What Is a Featured Snippet?

what are google featured snippets

What Is a Featured Snippet?

If you’ve ever heard someone in digital marketing refer to a featured snippet, you probably know what it is and just don’t realize it. Featured snippets are the target of many SEO campaigns, as they generate a huge amount of organic search traffic if your website can land a featured snippet. Read on to learn all about what these snippets are and how you can rank your website for one.

What Is a Google Featured Snippet?

Have you ever searched a question and the answer appeared in a box at the top of the search results? That’s a featured snippet. Featured snippets provide answers to search queries without having to click through to the website.

Google Answer Box

People who are unfamiliar with the term featured snippet may also call it a Google answer box. This isn’t the technical term, but it gets to the heart of what a snippet is. The point of a featured snippet is to give searchers an answer to their question. Google is always looking to improve its site to provide the best, most relevant information for its users, so the featured snippet box is one way that they provide answers more easily.

Google answer box can also refer to another type of answer that does not have a link. This is not the same as a featured snippet. An example is this mathematical conversion box, which provides the answer searchers were looking for, but does not link to another site.

google answer box

Google Position Zero

Those in the world of SEO and digital marketing may also refer to a featured snippet as Google’s position zero. This has to do with search engine rankings: position one is the first result, but featured snippets appear before position one, making them position zero.

High search engine rankings are what SEO works towards, so a featured snippet is ideal. People are more likely to click a featured snippet rather than scroll down to find another website, so ranking for one is extremely worthwhile.

Featured Snippet Example

For reference, this is an example of a featured snippet from our client website, Social Buddy. This snippet also shows a featured image. Not every search query has a featured snippet; it’s more common to see featured snippets for searches phrased as a question, or for listed answers.

featured snippet

Why Are Featured Snippets Important?

Featured snippets are important because they receive the bulk of the search traffic for those searches. Research from Hubspot has shown that featured snippets get a 2x higher click through rate, meaning that you can steal a major portion of traffic from other results when you have position zero.

If you want to drive relevant traffic to your website, getting a featured snippet for a question related to your industry can go a long way.

Types of Snippets

Not all featured snippets look the same, and not all content or searches can become a featured snippet. A study from Ahrefs estimates that about 12.29% of all search queries contain a featured snippet. While that may not seem like a huge number, featured snippets have actually been on the rise in the last few years, as Google tries to provide answers more quickly to its users.

The main types of snippets include paragraph snippets, list snippets, and table snippets. There are also featured images and videos.

Paragraph Snippet

A paragraph snippet is the most basic: the given example above was a paragraph snippet. These featured snippets give an answer in short paragraph form. Some paragraph snippets include a featured image as well. Paragraph featured snippets are the most popular form, making up over 80% of all snippets according to GetStat.

Paragraph featured snippets tend to be about 50 words long, around 272 characters on average. Google often pulls snippets based on the headers they appear under, so it can help to have the question you want the snippet for as a header with a short answer underneath.

List Snippet

Featured snippets also come in list form: either numbered or bulleted. These lists often appear for searches including terms like “best” or “top”, as many articles list the top products in list form. Here’s another example from Social Buddy:

list snippet
Table Snippet

Table snippets provide even more information than a list, and Google tends to pull this data from tables that are already created on the website it links to. A table featured snippet tends to include more data or statistical information, like this one:

table featured snippet

Featured Image and Video Snippets

Very often, any of these types of featured snippets have a featured image included. The featured image is not necessary from the same website as the snippet, and very often comes from a competing website.

Featured videos are often pulled in from YouTube if Google believes that the video best answers that question. Since some tutorials are better seen than read, certain search queries will result in video snippets rather than text, like this one:

featured video snippet
How To Get a Featured Snippet on Google

Theoretically, anyone can get a featured snippet on Google. In practice, it isn’t always so easy. Google wants to provide its users with the best possible answers to their searches, so you must have quality content marketing to make it into position zero.

More than that, SEO experts will tell you that it’s no small feat to get close enough to get a featured snippet. Search engines rank results based on over 500 factors, so your website must be in top shape to get in the top results or the featured snippet spot.

Who Gets Featured Snippets?

Any website can get the featured snippet with great content and SEO. In terms of search engine rankings, however, most snippets go to a result that is already on page 1 for that keyword.

Research from Ahrefs shows that 30.9% of featured snippets are already the first search result, and 99.58% are in the top 10 results. Before you can push for a featured snippet, you’ll have to push for a page 1 ranking.

featured snippet rankings

Source: Ahrefs

What Searches Get Featured Snippets?

As we’ve said, not all searches get featured snippets – only a little over 12% of all keywords. Long-tail keywords are more likely to have a featured snippet position than larger search terms, so targeting low-hanging fruit and long variations tends to work if you’re aiming for some snippets.

Usually, searches in question form or those that can be answered in list or table form get featured snippets more than other searches. Ahrefs compiled a list of words that are most likely to be included in featured snippets, which you can see here:

featured snippet search terms

Source: Ahrefs

As you can see, recipes make popular featured snippets, as well as questions, comparisons, and best/top lists. Why “windows” and “chicken” are included so often is beyond me.

Featured Snippet Optimization

There are a few tips to optimize for a featured snippet position. Google provides no surefire way to get your website a featured snippet, but based on research, there are certain ways you can improve your chances.

  • Use keywords, search terms, and “people also ask”. Keyword research will reveal what people are searching, so it makes good sense to use those keywords and search terms in your content to optimize for a featured snippet position. Google’s “people also ask” box is a good clue as to what kinds of questions may lead to snippets, and often these boxes have a snippet of their own.

people also ask featured snippet

  • Put the search term in a header. H2s, H3s, and H4s are picked up by Google, and often these can trigger a featured snippet. Place the question you want the snippet for in a header, and then answer the question below it to optimize for position zero.
  • Answer in a snippet format. If you want a list featured snippet, then obviously you should make your content work in a list to improve your chances. For paragraph featured snippets, stick to the ~50 word count and answer the question succinctly.
  • Optimize for CTR. Featured snippets are great to have, but if you answer the question in its entirety in the snippet, people won’t click through to your website. This means you won’t get any actual traffic from the snippet. Provide enough information to be helpful, but try to grab the readers attention or leave a piece of information out so that users click your link to read more.

Need Help Getting Featured Snippets?

Getting a featured snippet takes time and effort. Contact SEO Digital Group for help with all things SEO and content marketing.

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