How to Rank in Google’s Featured Snippets

Google continues to refine the way it displays search results. One of the latest opportunities for smart marketers to take advantage of are the Featured Snippets which Google is relying on more and more.

You may be wondering, “What are Google Featured Snippets?” How can you get a Google Featured Snippet for your brand’s content? And most importantly, is it worth chasing after yet another type of Google search result?

According to Glenn Gabe, featured snippets are definitely worth the effort.

“Analyzing a two-week period after losing the snippet revealed a drop of 39,254 clicks to my client’s site,” Glenn Gabe of Search Engine Land explained. “So yes, featured snippets can drive a lot of traffic, and this was an important snippet for my client.”  

If you’re still not convinced, the estimated worth of snippets was over $3 million in July 2016, according to Rob Bucci’s presentation at SearchLove London.


What is a Featured Snippet?

Ever notice that highlighted box eager to answer your question? That is a Google Featured Snippet. It is normally shown in SERPs after a question-based query is searched for.

The snippet will show a direct answer to your question taken from one of the page one search results. It is handy, and often allows you to see a direct answer without clicking any pages.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 1.09.56 PM

Normally you will see a very organized list of steps to help guide you. However, there are now Featured Snippets that answer search queries in paragraph form.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 1.10.47 PM

In any case, having your brand’s content pop up above all your competitors on page one makes your rank position zero. Higher than the coveted number one spot!

How do you get a Google Featured Snippet?

This is the big SEO question. First, the content must be formatted to fit Google Algorithms, which are tough to pin down.

Other aspects of a qualified snippet include . . .

  • Text
  • Tables
  • Charts
  • Images
  • Numbered lists
  • Bullet points
  • Steps

Despite being so mysterious in nature, the great thing about Featured Snippets is that any brand, large or small, can get one! And the SEO benefits are impactful for your business.

The benefits of snippets are . . .

  • They drive more traffic to your site.
  • They boost brand visibility in Google SERPs.
  • They increase trust and credibility.

Other than the above, Featured Snippets are generally an unknown Google entity. It is important to note that snippets don’t always appear. You can search once and see one, but do the exact search moments later and poof, it’s gone.

Can Google Featured Snippets Hurt CTR?

Many believe that if the answer is already given, why would anyone want to click through, thus decreasing CTR. This is true, but aren’t you afraid you’ll miss something important in the rest of the post?

Generally, most people will click on the Featured Snippet. If you want to increase these chances, making nice long lists will do the trick.

You’ll notice the “More Items“ call to action to click on the Yoast SEO Tips Google Featured Snippet . . .

Google Snippets

There are also instances when the actual number one recommendation by Google falls just below the Featured Snippet.

This post on diamond girdles is a great example of how the snippet takes position zero, position one, and is above the fold on the screen . . .

Diamond Girdle

Resulting in . . .

GA Stats

Another powerful feature of Google Featured Snippets is that even the lower first page search results can be catapulted to the top. This can make a big difference in your CTR if gaining page rank over a formidable competitor is challenging.

Organic Search Ranking Factors Don’t Play a Big Role

You would assume that Featured Snippets are pulled from first page results. However, SERP rank may not always play a role in how Google decides what to snippet.

For example, Rob Bucci’s presentation, mentioned earlier, found that Google would pull sites listed on page two of search results.

Going to page two of search results to get a snipp-able piece of content goes against the traditional ranking factors when it comes to Google’s algorithm. There may be hope for all those on page two, eight, or even farther down the line.

How to Format for a Google Featured Snippet?

If you want to give snippets a go and try ranking in position zero, there are a few formatting factors to consider. Word count to snippet type may make a difference.

Word Count

“The most common length of content in Featured Snippets is between 40-50 words,” According to an analysis by SEMrush. It is certainly important to play by Google’s rules, and word count seems to make a big difference.

SEM Rush

FAQ Page

Developing a Q&A section, or FAQ page with very cut and dry answers can also put your site on the Google snippet map. You can develop this list by using related questions from a keyword research tool, or check the related keywords at the bottom of the SERP.

Nimble Customer Care Page

Table, Paragraph, or List?

Interestingly, the type of snippet you have may factor into Google’s algorithm for choosing Featured Snippets. For example, 29 percent of all snippets are tables.

Stat Rob

However, this doesn’t mean that your list or paragraph won’t get chosen for the coveted position zero. In fact, paragraphs and lists pop up in SERPs more often than tables.

Snippet Graph

Key Takeaways When Optimizing Google Featured Snippets

  • Backlinks are an afterthought for ranking in Featured Snippets when already on page one.
  • The content, answer to the search query need to be in a <p> tag below the header.
  • Search query should be in an h2, h3, h4, etc. header.
  • Remember that 40 to 50 words is the sweet spot for content.
  • For question based searches, Google might not pull through an entire paragraph for the snippet. By adding Step 1, Step 2, etc. for each subheading, h2, Google will work them chronologically.
  • Featured Snippets will have different text for the same search query within Google. For example, or
  • Less question-based searches will often be placed in paragraph form, as opposed to numbers, or step-by-step.
  • Google Featured Snippets often showcase answers to a search query that are logically formatted, like these:

Set Chrome as Default

Five Rules

WP Intall

Your first step should be to run an audit of keywords your site ranks for and note how many are question-based queries. Then analyze ranking, take a hard look at how your content is formatted, and plan to optimize with Google Featured Snippets. Your CTR and page views will get a much needed boost, and so will your bottom line.