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How To Get a Featured Snippet

You’ve worked hard to get your content into the top ten Google Search results. But now, you’ve got your eyes fixed on getting to the very top of the page by earning a featured snippet. What’s it going to take to get there? Keep reading to learn the strategic principles and best practices for how to get a featured snippet.

Dec 3, 2022

8 m read

Google is constantly innovating to improve its user experience. One way it’s doing that is to feature special snippets above the standard Google search snippets on search results pages (SERPs). The increase of featured snippets that Google is serving in response to search queries has many marketers and site owners wondering how to get a featured snippet for their content.

I’ll explore featured snippet best practices below, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. To get started, let’s look at what exactly a Google featured snippet is.

What Is a Featured Snippet? 

A Featured Snippet is an excerpt from a web page that appears at the top of Google’s search results to quickly answer a user’s question. Google automatically pulls featured snippet content from a page already ranking on the first page of the search results for that keyword. 

Types of Featured Snippets 

The first step to learning how to get featured snippets is to understand what types of snippets Google features in search results. 

If you’re wondering what is Google snippet percentage breakdown, the most common forms of featured snippets are:

  • Paragraphs
  • Lists
  • Tables
  • Videos
most common types of featured snippets
Based on research conducted by SEMRush in partnership with Brado.

Paragraph Featured Snippets

Paragraphs are the most common type of featured snippets. They provide a direct answer to a search query and are often displayed alongside an image. (More on images in featured snippets below.)

example of a paragraph featured snippet

List Snippets 

Lists that rank items, step through a process, or group items in response to a specific question, are a very common content type and are often pulled into featured snippets.

There are two types of lists you might see in Google featured snippets — bullet lists and numbered lists.

Bullet List Featured Snippets

Bullet lists might include ranked or unranked items, “best of” lists, lists of product features, or items in a category. 

example of a bullet list featured snippet

Numbered Featured Snippet Lists

Numbered lists are often used to rank items or list out the steps in a piece of “how-to” content — like a recipe.

In the example illustrated here, it’s easy for searchers to see that the content on this page will take them step-by-step through the process of changing a flat tire. They’ll likely click through to view a more detailed set of directions or instructional photos.

example of a numbered list featured snippet

Table

Table feature snippets help searchers visualize data for easy comparison. It’s not unusual for Google to truncate the rows of a table and indicate there are more rows on the destination page.

example of a table featured snippet

Google doesn’t recreate the exact table from a page. Rather it pulls in the HTML for the table and reformats it for consistency in SERPs. 

Video

YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of examples where Google features a video snippet in search results. There’s no special category reserved for video snippets. Google will present a video in a featured snippet whenever it can provide the best information in response to a given query.

example of a video featured snippet

Featured Snippets: How Do They Impact Search?

Earning a rich snippet can boost a top-ten-ranking page to capture “position zero,” which refers to the spot above position one when a featured snippet is present. 

In other words…

A featured snippet isn’t a tool to improve ranking. Rather, it’s a tool to maximize the traffic for a page that already ranks well.

Note: Not every SERP will have a featured snippet. 

Although it’s possible that searchers will get what they need from a featured snippet without clicking through, the brand exposure and topical authority you earn by occupying this spot make it well worth the effort to get there. 

Providing the foundational elements of your on-page SEO are in place, such as crawl accessibility for indexing, keyword research, and high-quality, search-optimized content, taking the extra steps to earn SEO snippets is an excellent way to boost organic traffic for your primary keywords.

A 2020 study on featured snippet click-through rates highlighted in Search Engine Watch shows that when a featured snippet is present in search results, it will capture more than 35% of the clicks. 

How To Get a Featured Snippet 

Before I dig into some of the specific tactics about how to get a featured snippet in Google, I want to start with three foundational principles that will form the building blocks for a successful strategy.

Featured Snippet Optimization Strategy

  1. Listen to Google

Google will show you exactly what type of snippet you should be targeting for your page based on what’s presented in the currently featured snippet box. 

If the current snippet is a paragraph, aim to replace it with a better paragraph. If the current snippet is a list, target it with a list of your own.

If there’s no featured snippet for one of your target keywords, Google isn’t interested. The search results for each and every query will not present a featured snippet opportunity. 

Although there are snippets tools available for large-scale snippet optimization, my advice is to approach featured snippet optimization strategically and focus on the pages that qualify according to the standards I list below.

  1. Be Concise

The best snippets organize relevant information and present it in the clearest possible way to answer a specific question. Google doesn’t want to waste real estate on filler words. Get straight to the point. 

Feature snippets allow for 40-50 words of text with no more than 300 characters. If you’re optimizing for a paragraph snippet, observe that character limitation.

Note: snippet length limits don’t apply to list or table snippets. Google will truncate your content and alert searchers that there’s more on your page.

  1. Follow Google Guidelines for HTML Markup

Google has specific recommendations for how to code your web pages. The most important elements for featured snippet optimization are: 

  1. Monitor Featured Snippet Performance

Once you’ve optimized your pages to earn featured snippets, you’ll want to watch your results. Remember, watching what doesn’t work helps you learn just as much as watching what does work.

How To Optimize for Featured Snippets

Implementing changes to your web page in hopes of earning a featured snippet isn’t difficult — especially if you’re using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress. The changes you make to your page might include:

  • Adding content.
  • Adding metadata such as an H1, page title, and meta description.
  • Adjusting formatting, such as adding strong tags.
  • Adding images.
  • Adjusting image alt text.

HTML Markup for Featured Snippets

Header Tags

Google will weigh the copy used in your header tags as a clear signal of the importance of nearby text. 

If possible, use the featured snippet keyword you’re targeting within an h2, h3, or h4 near the text you want to be used for the featured snippet. 

how to code for featured snippets

Learn more about header tag SEO here.

Strong Tags

Commonly known as “bolding,” the strong tag emphasizes text, not just for readers but for search engines too. Google’s John Mueller recently confirmed that the search engine understands bolding to indicate an emphasis on the text it’s applied to.

So if you want to…simplify it to a one-word answer, does bolding important points on a paragraph help the SEO. Yes, it does. It does help us to better understand that paragraph or that page.

That being said, there’s value to bolding the target keyword within the text that’s being optimized for a featured snippet.

example of a featured snippet with bolding

HTML Lists

If you’re targeting a snippet that’s presented in a list format — bulleted or numerical — make sure you format your snippet text with the proper HTML. 

Bullet List HTML

<h2>11 Audiobooks for Your 2021 Road Trips</h2>

<ul>
  <li>The Great Alone</li>
  <li>The Boys In The Boat</li>
  <li>The Flight Attendant</li>
</ul>

Numbered List HTML

<h2>How to Change a Tire in 10 steps</h2>

<ol>
  <li>Find a safe place to pull over.</li>
  <li>Use your hazard lights and parking brake.</li>
  <li>Loosen the lug nuts</li>
</ol>

Note: If you have a list that’s structured with header tags and contains additional text, Google can generate a condensed version of the list to create a featured snippet.

HTML Tables 

If you’re hoping to earn a featured snippet in the form of a table, make sure your target text uses a properly structured table in HTML. This is a great resource to learn more about how to do that.

<h2>Big Tech: The Full Picture</h2>

<table>
  <tr>
    <th>Company</th>
    <th>Revenue</th>
    <th>Market Cap</th>
 </tr>
 <tr>
    <td>Apple</td>
    <td>$260.2 billion</td>
    <td>$1.58 trillion</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td>Amazon</td>
    <td>$280.5 billion</td>
    <td>$1.44 trillion</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td>Alphabet</td>
    <td>$161.9 billion</td>
    <td>$1.02 trillion</td>
  </tr>
</table>

Videos

To increase your chances of earning a featured video snippet, I recommend you do these three things:

  1. Host your video on Youtube.
  2. Add chapter breaks with timestamps.
  3. Upload a full transcript. 

You can learn more about how to optimize your videos for Google featured snippets here.

Images

Add an image on the page that you’re optimizing that visually represents the idea of your target keyword. Make sure that the file name contains your keyword, and incorporate your keyword into the alt text.

example of a featured snippet with an image

Remember, you do not need to use schema markup to qualify to earn a featured snippet. Basic HTML, implemented correctly, can help your high-ranking pages reach position zero in search results.

Schema markup is necessary to earn rich snippets, which is a different type of Google search feature.

Featured Snippets FAQs

Can a page rank for multiple keywords featured snippets?

Yes! One page can appear as a featured snippet for multiple keywords. However, I don’t recommend that you intentionally target multiple keywords when you’re optimizing your pages for featured snippets.

If you’re working with a group of semantically-related keywords, a best practice is to target the keyword with the highest monthly search volume that currently shows a featured snippet in search results.

I’ve found that sometimes customers who follow that best practice might simultaneously earn SEO snippets on the same page for lower-volume, semantically similar terms.

What makes a page qualify as a featured snippet opportunity?

When you’re assessing which of your pages you should optimize for featured snippets, I recommend you prioritize pages for which you can answer “yes” to the following questions:

  • Is your page already ranking on page 1 for the keyword?
  • Is there a featured snippet currently being displayed at the top of the keyword results?
  • Is your page not currently displayed in that featured snippet?
  • Does the search intent of the keyword match the content on your page?
  • Is there existing content on the page that you can adjust to meet the standards for a featured snippet? 

How often do featured snippets fluctuate?

Change really is the only constant in search, so the most honest answer to this question is, I don’t know. With 5.8 billion new blog posts (not to mention core web pages) being added to the internet every day, it’s tough to predict if and when one of them might usurp position zero and claim your featured snippet. 

The best thing you can do is to monitor your featured snippets, apply what you learn when you lose your position, and see if you can reasonably reclaim your spot by reevaluating your snippet optimization.

How To Get a Featured Snippet: In a Nutshell

I hope this article has pointed out the benefits of optimizing your content to earn featured snippets in Google SERPs and has inspired you to add a featured snippet strategy to your overall SEO plan. 

Remember these basic principles:

  1. Identify the type of featured snippet to optimize for.
  2. Create concise, properly formatted text that answers your target query.
  3. Use proper HTML in your snippet.
  4. For extra credit, add an image to the page that illustrates the target keyword, and include the target keyword in the image file name and alt text.

While there’s no magic formula for earning featured snippets, it can require extra resources to identify the opportunities and implement page changes. If you can use a hand, we’re here to help your site get the attention it deserves. Get started by reaching out to our SEO agency for a free consultation.

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