Google’s search results page (SERP) incorporates several features the common objective of which is to facilitate access to information for Internet users while providing them with an excellent browsing experience. Among these are featured snippets.
Featured snippet: definition
Featured snippets are short snippets of text. They appear at the very top of the Google results page during certain searches. Presented in a frame with well-defined contours, they provide a direct response to the Internet user’s request. This type of result is most often observed when the queries are worded in the form of a question.
The content that Google displays in featured snippets comes from trusted sites that are part of its index. These pages are said to be in position zero on the search engine, that is to say above the first natural result.
What is a featured snippet made of?
Typically, a featured snippet consists of 3 very distinct elements :
- Textual content of around 300 characters;
- A clickable blue link, called a meta-title, allowing access to the page whose content snippet has been featured;
- An image that may not come from the site from which the text displayed in featured snippet was taken.
Thanks to these elements, it responds in a concrete way to your request.
What is their origin ?
Featured snippets made their first appearance in 2014 in the results pages of Google in the USA. The feature was then integrated into the French and European results pages in April 2016. The Quick Answer Box, another response feature very close to the featured snippets, was however already active on the French SERPs since 2014.
What are the different featured snippets?
There is currently 6 featured snippets that appear most often in Google search results pages.
1 | Paragraph type ones
These are the featured snippets that we get most often. They provide in a few lines an explanation or a clear answer to a concept or a term searched by the user. According to a study by SEMrush (1), these featured snippets present content whose length varies on average between 40 and 60 words.
2 | Table type featured snippets
These featured snippets are most often displayed when the user searches for data or a ranking. The information is then presented in a table with several rows.
3 | Those in the form of a numbered list
These are numbered lists often presented by the search engine algorithm for instructions that must be followed in a specific order. The queries relating to cooking recipes are the ones that most often generate these optimized extracts.
4 | Featured snippets as bulleted lists
These featured snippets follow almost the same principle as those displaying numbered lists. Bulleted lists appear in Featured Snippets for present classifications or information in a synthetic way.
5 | Video type ones
For some queries, featured snippets are in the form of a video. They then come directly from YouTube and are accompanied by a title. The user clicks on the preview to directly view the extract without leaving Google’s SERP. It is most often requests for tutorials that benefit from this functionality.
6 | And finally, the featured snippet type multiple sources
Featured snippets potentially contain information or content from different sources. For example, when the response to a query requires illustrations, Google’s algorithm may pull them from several separate web pages in order to present them to the user. It can be images or videos, or both together.
How useful are featured snippets for websites?
Featured snippets help improve the visibility of a website. Indeed, when the content of a page is selected by Google’s algorithm to appear in position zero, it is systematically the most visible element on the SERP for this specific request. The URL of the highlighted site cannot therefore go unnoticed by users.
In addition, they have the option of clicking on the blue link that accompanies the featured snippet to access all the content on the page, and a lot of other useful information. It is therefore a channel through which websites can capture traffic and improve their click-through rate. It is therefore a good way to improve your natural referencing for your site. However, it remains to respect the SEO rule concerning the structuring of its website.
How to display your content in featured snippets?
It is not possible to force the display of a site’s content in featured snippets or in position zero. However, it is possible to carry out certain optimization actions in order to be eligible for this promotion in the eyes of the Google algorithm. Among other things, you must:
- Clearly identify the search intent of Internet users for each targeted query;
- Provide in your content clear, short and relevant answers to questions asked by Internet users;
- Respect the SEO rule which relates to the good structuring of your pages in order to allow search engine robots to easily understand them and to associate a main idea with each development;
- Write content in the most suitable formats according to the targeted requests. For example, for a recipe, the numbered list is required.
One last tip to maximize your chances of appearing in featured snippets is to take inspiration from what is already being done. Analyze the content present in position zero for the queries of your industry and try to do better, of course keeping the main optimization elements.
It can also be useful to identify with an analysis tool the keywords for which no content is available as featured snippet in order to direct your optimization efforts in this direction.