What are featured snippets and how to optimize for them

Search engine result pages (SERP) have changed a lot over the years and featured snippets are testimony of that.

We do not have just 10 links anymore.

We have a whole menu: Images, paid results, map listing, suggested results, and rich results.

The search results have become extremely relevant to search intent. They are easier to access and faster to consume than ever.

In this post, we will talk about:

Featured Snippet is the most concise slice (or snippet) of content relevant to the search query.

Let’s elaborate that.

What happens when Google receives a query: What are featured snippets?

You see the below results.

featured snippets example 1

You see a section of images, followed by some text that has the keywords used in the query, followed by the URL and title of the page.

Basically, Google consolidates relevant information right at the top of the page and gives credits to the owner of content through a link.

If a searcher wants a quick fact check, they may read the above content and leave without having to click on the link. But what happens if they click on the link? They see this:

Featured Snippets Example 2

They land at the exact information they read on the results page. And that is why, there is a 20–30% increase in traffic when a webpage gets featured as a snippet.

Another example.

Suppose the post you are reading currently gains a lot of traction. Google would notice that this post is relevant for the search query: what are featured snippets. 

If Google considers it a better alternative for Moz’s post, this post will be highlighted as a Featured Snippet.

What it may show? It would probably show this content in a different font (Featured Snippet is the most concise…) right at the top, followed by the URL and title of the page.

Did you notice the layout of the Featured Snippets? It is text first and title later. Quite contrary to the regular search results on Google. Isn’t it?

The searcher can be looking for information in a variety of formats. They may be looking for comparison, exact steps to do something or information spread over a lot of businesses.

A paragraph of information may not always be enough. For instance, if the searcher wants to know the different types of airplane, they would want to look at a list, not a paragraph.

This has led to 4 types of Featured Snippets to address the different format requirement. You can see featured snippets in the form of a:

  • Paragraph
  • List
  • Table
  • Youtube Video

This is the most common format of featured snippets. They mostly appear as an answer to a question.

Remember, featured snippets are designed to answer questions right on the SERP. You want the searcher to visit your website instead.

When you optimize your content for featured snippets, make sure you answer a question but at the same time keep some information in the text that will encourage the searcher to visit. No one likes an unsolved mystery.

Here’s an example of good use of the paragraph featured snippet:

featured snippets example 3

The first sentence answers the question. But the last one creates a mystery, it’s the hook to grab the searchers attention.

This format of snippets appears when the searcher intends to find:

  • Steps to do something
  • A list of items
  • Ranking of some sort

There are two types of lists:

  • Numbered list
  • Bulleted list

This type of featured snippet is helpful when someone’s looking for a step-by-step process to accomplish a task.

For instance, here’s the results for the query: steps to tie a shoelace.

list featured snippets example

Google populates a bunch of images pulled from different sources, followed by a number list to highlight the order of steps.

The searcher may click on the link to see the images pertinent to every step, that contributes to a higher CTR.

This snippet format appears when you search for a list. It usually populates for a ‘Best of…’ query.

bulleted list featured snippets

This snippet type appears for queries pertinent to comparison and features.

When a webpage has a table, Google algorithm works on the best presentation of the table highlighting the aspects that might be more relevant to the searcher.

For example, for the search query: aventador vs huracan, we see the below search result:

table featured snippet

The key highlights section includes Engine Capacity, Power, Transmission, Fuel Type, in that order, for the two cars.

However, the webpage has a slightly different order.

Google bumped transmission above fuel type. That’s probably because more searchers consider the former a more important criteria while selecting a car for purchase.

In addition, the table in the search page is lighted on information per table cell. This means, you can pack every table cell with content to ensure your visitors have extra content to consume that wasn’t there on the search results page.

At times a video might be a better answer to a search query.

Youtube featured snippet is a piece of video content that Google pulls from YouTube.

For instance, the search query: how to tie shoe laces shows the below result at the top. 

video type

The search result suggests the exact section of the video where the content relevant to the search query is covered.

Did you notice we used a similar search query for numbered list feature snippets? The only difference here is, the keyword ‘how’ in place of the keyword ‘steps’.

This changes the search intent completely. When someone is looking for steps, it’s a DIY task. When someone is looking how exactly a task needs to be accomplished, video may often be a better alternative to a list.

Google may also pull content from a video description and show it as a paragraph featured snippet.

We have covered the different types of featured snippets. At times, Google may provide two featured snippets if the search query is not clear in terms of the search intent.

Also, Google may pull content from different sources to provide a holistic picture. For instance, for a paragraph featured snippet the text maybe from one source but image from another.

You can optimize by good old on-page optimization technique and leveraging the YouTube features, which we will discuss in this section.

This section is split into two parts, the first part covers the paragraph, list and table featured snippets, or textual snippets. The second part will cover the YouTube featured snippet.

As of February 2021, there is no designated tool where you can submit your copy for featured snippets. Google picks the snippet from your content automatically, based on the search query. 

The only way to get a featured snippet is through on-page optimization. Think from a searcher’s perspective – 

  • What questions they might have?
  • What answers that question?
  • How else can the content be made beneficial for them?

Next, figure out how you arrange your content in appropriate headings by using the right keywords.

Basically, you need to organize content so that it becomes easy for Google to analyze and pick a snippet from. In addition, a well organized piece of content will hold your visitor’s interest better.

You need to optimize the title as well while ensuring the long-tail keyword is in place. If you are aiming for paragraph featured snippets, you may want to use the words how and what in the title. Also make sure the target paragraph is about 45 words long.

Another technique of help is to include a FAQ section. Use the keywords in questions and write a paragraph for the answer.

Mention list or Top 10 in the title if you want to get a list featured snippet.

Include data in a detailed tabular format if you’re aiming for a table style featured snippet.

But include the right keywords everywhere. Write quality meta data intended to help your visitors.

Let’s bring back our YouTube featured snippet example.

Here are a few tips to help you optimize the video snippets:

  • The orange box in the above image shows the transcript of the video. Include subtitles or transcripts for all your videos
  • YouTube shows auto-generated subtitles as well. Ensure that your voice-over is clear and crisp.
  • Include appropriate keywords in the video title and description
  • Add chapters to your video and use keywords in each chapter name. Here’s how you can do it. And the below image shows what it looks like.
featured snippets and youtube


There you have it. Now you know what featured snippets are and how you can optimize them for visibility and a high CTR.

Note that 30% of 1.4 million Google Searches have feature snippets. Don’t miss out on it.

Anurag Surya
Anurag Surya

B2B Saas | Content Marketer | SEO Specialist
My SEO strategies prioritize building human-to-human connections, resulting in longer-lasting client relationships.

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