How to Get Featured Snippets on Google

That’s why 19% of search engine results pages already have Featured Snippets: the handy boxes summarizing (or teasing) information to the searchers. So, how can you ensure your content appears at the top?

In this article, I’ll show you how to optimize your content for featured snippets with 11 essential methods.

What Is a Google Featured Snippet?

Featured snippets are SERP boxes that preview the information from the content to the searchers. They come in the form of paragraph definitions, lists, tables, videos, and more.

list style featured snippet example

If the information preview looks good to searchers, they’ll click through. 

In some cases, they won’t because the featured snippet will meet their intent in full, so it’ll be a zero-click search (but still beneficial if you rank for the featured snippet). 

Why Are Featured Snippets Important?

Featured snippets offer numerous benefits, including more SERP real estate (on mobile, they cover 50% of the screen), increased visibility (searchers are more likely to click through on a featured snippet), and more organic traffic.

Additionally, as Google doubles down on providing answers to searchers as quickly as possible, we’ll start seeing more featured snippets. There’s no way around it: the featured snippet position zero is the new position #1.

The Five Types of Featured Snippets

There are 5 types of featured snippets:

  • Paragraphs (definitions)
  • Lists
  • Tables
  • Videos
  • Double-featured snippets (e.g., lists and images combined)

double featured snippet example

Double-featured snippets usually appear for results that have a visual aspect. However, the image doesn’t have to be pulled from your content. The image on the left is from a different website than the one listed in the featured snippet.

11 Ways to Optimize Your Content for Featured Snippets

Identify SERPs with Featured Snippets (or Featured Snippet potential)

First, identify SERPs that already have a featured snippet. 

Featured snippets usually appear for: 

You can check the SERPs manually or use tools like LowFruits, SEMrush, or Ahrefs - all of which show you when there’s a featured snippet for one of your keywords.

using lowfruits to find featured snippets

Using LowFruits to find SERPs with featured snippets

Check Your Availability and Competitors

You can’t start appearing for a featured snippet out of nowhere. Technically, it’s possible, but it happens very rarely, so your pages should already be ranking on the first page to secure a featured snippet. 

How to Check If You Can Rank for a Featured Snippet

If you’re confident that you could appear for the featured snippet in a SERP that already has one, run the following search using the minus operator:

[KEYWORD] -[existing snippet domain]

For example, suppose I want to check if my article qualifies for the “trailing slashes and SEO” featured snippet. 

This is what the SERP looks like now:

how to check if you can rank for a featured snippet

Now, I’ll check if SiteGuru is next in line for the featured snippet. 

After the “-” operator, I’ll add the competitor’s domain to remove them from the search results:

how to check if you can rank for a featured snippet

Unfortunately, Ahrefs is next in line. It seems I’ll have to optimize my old article a bit more for Google to consider it!

Identify Areas for Improvement

Next, look at the existing featured snippet to see what you can do better:

  • Can the definition be simpler?
  • Can the list be more straightforward? Shorter or longer?
  • Is the data in the table snippet still accurate, or should it be fresher?

Your content should be comprehensive, in-depth, and well-organized. There’s no substitute for good keyword research; aim to cover the topic in full, leaving no questions unanswered. 

Look at the People Also Ask and Related queries to find more questions and give your article more substance.

Structure and Format Your Content for Position Zero

Heading Hierarchy

Firstly, use the heading tags properly: H1 is your title, H2 tags are topics within your page, H3 are sub-topics, and so on.

Using the proper heading hierarchy helps searchers navigate your content and shows Google what you’re discussing. 

Format Your Content for Featured Snippets

I’ll cover specific types of formatting (depending on the snippet type) below, but in general:

  • Use the searchers’ questions as the heading (e.g., H2: “Why Are Featured Snippets Important?”)
  • Provide an answer in the body below the heading (e.g., “Featured snippets offer numerous benefits, including more SERP real estate (on mobile, they cover 50% of the screen), increased visibility (searchers are more likely to click through on a featured snippet), and more organic traffic.”)

Optimize for the Paragraph Featured Snippet

Comprehensively define the topic using a Wikipedia-style definition with up to 300 characters to optimize for the paragraph featured snippet.

Again, look at what I’m doing in this article. 

First, I pose a question or a “how-to” query with my heading. Then, I answer it by paraphrasing the question and providing a definition.

example of a paragraph featured snippet

Optimize for the List Snippet

list featured snippet google example

There are two ways to appear for the list snippet: 

  • You’re using bullet-point or numbered lists in your content 
  • Google has extracted your headings in a list format

First, make sure you use bullet-point lists or numbered lists whenever you want to convey a lot of related information. They’re good for the user experience and skim-reading, too!

Secondly, make sure your heading structure follows a logical flow of information. Title your H2s accordingly. 

For example, in this article, I have an H2 tag that announces “10 ways to optimize your content for featured snippets.” Then, my H3s are the items on that list, such as: “Check your availability.”

Optimize for the Table Snippets on Google

If you’re posting comparison content or data, you’ll want to optimize for the table snippet. This is one of the rarest SERP features, but it’s out there – and it works wonders!

table featured snippet example

An example of a comparison guide ranking for the list featured snippet on Google. / Source: Productive Shop

Optimizing for the list snippet with comparison content is simple:

  • Identify the competitors
  • Identify the comparison categories
  • Create a table
  • Insert it into your content

If you only want to share data, the process is similar - create the rows and columns, and add the data to your table.

Pro tip: Tables are always good, especially for middle-of-the-funnel content. There are so many comparison guides out there: searchers are exhausted. Give them a break with a quick side-by-side overview at the beginning of your page, so they can skip to the categories they’re interested in.

Add Alt Texts to Your Images and Videos

Videos are standalone featured snippet types, so make sure the videos on your pages are correctly tagged. Your alt text should describe what the video is about (and I recommend using structured data, too). 

Similarly, describe your images with alt text

In addition to the accessibility benefits, images can rank for Google Images and be synced into Featured Snippets.

Add Summaries to Your Articles

If you’re not using a table of contents on your website, manually add numbered summaries or TL;DRs to your articles. This is another way for Google to pick up your lists, and it’s great for the searchers who’ll know what to expect.

an article summary example

For example, I added a product page SEO checklist at the top of my article.

Add Dates to Your Content

SEMrush’s study on featured snippets in 2020 found that a high percentage of featured snippets highlight content with dates in their headings

Searchers want the freshest information, so even if your topic is evergreen, consider updating it periodically and changing the date in the title. 

example of a high-ranking content on google that has a date in the title

Use Structured Data and FAQ Schema

Some SEOs will tell you that structured data doesn’t matter for Featured Snippets, and they’re right – up to a point. Using structured data (AKA the Schema markup) won’t directly affect your ability to rank for position zero, but it does affect how search bots understand your content.

Remember: search bots think in code and links. If you point out the information on your page with the right Schema markup, they’ll understand how deeply you’re covering a topic and whether your features (e.g., videos, images, etc.) meet the searcher’s intent. 

Use the article Schema for your blog posts, add the video structured markup to your videos, and don’t forget about the FAQ schema if you have a FAQ section. It’s a great way to appear for the paragraph featured snippets (and a few lists, too)! 

FAQ: Everything You Want to Know about Featured Snippets on Google

What if there are no featured snippets in my target SERP?

If the SERP answers a question, provides results for an informational query, or compares information, it’s still worth following the best practices outlined in this article. There’s a chance Google might add a featured snippet to it soon!

What’s the difference between featured snippets and rich snippets?

Featured snippets are picked by Google to provide a faster answer to the query at the top of the SERP. Rich snippets are page listings strengthened by Schema markup and can appear in any position.

I optimized my content, and I didn’t get a featured snippet!

Google’s algorithm picks the featured snippet, so there are no guarantees. 

However, check the following:

  • When did you optimize? It takes a while to get a featured snippet.
  • Do you already rank on page #1? If your page is not on the first page of the SERPs, you may not be eligible for the snippet.
  • Is your snippet really better than the existing snippet?

Which pages should I optimize for the featured snippets?

You should optimize your best-performing existing pages. They should already rank well for the query in which you want to win a featured snippet.

Do I have to pay for featured snippets?

No, you don’t have to pay for featured snippets. 

Are You Ready to Win Featured Snippets?

Your work starts when you first publish a page. Ensure the headings are in order and your content is ready to rank. Most of your work will be to match the search intent closely.

Then, keep an eye on your top-performing pages. 

If some rank on the first page, you may have just found a suitable candidate for featured snippets. It’s worth making it the best it can be!