What Are Featured Snippets (and How to Get Them)?
Around half of all Google searches currently don’t end up in a click, yet that doesn’t mean people aren’t getting the information they’re looking for. The first organic result on search engines usually gets 33% of all clicks, but where are all the other clicks going?
What happens is because of changes to Google’s algorithms, users are getting the answers to many of their questions directly on the search page. The answers increasingly appear before organic search results.
Then the reason for the search is fulfilled, thus no reason for a user to click a link to visit another site.
A zero-click search, which is what this is called, means Google determines the content most relevant to an inquiry. A zero-click result will have a relevant, clear, and concise answer to a question.
One type of content that appears in a zero-click search is a featured snippet. Getting these coveted snippets is highly valuable in SEO, and below, we cover what you need to know and how to get the snippet, so you’re front and center even in a zero-click search.
What is a Featured Snippet?
A featured snippet is a brief bit of text. The snippets appear at the top of Google search results in response to a particular query input by the person searching. Content appearing inside a featured snippet is pulled from web pages in the Google index automatically.
Some of the items that are common in snippets include tables, lists, steps, and definitions.
Featured snippets are relevant to SEO in a couple of significant ways. First, you’re going to get more clicks via organic search results if you’re able to get the snippet. You don’t need higher Google rankings to do so.
Some people will call the snippet box position 0 because it’s actually higher on the page than the first position.
That means if you do get your content in the box, you’re going to increase your organic click-through rate.
As we mentioned above, when you have a featured snippet box, you’re also increasing your no-click searches when users don’t click any results because they’ve found what they need.
Do All Results Have a Featured Snippet?
Not all search results have a featured snippet. Ahrefs found you get fewer clicks than results without a snippet, but that doesn’t mean you need to get rid of a keyword if there is one already. That’s simply because it’s challenging to avoid keywords with a snippet.
However, you should include featured snippets into your decisions when you’re doing keyword research. If there’s already a featured snippet, it can be helpful to you, which we talk more about below.
What Are the Types of Featured Snippets?
Most Google search results with a featured snippet have one of four types. These types are:
- Definition Box: In a definition box, the snippet provides a specific definition or description of what something is. As you might realize, these featured snippets are common when someone asks a “what is” question. A definition featured snippet is usually pretty short—anywhere from 40 to 60 words on average.
- Table Box: When Google gets data from your page it can be displayed as a table. For example, if you’re searching for a size comparison of particular objects, the snippet box might appear as a table.
- Ordered lists: If your query asks how to do something, then the featured snippet box might include a series of steps. How to boil an egg is an example of a question that might lead to a snippet box with an ordered list. Another time ordered lists are in the box is if something is being ranked in a specific order, like the best movies in a particular genre.
- Unordered lists: In this situation, the snippet box still has a list, but no particular order is needed.
Optimizing for Featured Snippets
Above, we went into why featured snippets are important, so how can you take advantage of the opportunity to get your content in the box?
First, look for pages that already have featured snippets because this indicates the opportunity is there. You know, when they exist, that Google wants them to exist, so you don’t have to worry that you’re wasting your time on something Google isn’t going to include.
When you find a keyword that already has a featured snippet, the other benefit is looking at what type the search engine wants—for example, an ordered list.
Once you have an idea of keywords with existing snippets that will work for your niche, the following are specific things you can do to optimize with that particular type of snippet in mind.
- If it’s a definition in the snippet box, you create a brief snippet of text—anywhere from 40 to 60 words. Put “What is X” above the definition. Formatting is relevant. The closer you can get your content to match the format of what’s already in the box, the more likely you are to get it. Don’t include any opinion-related content for definition-based boxes.
- If you want a table box, then as you might guess, create tables. Google isn’t producing the tables that appear in these boxes—they’re using ones already there.
- When you’re doing an ordered list, you want to create a series of steps that will be easy for Google to understand. Each step should be an H2 or H3. If you want to go even further for clarity, add Step #1 before each.
Finally, you can potentially rank one page for multiple featured snippets. The best way to do this is to include the elements above throughout the page. For example, have definitions, lists and tables.
You should note too that if you’re not already ranking well on Google, it’s going to be tough to get the snippet box, so you’re going to need to build your all-around SEO efforts too. You can’t just rely on one strategy and expect it to do all the heavy lifting for you.