Do you know that there is a search result position “0” which is above regular position number 1? It is one of Google’s recent (starting from 2013) additions known as featured snippets to show quick answers for qualifying search esquires. It saves time to searchers, gives short answers and encourages clicking to click for learning more about a given topic.
Targeting for featured snippets should be in your SEO strategy when creating content. In this article you will learn what is featured snippet, why it is used, how featured snippets can affect your website, what are types of featured snippets etc.
Table of Contents
What is the Google featured snippet?
Featured snippet is a quick answer to a search query that appears above all other search results on google. It is designed to provide fast answers to users. When there is a featured snippet users will find the exact answer to the question they asked directly inside google without visiting the source website.
It is designed to save time for searchers and provide fast descriptive answers. Because when users navigate to other pages for finding precise answers they will lose time and money for loading other pages and searching for short answers within those big pages.
Google’s featured snippet looks like this. Precise answers that can satisfy user requests. If you pay attention to search query they are similar to questions that are asked via voice search to google assistant. Google can use this answer and convert its text to speech.
How does the featured snippet help the site owner?
Features snippet helps site owner to get more traffic breaking existing competition and get much focused traffic interested in depth information related to given search query.
1) Get more visitors
Your content will be featured above all other results so you are not competing for attention in a traditional way. Your website will be shown above first position in search results. We all know that first position has on average 40-45% CTR (click through rate). Being featured above the first position will grab users attention and can get that much CTR and leave less to other results on the search page.
In other words it will shift regular CTR distribution and pass more traffic to web pages on featured snippets. Regular competition for higher search result positions (SERP) is closely related to the high number of incoming links from other reputable websites. The featured snippet is about having a suitable short answer that can be shown to the searcher. Getting to featured snippets is not related to the number of incoming external links.
2) Get targeted traffic
When a searcher views a short answer in a featured snippet and wants to get more details they will click on a link and visit the source article for more information. This visitor is highly motivated to learn more on your website. Probably they will be interested in related commercial offerings on your website as well.
Types of featured snippets
To target for featured snippets lets learn what types of featured snippets exist. By viewing all available formats we will make better decisions when preparing content for featured snippets.
Here are 6 types of featured snippets:
Paragraph styled featured snippet is text containing exact answer to requested query. It is usually a 40-60 word long text paragraph. This type of featured snippet is most common. Generally definition or description type answers shown in paragraph featured snippets.
List style featured snippets will show 3-6 lines of ordered (numbered) or unordered (bullets) list elements. When a snippet shows some portion of the list users are more likely to click a link to view the rest of the list. It is generally steps of some process or list of items. List featured snippets are the second most used snippet type.
In the table featured snippet data presented 2 or more columns and multiple rows. Queries used to show table featured snippets are clearly indicating that data should be presented in a two dimensional table.
Text featured snippets can have too many rows. In this screenshot you can see that the first 4 rows shown and other 51 rows are hidden and can be viewed by visiting a related webpage.
Video featured snippet is a video from the web page that has the exact answer to searchers query. Generally the answer is more complex and cannot be presented in short text format. Video will cover requested query more widely and satisfy user intent.
In this screenshot you can notice that the answer is within the video and starts at position 2:51. Video has excerpts from the video in the form of text as well.
Accordion featured snippet contains text paragraph and several related subtopics in expansible list style. Also answers in accordion may be from different websites than the main text snippet. Accordion is shown because users who search for the main topic generally expand to related sub topics.
Rich answer featured a snippet that looks like a regular paragraph but with additional elements like photo, calculator, tool, exact short answer. It will feature a very short calculated answer. Generally the answer is some sort of measurement or fact.
How to optimize for featured snippets?
- Find featured snippet opportunity
- Structure page with subheadings
- Format descriptive definition in expected format
Step 1: Find featured snippet opportunity
How to find featured snippet opportunities?
Google does not provide tools for reporting or advising related to featured snippets. All they say is that the featured snippet is selected automatically within content on the page. When clicked on, the featured snippet page will open on the exact location where the snippet is taken from.
Here is how Google explains process of selecting featured snippets.
Featured snippets come from web search listings. Google’s automated systems determine whether a page would make a good featured snippet to highlight for a specific search request.
Knowing types of featured snippets and analyzing data from search results we can use following findings:
- Featured snippets are pulled from page content that already ranks on the first page. Most of the featured snippets are from pages in position 1-5. Your website needs to have many queries in those positions. If a website has few keywords then you need to add more content to your website.
- Question and definition type search queries trigger featured snippets.
- Monthly search volume for query should be less than 100.
Using this knowledge we can search for long tail queries already ranking for position 1-5 using a monthly search volume less than 100 in Google Search Console. If you have a lot of content you can filter results containing question words (who, how, what, where, when, which, why etc.).
If you have not many question type queries ranking on top positions then create more content and keep in mind using long tail question keywords as subheadings in your content.
You can use commercial SEO keyword and reporting tools like Semrush and Ahrefs for easily finding and monitoring queries showing featured snippets on your website.
Step2: Structure page with subheadings
Subheading followed by possible featured snippets is the exact format that google looks for. Format your content using this formula. Restructure your existing popular pages and simply format qualifying areas on it with subheading followed by paragraph, list or table that answers it.
Step3: Format descriptive definition in expected format
Google looks for featured snippets in certain formats. Use google search for similar queries and format your answer in expected format. Generally the most popular format is paragraph, then list style and then table style featured snippet.
Table is generally a data driven featured snippet. Remember that when we optimize our website for mobile devices it is always advised to not use tables. Because they are not responsive and big tables require scrolling sideways on mobile devices. Keep this in mind when formatting your content with tables. Do not use more than 3 columns and always use short text inside columns.
At the end tables are not always evil, sometimes it is easier to show multi column data in tables.
What is the difference between a rich snippet and featured snippet?
Rich snippet is search result in regular (natural) position with additional information like price, image, rating, category etc. Featured snippet is located at the top of the search results page with expected answers for related query. In terms of CTR, featured snippets clicked more because of its position at the top rather than rich snippets.
How many featured snippets can a web page have?
A page can have hundreds or even thousands featured snippets. It all depends on page content. Pages with large content that answers multiple long tail questions will have multiple featured snippets.
What is the percentage of featured snippets per monthly keyword search volume?
|Monthly search volume||Featured snippet %|
Data collected from research done by Ahrefs analyzing 2 million search queries. From this data it is more likely to get featured snippets for long tail search queries with monthly search volume less than 100.
How long does it take to appear or change featured snippets?
It generally takes 3-4 months for content to appear in featured snippets. If you have qualifying content which is not in featured snippets yet or updating existing featured snippets by fixing misunderstanding by google algorithm then within 4 months your featured snippet should be updated.
We learned that featured snippets are some sort of shortcut to appear above all other results if your content is already ranking on the first page in Google. Long tail queries with monthly search volume less than 100 have more chances to get featured snippets. Creating more content covering all possible areas of topic is a secure way to rank for multiple keywords and increase the chance of appearing in featured snippets.
Learn more SEO tips from detailed guide for beginners.