So you want to get into Google’s featured snippets?

How your SEO agency can optimise for Google’s featured snippets

The Google landscape is forever changing. It sometimes feels like blink and you miss it . . . another algorithm change or penalty rule or some snazzy new tweak to SERPs.

You could be forgiven for thinking that’s the case with featured snippets, which suddenly seem to be appearing all over the place. 

But did you know that featured snippets originally appeared in 2013 under the guise of “quick answers” before being officially announced by Google in 2016 as Featured Snippets.

So featured snippets are not new. And, whether you are a marketer or SEO agency, it’s time to learn how to make full use of them.

In this article we explore:

  • What is a featured snippet;
  • The advantages of appearing in a featured snippet;
  • How to optimise for featured snippets.

What is a featured snippet?

A featured snippet – or FS – provides an answer to a question that has been asked in a search query. It appears in position zero on a SERPs page, above the organic search results.

Featured snippets aim to answer a searcher’s query in the easiest and quickest way possible.

In a featured snippet, the content is on top and the URL at the bottom. 

An example of a featured snippet, from Google.


Here are three common questions about featured snippets:


  • Is a featured snippet the same as a rich snippet?


For two reasons:

  • A rich snippet is a simply a summarised organic search result but a featured snippet answers a specific question;
  • A featured snippet has the content first and the URL last.


  • Is a featured snippet just text?


Around 75% of featured snippets are indeed text-based, usually in the form of a paragraph that answers the searcher’s question in some level of detail.

But featured snippets can also take several other formats:

  • Lists. Around 19% of featured snippets are in list format, particularly if the searcher needs either simple instructions – for example directions or a recipe – or to identify different items or objects.
  • Tables. Around 6.3% of featured snippets are tables, which can display a summary of information clearly.
  • Videos. Around 4.6% of featured snippets are videos, particularly in response to a “how to” query. 


  • Can I pay Google to appear in a featured snippet?


Featured snippets come from web search listings. They are selected by Google’s automated systems if the page is evaluated as being helpful for searchers to quickly find what they’re seeking. 

In the section How to optimise for featured snippets below, we cover what you can do to increase your chances of being selected for a featured snippet.


Why featured snippets matter

There are four key advantages to appearing in a featured snippet.


  • Featured snippets increase organic traffic

You would naturally expect to get more organic traffic when you appear above the rest of the search listings. But, according to Ahrefs, you could get up to 31% more traffic if you appear in a featured snippet. 

So not only do people notice your featured snippet, but they are also likely to click through to your site if they are looking for more in-depth information. This could lead to them also exploring more content on your site, increasing traffic for several pages.

  • Featured snippets increase your brand authority

For most Google searches, there are probably millions of results that are relevant to the searcher’s query. Appearing in a featured snippet indicates to users that your brand is an authority and a thought leader in that area. It will make them more likely to click through to your site, and also to remember you for future reference.

  • Voice search uses featured snippets

Virtual assistants such as Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri increasingly use featured snippets to answer voice search queries. An estimated 40%+ of adults use voice search at least once per day, and it is an area that is continuing to grow rapidly. 

All of which means that you will have a competitive advantage – both now and in the future – if you own a featured snippet.

  • Featured snippets endorse your content

If Google chooses your content to appear in a featured snippet, it’s a powerful indication that your content is informative, useful and valuable to readers. 

It also endorses your content in terms of Google’s quality criteria EAT : Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. 


Overall, appearing in a featured snippet puts you head and shoulders above the competition.

How to optimise for featured snippets

As we saw earlier, you can’t pay your way into featured snippets. You have to earn it.

But how to do that?

Here are four things that will help:

  • Check out your competitors’ featured snippets

The first thing to understand is that featured snippets are more likely to be given to pages that are already high ranking. So optimising for featured snippets should be seen as an extension to your existing SEO activity not a replacement for it.

But if you and a competitor are both high ranking, and they get a featured snippet but you don’t, you need to work out why.

Start by identifying the keywords present on the content currently appearing in featured snippets. You can then analyse these using SEO tools. Most SEO platforms now have some kind of featured snippet analysing tools. These can help you to determine the factors that can boost your chances of appearing in a featured snippet, such as:

  • Essential keywords and content;
  • Backlinks;
  • Readability;
  • Text length.


You can also decide the best format for this content, to fit with the format that the featured snippet is currently using. For example, creating lists and tables.

  • Understand search intent

Featured snippets are all about search intent. You need to answer the questions that people will want to ask. So do your research. What will your potential customers want to know? What are the trending issues in your industry? What USPs can you offer that may be of interest to a snippet?

Once you can answer these questions yourself, make sure that they are answered clearly in your content, and in a format that could easily be adapted into a featured snippet.

  • Create the best content

We referred earlier to Google’s EAT criteria for content quality, and you should always ensure that your content meets these. But, given that all your competitors will be trying to do likewise, to own a featured snippet you need to prepare answers to searcher’s questions that win hands down.

Consider including some or all of the following to make your content stand out from the crowd:

  • Research-based content;
  • Statistics and charts;
  • Original images;
  • Rich media;
  • Examples and case studies.


  • Structure your content 

The content guidelines we have been looking at should ensure that your content is interesting, readable and engaging for readers. But you also need to make sure it is easily understandable to search engines.

  • Html

First and foremost, ensure that you are making the most of your html settings to up your chances of owning a featured snippet. You should use best practice html wherever possible.

Here are a few tips:

  • Use your H1 tag to ask the question you’re answering on the page. 
  • Use H2 tags for related questions.
  • Use correct html formatting for the featured snippet format you are aiming for. For example:
  • Format paragraphs as <p>
  • Format tables as <table>
  • Format lists as <ol> or <ul>. 


  • Structured data

It is also helpful to use structured data to markup the content on your site. Structured data is a way of using vocabulary to describe your site and make it easier for search engines to understand. 

Most of the major search engines, including Google, use the markup language, which converts your content into code that they can easily process. Think of it as a way that your site can talk to the search engines.

You can either add Schema code to the html on your website manually or use a plugin. 

It should be noted that there is no magic causal link between Schema and featured snippets. The structure of the content is just as important as the structure of the data. But the more you structure your data and make your site easy for search engines to understand, the better in all kinds of ways.


In this article we have looked at:

  • What is a featured snippet;
  • The advantages of appearing in a featured snippet;
  • How to optimise for featured snippets.


We hope that the information has been useful, and helps you to own a featured snippet and achieve that much-coveted position zero.

For more tips on how to develop your digital marketing strategy or SEO agency visit this page again soon at Xcite Digital.