Written by Martin Ochwat

February 8, 2020

If you’ve been on the internet lately you’ve probably noticed that a quick Google search results in more than just links. Today, featured snippets often appear among top keyword results with over 70 percent of featured snippets originating from sites that aren’t in top-ranking positions. Consequently, these snippets end up getting a large portion of Google’s organic search traffic.

Getting your page to the number one spot on Google is an ideal digital marketing strategy, but it can be a challenging task, especially for low-ranking sites. However, by leveraging the power of featured snippets you can level the playing field and increase your chances of reaching position zero.

What Are Featured Snippets?

Featured snippets are short, direct responses that answer search result questions. These questions often include the Five Ws: who, what, when, where, why, and how. 

featured snippets

According to Google, snippets “help people more easily discover what they are seeking, both from the description about the page and when they click the link to read more.” As a result, questions are becoming highly-coveted and frequently-used keywords for optimizing SEO.

Google uses a separate ranking algorithm for featured snippets, which makes them unique. Featured snippet results are pulled from relevant sites with source links, allowing users to easily click on a snippet for more information. 

featured snippet results

But the key to featured snippets is to answer questions that potential customers are asking. And featured snippet content is not just limited to a block of text, but can also include lists, tables, FAQs, and videos.

As snippets become more prominent, it will be essential for you to understand how snippets work

Why Care About Snippets?

If you want your content to appear in search as often as possible, you need to be optimizing this search engine feature. Snippets allow your site to appear in up to two places on the first page of Google (both as a snippet and a regular search result), plus featured snippet content can get twice the click-through rate compared to organic search results.

feature snippet content
Source: HubSpot

Featured snippets are also important for voice search optimization. In fact, the majority of voice search answers come from featured snippets. For example, when you make a voice request for “best razors for men”, Google will respond with the same text in the featured snippet below:

search results

Changes In Google Search Result Pages After Launching Featured Snippets

Google designed featured snippets with its home personal assistant device (Google Home) and mobile voice searches in mind. As more people buy these products, the demand for snippets is likely to increase.

Google also works with manual reviewers to ensure snippets show only high-quality web pages and improves search results by displaying more keywords and snippets in any given search.

How to Check Your Eligibility to Be Featured in Snippets

To check your eligibility, look for search results where Google is already showing snippets before analyzing the schema markup of web pages being featured in the snippets.

Here are some tips for getting featured in snippets:

  1. You will want to use a clear structure when writing copy for your blog or product pages. Using an appendix for longer blog posts is a great way to increase your chances of being featured.
  2. Use a hierarchical structure like heading elements to rank in featured snippets. Google recognizes tables on a page and can pull the information to include in a snippet.
  3. Include named anchors that link to sections of your web page.
  4. Research featured snippet keywords that your page is already ranking for. Consider the user’s search query intent and craft your content to try and appear in more snippets. Your content should be concise and directly answer a question.
  5. Summarize your page’s content at the top or bottom of each page to increase your chances of getting featured.

Try these featured snippets techniques with your content and track your results. If your niche is related to DIY, health, or recipes, you usually have a better chance of appearing in featured snippets as these types of queries are featured most often.

Featured Snippet Formats

There are a few different featured snippet formats, including:

  • Lists
  • Tables
  • Videos
  • Short paragraphs
  • Accordions

With some research, you can find which snippet formats appear most often for keywords in your niche. Let’s cover a few examples:

Lists

Google search results can display ordered or unordered lists that can be randomized (see the coffee maker example below):

ordered list example

Tables

Tables are another form of data that can appear in snippets. These are effective for retail stores that sell products with multiple sizes.

table example

Videos

Results can display YouTube videos when they are most relevant to answer a user’s query. Video snippets can be effective for products that require step-by-step instructions (e.g. how to ride a bicycle).

video snippets

Short Paragraphs

Paragraphs are often short explanations or definitions in response to or answering user searches. These can apply to almost any niche.

short paragraph examples

Accordions

Accordions appear as hidden tabs in the search results. Users click on the tab to access specific content.

Accordions

How to Decide the Best Format

Look at different snippet styles and examples as a guide to select the best format for your target keywords. 

You can also research competitors to see how they’re using snippets and to figure out the types of questions people are asking. Consider using Answer the Public, a free tool for brainstorming questions people ask on a variety of topics.

answer the public

More Techniques to Optimize Your Content for Featured Snippets

  • Use on-page SEO to improve your chances of ranking on the first page; focus your product pages and blog content to answer a question; and answer the question with as many relevant details as possible, especially when using headers. Write short, concise answers to each question.
  • Use high-quality images and videos that add value to your content. Include your markup and format everything with snippets and Google updates in mind.
  • There are many tools available to identify and optimize for featured snippets. Consider using SEMrush or MOZ to check your organic position in search and find the best keywords to get featured in snippets.

These tools have a position tracking tool that provides a featured snippet report to help you find opportunities to rank. It also shows keyword search volume, current organic position, and estimated traffic potential.

Position tracking

Another experimental technique is to use featured snippet HTML code at the top of your blog posts, and you may want to consider applying a format similar to your competitor’s to your own snippets. Don’t forget to submit your URLs to Google through Google Search Console to be crawled. 

code example

A Hubspot study also found that Google will pull snippets from headers on a page with H2s appearing as the snippet title and H3s often displaying as list items. 

Finally, Google seems to prefer list tags for snippets with lists, although HubSpot suggests more research for this assumption.

Quick Notes on the Latest Update by Google for Featured Snippets

The latest Google update for featured snippets includes new developments that help Google better understand relevant search queries. The search engine is also testing a new featured snippet algorithm that will attempt to locate useful and fresh content, though it will continue to pull the most recent and regularly updated information for snippets.

Closing Thoughts

Featured snippets are only growing as a share of search volume, and optimizing your store and blog content for snippets can help you generate more website traffic.

Discover which snippets your competitors are ranking for, and optimize your pages based on those results.

Be sure to answer relevant questions and include an indexed summary at the top of your content. And don’t forget to include high-quality images and video content to help improve the user experience.

By applying these tips, you too can experience the benefits of ranking in featured snippets.