Kristina Green
Nov 10, 2016 | 6 min read

Google’s Featured Snippets are amazingly powerful. They are present in ⅓ of the search queries and can significantly improve results from the organic traffic, leading to a 500% increase in sessions and up to 600% increase in revenue!

So we need them badly. But how we can get them?

Let’s start with the main question: how exactly does Google’s algorithm picks which snippet to feature?

For example, if two competing domains have great, snipp-able results, how does Google decide to pick one over the other? Here is a good illustration:


Why does Wikipedia (in Position 4) get the Featured Snippet instead of Searchengineland (Positions 1) or Whatisseo (Position 3) on a search for “what is seo”? To find an answer let’s dive deeper in what we know and don’t know about featured snippets.

What we DO know about featured snippets

They come in different formats

Featured snippets allow the user to understand whether he found the necessary information and help him to find the answer faster. Therefore they appear before the organic search results and come in all shapes and sizes: Text, Lists, Images, Charts, Tables, Knowledge Graph.

Any website can earn the featured snippet

Large brands and sites have no advantage over smaller brands and sites. The STAT Team company analyzed one million search queries, 423,230 domains and 92,832 featured snippets. As you can see in the table below there are a lot of well-established and large websites of big brands that did not get any featured  snippets at all.


The same researched revealed that some sites are enjoying over 30% display of their snippets. Let’s review another example: ”how much is iphone 7”.


The ordinary web page from position 3 got it instead of the official Apple website. The case is dismissed.

They do really work!

Featured Snippets are really great – they do generate more traffic to the website, provide greater visibility in Google’s SERPs, while establishing trust and credibility among your potential clients.

Glenn Gabe presented his client case, when losing the snippet resulted in a drop of 39,254 clicks to the site.

Another case also shows remarkable results: visibility from the featured snippet significantly improved the organic performance of the page, leading to a 516% increase in sessions, with CTR jumping from 2 percent to 8 percent and revenue growing to 677% improvement.


That’s all we know about the feature snippets. For the rest, there is a ton of guesswork and assumptions going about. So let’s play a guessing game in our search of an answer of how the hell we can get the featured snippet.

What we DON’T know about the featured snippet

Why they are displayed when they are displayed

Yes, they appear at the 30% of the SERPs results. You can do a search right now and see the snippet. But sometimes you can conduct the same exact search an hour later and the snippet won’t be there.

For example, when we searched for “when is black friday” the first time we saw the snippet.


The next time around we saw just ordinary results.


 How exactly they affect your CTR

As we said earlier, the snippet may increase CTR due to the greater visibility. When your page is located on the 5th line, and the snippet takes you to the position above the 1st, you will become more noticeable to users. But it can also easily reduce the CTR – because the user has already received the answer he was looking for. Why should he go to the website?

Are they featured based on organic search ranking factors or not

According to Google, ranking position played some role in whether you get Featured Snippets or now. However, SEO-expert and STAT Search Analytics founder, Rob Bucci discovered that Google can take snippets from the content that ranks on Page 2 of Google SERPs. According to Larry Kim research about 70% of the time, Google pulled snippets from pages in positions 1 to 3. About 30 percent of the time, the snippets source comes from positions 4 to as deep as 71.


If Google’s were relying just on traditional search ranking factors it would never have to go to Page 8 for snippets.

Is the snipp-able format of content matter?

The 53,2% of snippets are text paragraphs. List snippets appeared in 35,6%, and table snippets in 11,5%.

In any case, snipp-able content definitely matters. You should focus on its educational, or even an encyclopedic character as well as the amount of words. On average – 40-50 words, according to SEMRush.


Are they really don’t rely on organic search ranking factors?

Yes, the first position at SERP does not necessarily give you the snippet, but some ranking factors still have a significant impact on its appearance. Larry Kim analyzed the page from position 10 which shows up as a snippet for queries related to “getting bing rewards points”. When he look at this page in Search Console, he noticed it got an unusually high CTR of 21.43 percent, which is 10x higher than you’d expect to see at this position.The time on site (which is proportional to dwell time) was an amazing 14 minutes and 30 seconds.


He analyzed 50 more pages with snippets and found that the relative time on site for pages that were snipped from low positions on the SERP has incredibly higher time on page, compared to the site average.


Engagement metrics have a significant impact on your chances to get the snippet.

So, what should you focus on to jump over the TOP?

  1. Keep your positions at the high level. Yes, they don’t affect your snippet chances that much, but you can’t ignore all together as about 70% of the time, Google pulled snippets from pages in positions 1 to 3. Use Website Audit tool to identify and eliminate errors  that hold you back. And of course, check your positions regularly.
  2. Use structured data to mark up your page holding the question and answer. markup is appeared on 15.7 percent of featured snippet URLs. Snippets love tables too. Tags like <ol> and <table> showed up at much greater frequencies. <table> markup is observed 21.8 percent more often on featured snippet URLs than on regular search results, and <ol>markup was 41.6 percent more common.
  3. Create educational content. Investigate what queries lead users to your website and make a direct and clear answers to these questions. The most common words are average (has a 77.71 percent featured snippet frequency), many (72.06 percent) and much (69.95 percent), what (56,58%). Use your blog to publish content like  “What is the Black Friday?”, “How to setup a wifi?” and explore the topic as compelling as possible.
  4. Optimize it!
  • place the search query (including “what”, “where”, “how”) in a header tag (h2, h3, h4, etc).

  • place the answer immediately after that in a <p> tag. Ideally, it should be 40-50 words long.

  • answer the question logically. Google is getting signals all the time about how users are responding to your content, so be sure to give them what they are looking for.

For all of your other SEO projects – use SE Ranking 🙂

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