How to Attract Featured Snippets (the 4 Types)

Cara Bowles    By under SEO.

Featured snippets are special snippets that show up above the search results. They pull content from a website to answer a searcher's question and display a prominent title link to the source of the content.

According to Ahrefs, 12.3 percent of searches include a featured snippet, and 8.6 percent of the clicks on the page go to the featured snippet. This still isn't as good as ranking in the top traditional search result, which earns 19.6 percent of the clicks even when there is a featured snippet:

ahrefs featured snippets data

But a featured snippet does not replace your traditional search result. This means that if you get a featured snippet, you will get two search listings on the front page instead of one.

Let's talk more about what featured snippets are, and how to show up in them.

What Featured Snippets Aren't

It's important to distinguish featured snippets from rich snippets, rich answers, and the knowledge graph.

Rich answers resemble featured snippets in that they display a card at the top of the search results with an answer to the searcher's question. They aren't featured snippets, however, because they do not link to any site. Rich answers contain information that belongs to the public domain, so no source is credited:

rich answer jupiter's mass

Featured snippets can look much like rich answers, but featured snippets always include a prominent link to a single source.

Featured snippets also shouldn't be confused for rich snippets. Rich snippets are search results that have enhanced stylings like star ratings and images:

rich result

Rich results aren't featured snippets because, while they are more visually interesting and informative than standard search results, they are still listed within the standard search results. They are not featured in a separate section at the top like featured snippets.

Finally, featured snippets aren't the same thing as the knowledge graph. Knowledge graph results typically pull information from multiple sources and appear as a carousel at the top of the search results or as an information box in the right pane of the search results page:

knowledge graph planets

knowledge graph solar system Featured snippets link only one source, and never display as an image carousel or as a knowledge card in the right pane of the search results.

The Four Types of Featured Snippets

Now that we've distinguished featured snippets from some of the results they are often confused for, what are featured snippets?

A featured snippet is a card listed above the search results, sometimes called "position 0," that pulls content from a website to answer a question, and includes a prominent link to the source. Featured snippets pull from the top search results, so a site that gets a featured snippet will appear twice on the front page.

Currently, there seem to be four types of featured snippets.

1. Paragraph Snippets

According to Search Engine Journal, paragraph snippets are the most common featured snippet. A paragraph snippet attempts to answer a searcher's question by pulling a paragraph directly from a website and displaying it as a card at the top of the search results. If the user wants to learn more, they can click on a prominent link below the paragraph:

featured paragraph snippet, how do vaccines work

As you can see, the link in a featured snippet isn't a small, tucked-away citation link, but rather a prominent title link. The title link is the same size as the title link in a standard search result, but with extra attention drawn to it by featuring it above the search results in a special card.

2. List Snippets

List snippets are arguably actually two different types of featured snippets: numbered lists and bulleted lists.

Numbered list snippets show up when a user asks a question where a ranked list makes the most sense. For example, many "how-to" searches will turn up a numbered list featured snippet:

featured numbered list snippet - how to shift a manual car

List snippets will also show up when a user searches for things that are ranked in some way:

featured numbered list snippet of the "hottest men"

Bulleted lists show up when the most convenient answer to a question is a list of items, but the items in the list aren't sequential or ranked in any way. Searches for types or varieties of things will often turn these up:

featured bulleted list - types of marketing

The bulleted lists displayed in these types of featured snippets aren't always pulled from bulleted lists within the content itself. In the example above, they were pulled from subheadings on the page. In fact, the subheadings were numbered, but Google seems to understand that types of things aren't usually ranked or ordered so they aren't numbered in the featured snippet.

The bulleted list from this example was actually pulled from the sidebar navigation of the site, which links to different types of plants:

featured bulleted list - varieties of plants

3. Table Snippets

A table snippet displays row and column data from a chart on a site. These featured snippets do not copy the chart as is. Instead, they reformat it to, hopefully, the best answer to the user's question. In other words, a chart doesn't need to have a small number of columns or rows in order to fit into a featured snippet, Google will chop out irrelevant columns and rows.

Table snippets can show up when you search for a figure by a type or category:

featured table snippet - career by salary

4. Video Snippets

When Google assumes that the answer to a question is best displayed visually, rather than using text, Google will display a video snippet. A featured video snippet will display a suggested clip, rather than the full video, and users can click through to see the full video.

featured video snippet - how to apply eyeshadow

As you can see, Google will often display a transcript from the video clip as well.

Finding Low Hanging Fruit Opportunities For Featured Snippets

The easiest opportunity for you to earn a featured snippet is to find a search query where:

  • You are already ranking well.
  • A featured snippet is already being displayed.

This is ideal because your ranking means Google already trusts the page, and Google considers this query a good place to display a featured snippet. While this certainly doesn't guarantee you will be able to get a featured snippet, it does mean that a change in the formatting on your page may be all you need.

You can find these opportunities in SEMrush by putting in your domain and navigating to the Positions tab of Organic Research. From here, click the Positions drop-down and select Top 3 (or Top 10 if you don't find many opportunities). Next, click the SERP Features drop-down and select Domain doesn't rank > Featured snippet. 

semrush featured snippets

This will take you to a list of keywords you rank in the top three positions for, where a featured snippet exists on the page, but where you aren't showing up in the featured snippet.

From here, it's time to identify why your page isn't already turning up in the featured snippet. Examine the featured snippet itself, the page it is pulled from, and your own page. Now compare your pages:

  • If it is a paragraph snippet, does the featured snippet offer a more concise and direct answer to the query than can be found on your page?
  • If it is a list snippet, does the featured snippet have a better-formatted list? Does your page have a list or numbered headings at all? Does your page feature multiple lists that could make it difficult to select the right one?
  • If it is a table snippet, is there a properly formatted table on your page?
  • If it is a video snippet, is it sensible and otherwise a good marketing move for you to produce a video on the topic?

To get a good sense of the changes you could make that might result in earning a featured snippet, you can also compare the pages where you don't rank in the featured snippet with the pages where you do.

To see the search results where you are ranking in featured snippets, again, go to Organic Research and the Positions tab. There is no need to use the Positions drop-down to select the Top 3 this time around. From the SERP features drop-down, select Domain ranks > Featured snippet. 

SEMrush featured snippets that you rank for

Every keyword you see here is one you are already ranking for in a featured snippet. Examine the snippet itself and what you did on the page that may have contributed to your page having been selected for the snippet. Use these insights to help you identify which changes you can make on your other pages to earn a featured snippet.

Another way to find low hanging fruit is to look at competitors and the featured snippets they are ranking for. Replicate the process above for viewing featured snippets you already rank for, only use a competitor's domain instead. Do this with a competitor who doesn't have a great deal of search engine authority and you will find more achievable ranking opportunities.

Finding New Featured Snippet Opportunities

You can also use SEMrush to find featured snippet opportunities for keywords you aren't yet targeting.

Go to the Keyword Magic Tool in the left sidebar, then type a seed keyword in the search bar and click Search. Click the Advanced filters drop-down, then the SERP Features drop-down, click Featured snippet, and then click Apply.

new keywords in SEMrush featured snippets

This will display a list of keywords where Google already displays a featured snippet. Narrow down your options by relevance and competition as you would for any other keyword, but take one additional factor into consideration.

In the Results column of the list, click on the SERP box to see a preview of the search results and take a look at the featured snippet. Look for featured snippets that aren't very useful for users. It's likely these are searches Google believes deserve a featured snippet, but the ranking sites don't provide good content to include in one.

As long as it's reasonable to think you can rank well for these keywords, your odds of showing up in a featured snippet are also promising if you format the content correctly.

Additional Tactics For Showing Up In Featured Snippets

In addition to picking the right keywords and the methods discussed so far, here are some more things you can do to improve your chances.

Include Summaries In Your Posts

A featured snippet must be concise enough to reasonably answer a user's query before they click on a search result. If the answer to the question is distributed throughout your entire post and never concisely answered, Google is unlikely to have the capabilities to pull all of the relevant pieces together and display them in a featured snippet. Include a brief summary paragraph or list that directly answers the question in a limited number of words.

Fifty words is a good target to aim for.

Maximize Engagement On Your Pages

When looking at featured snippets that were taken from pages that ranked closer to the bottom of the front page and beyond, Larry Kim found that the pages had a much higher time on site than average:

time on site for featured snippets

Pages that were ranking in the seventh position or worse and still ended up in a featured snippet had a time on site about twice as high as the site average.

This doesn't necessarily mean that time on site, itself, is a metric Google is using to determine what to use as a featured snippet. However, it does suggest that if you are optimizing for engagement, you are also optimizing for things that improve your chances of showing up in a featured snippet.

Conclusion

Featured snippets allow you to earn two spots on the front page of the search results. By understanding the different types of featured snippets and the features that contribute to their selection, you can earn a spot about the standard search results and perform very well even if you don't rank in the top traditional search result. Use smart keyword research, take advantage of low hanging fruit, and use the tactics in this post to make use of featured snippets in your SEO strategy.