How to get a featured snippet

Jenai Laignel headshot

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1 min read

Featured snippets sometimes appear at the top of your Google results as either written content, or a video. They’re designed to help us find an answer to our query in as short a time as possible. After all, we’re all busy people! Here’s an example of a recent featured snippet we managed to secure for a FINALLY client, Turbex: 

For marketers, featured snippets present a pretty useful opportunity to bring searchers to your website, and – more importantly – away from your competitors. But how can you get a featured snippet? Well, it all depends on the content on your website, and your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy.

Coming up, we’ll tell you everything you ever wanted to know about featured snippets and offer our tips for how to optimise for featured snippets. Need some advice tailored to your business?

 

Why are featured snippets important?

Featured snippets used to be a bit of a vanity metric for marketers, but no longer. Today 19% of searches have a featured snippet, and they’re responsible for reducing the number of clicks any other result will receive on a SERP (search engine results page). 

Let us explain: on a SERP where there’s no featured snippet, the first result will receive, on average, 24% of the clicks. When there’s a featured snippet, this percentage will drop to 19.6%, with 8.6% of clicks on the featured snippet itself. This means that although the percentage of clicks on your featured snippet is only 8.6% (versus 24% if you’re the first result on SERPs without a snippet), the number of people clicking on competitors' search results will decrease. 

But why is this? Put simply, your featured snippet, thanks to its size and placement (more on this later), has told your searcher everything they need to know – and they haven’t even had to leave the SERP to get their answer. 

Did you know? 79% of SERPS have the same website domains on both their mobile and desktop featured snippets within search results. On a mobile, this featured snippet takes up to 50% of the screen which means searchers on these devices will see little else. 

 

Types of featured snippets

Paragraph snippet

Example of a paragraph snippet:

What percentage of featured snippets are paragraph snippets? 70% of all featured snippets.

How long is a paragraph snippet? 24 words, or 249 characters.

 

List snippet

Example of a list snippet:

What percentage of featured snippets are list snippets? 19% of all featured snippets.

How long is a list snippet: Six items or 42 words.

 

Table snippet

Example of a table snippet:

What percentage of featured snippets are table snippets? 6% of all featured snippets.

How long is a table snippet? Five rows and two columns.

 

Video snippet

Example of a video snippet:

What percentage of featured snippets are video snippets? 5% of all featured snippets.

How long is a video snippet? The average length for videos chosen as snippets is 6 minutes 35 seconds.

How to get your website to the top of Google

 

How to rank for featured snippets

1) Think about your content format

Content, in every format, is pretty important to SEO, and it’s not just us who think so; Google’s very own Matt Cutts has said it himself. To stand a chance at scoring a featured snippet however, you may want to think about which type of snippet lends itself to the keywords you’re optimising for (and how competitive these are). For instance, table featured snippets tend to appear for ranking content (e.g. “the best engineering firms 2021, ranked”), list snippets appear for, well, lists and video snippets appear for (you guessed it) videos. 

For paragraph snippets – which, as we’ve seen, account for the lion’s share of all featured snippets – the content format which stands the best chance of appearing are longer-form articles that are structured correctly (so, with a keyword-rich H1, H2, H3, etc), and are otherwise optimised for your keywords.

Above anything else, however, for every kind of featured snippet, Google wants to see website pages rich in good quality content. written clearly, and of genuine use to its readers. Do this and you’ll stand the best chance of grabbing a featured snippet spot. 

Did you know? On average, articles selected for featured snippets exceed 1100 words and include 14-15 individual sub-headings

 

2) Keep your content fresh

For search engines, fresh is best. Life moves pretty fast – and once content is out of date, it’s (generally) of little to no use to your audience. Search engines know this which is why they’ll nearly always prioritise the most up to date content on its SERPs – and for featured snippets, it’s no different. 

Did you know? According to SEMrush, 70% of articles used in featured snippets were published within the last 2-3 years. 

 

3) Answer a question (preferably starting with “why”)

Content helps your audience get to know you. It plays an important role in explaining your website, addressing your audience’s questions and pointing them towards a solution. Google, and other search engines, recognise this and have based their algorithms around it. 

Featured snippets are just a way of leading searchers towards a solution, which is worth bearing in mind when you’re planning your next content piece. Just how you approach this will depend on your business, its goals and your way of doing things. A good way to get started is to think of the questions your audience might have about your business, and create a content page for these. 

Did you know? 77.6% of featured snippets begin with the word “why”. 

 

4) Include pictures (and don’t forget to include alt tags)

Pictures are a great way to break up longer-form content. After all, there’s only so much reading you can do in one sitting. It turns out, Google loves pictures too and will be more likely to use you as a featured snippet if you include them on your web page – just make sure you include an alt tag too.

So, what’s an alt tag? An alt tag is the text that appears when you hover over an online image. Traditionally these were used to make the internet more inclusive for the visually impaired by explaining what’s happening in an image. Ever since marketers got wind that this was a ranking signal for Google, however, they’ve used this space for keywords too. While there’s nothing wrong with this exactly, it’s important to also stick to your alt tags traditional purpose too. 

Did you know? Articles used as featured snippets tend to have an average of eight images with alt tags on the page. 

 

At a glance: how to get a featured snippet

  1. Think about your content format.
  2. Update your content frequently.
  3. Use questions starting with “why” in your content titles.
  4. Include pictures on your web page. 

For help with securing featured snippets for your website, get in touch with the FINALLY team. 

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