is grabbing snippets from on featured web pages.
Ask, “What type of schema markup does the featured content have?”
It’s time to embrace your inner Sherlock Holmes, investigate these details, and use the information to foster success.
Discover Your Searchers’ Intent
Say your keyword is “Best DIY Christmas Decorations.” The results page will likely generate visual content (i.e., videos and images). Thus, your content must be visual to match your searcher’s intent.
In the above instance, people need images to help with an activity.
Conversely, someone asking for something specific and factual would have their intent matched by a paragraph snippet.
Matching your content with intent gets you ranked and featured in snippets.
Cut to the Chase
In snippets, Google provides short, concise information, especially for voice query results.
So, cut to the chase and get to the point, eliminating needless words in the content you wish to be featured in snippets.
Incorporate a TL;DR Summary
Your most popular pages should have a “too long, didn’t read” summary at the end (or beginning), including the key takeaways. Prioritize information that yields the most conversions and audience engagement (based on your analytics).
This small effort can make a massive impact in ranking you for all manner of Featured Snippets.
Publish New Content (and Add Dates)
Google wants new, fresh content appearing as Featured Snippets. According to SEMrush, articles no more than two to three years old dominate Featured Snippets, as they’re featured 70% of the time.
Prioritize the user’s needs by adding the date to your content since most people want to ensure your information is current and relevant.
Here are the percentages for how frequently dates are displayed in Featured Snippet types:
- 47% of lists.
- 44% of paragraphs.
- 20% of videos.
- 9% of tables.
Commit to Site Structure Optimization
80% of the time, Featured Snippet content will belong to URLs/website links with a structure similar to the examples below:
We don’t necessarily mean there’s a causal relationship here. Having between one and three subfolders won’t necessarily increase the likelihood of having content featured in Google snippets.
Still, it’s worth noting that longer URLs don’t typically get featured, making one to three subfolders a nice, creamy middle.
Thriving in a Challenging SEO Landscape
The current landscape for small business owners and in-house marketers is daunting.
Many fear a recession, meaning customers will have tighter financial belts than usual. Maintaining robust profit margins will require a highly nuanced approach powered by profound marketing insights.
Leveraging SEO techniques–like harnessing the power of Featured Snippets–will prove invaluable in the coming months.
After all, getting more eyes on your brand is the best way to combat challenging economic times.