How to Get Google Featured Snippets: 9 Tips for Optimization

Here are 9 tips to follow when optimizing for the featured snippet - such as using the 'is' statement and defining the topic accurately.

How to Get Google Featured Snippets: 9 Tips for Optimization

Google Featured Snippets are a great way to improve your site's search engine visibility. This post will walk you through the 9 tips for optimization to get Google featured snippets.

What Is a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is a search result that appears above the regular results on the Google search page. It is intended to give the searcher a "quick answer" to their query. Google selects featured snippets based on what it believes to be the most relevant result for the user's query. 

Featured snippets usually appear for queries that are considered to be "high intent" - meaning that the searcher is likely looking for a specific piece of information, and is likely to be ready to take action on that information. 

Some SEO experts believe that being selected as a featured snippet can help increase website traffic, as the website will appear prominently on the search page. However, no guarantee being selected as a featured snippet will result in increased traffic, as featured snippets are only one type of search result. 

Featured Snippet Optimization

If you're interested in trying to get your website selected as a featured snippet, there are a few steps you can do to improve your featured snippets:

  • Add a “What is” heading.
  • Use an “is” sentence structure.
  • Match the featured snippet format.
  • Fully define the topic.
  • Don’t use your brand name.
  • Don’t use first-person language.
  • Scale featured snippets.
  • Prioritize when ranking in the top five.
  • Iterate your optimizations.

The featured snippet seems to be running on a more simple algorithm than Google's "core" algorithm. The featured snippet is more impacted by simple on-page adjustments that clearly define the topic for users.

Featured Snippets and Voice Search

Also, remember that one of the goals of the featured snippet is to support voice search.

Google reads featured snippets when users make voice queries on mobile devices or Google Home devices. This means that featured snippets should always make sense in this context.

When optimizing your featured snippets, it makes sense to ask yourself, "What would my answer look like if it were read back into voice search?"

Types of Featured Snippets

You may notice that there are several types of featured snippets. Knowing each type is important to understand how to organize your content to optimize it.

Here are the most common types of featured snippets.

1. Paragraph

The most common type of featured snippet, a paragraph consists of two or three sentences taken from the HTML <p> element.

featured snippet for what is seo and how it works

2. Table

The information table is taken from the HTML <table> element. This type of featured snippet is the least common.

3. List

A bulleted or numbered list is generally pulled from the HTML <ol> or <ul> element.

featured snippet for seo quick wins

How to Improve Google Featured Snippets

Over the years, one of the things I've been able to focus on is how to improve the featured snippet.

1. Add a “What is"  Heading

To start your featured snippet optimizations, you'll need to find a place in your content to add the "What is [keyword]" title tag. This indicates to Google that your upcoming text could be useful as a featured snippet.

Countless examples of pages getting the featured snippet using this title format. We have seen good success rates when repeating this strategy for our clients.

Ideally, you'll add this title as close to the top of your content as possible. If writing a blog post, I would generally add it right below the introductory paragraph. This is a great place to add it because it flows well with the content while allowing you to include it near the top of the page.

For example, here's a great example from Technology Advice. We can see that they have listed this section below the Table of Contents at the top of the page:

What is project management software

Adding this section gives Google a clear indication of what text they can put into the featured snippet.

2. Use the “is” Sentence Structure

When optimizing your featured snippet, it is important to include the "is" clause.

The first sentence should begin with the structure: "The keyword is"

Here are some examples of the results of getting the featured snippet:

  • Agile methodology is a type of project management process used for software development "
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is software that automates and manages the customer lifecycle in an organization.
  • "Return on Investment (ROI) is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or compare the efficiency of several different investments."

Our analysis of pages that consistently receive featured snippets shows that "is" phrases are used in the text.

In our experience, this content structure appears to act as a "trigger phrase" that allows Google to easily find the relevant text for the featured snippet.

To boost your chances of landing a featured snippet spot, make sure your first sentence follows this format. With the "is" statement, you should see a higher percentage of optimizations lead to the featured snippet winning.

3. Match the Featured Snippet Format

As mentioned earlier, the different types of featured snippets include:

  • Paragraphs (most common).
  • Bulleted and numbered lists.
  • Tables (less common).

This rule is simple. Whatever type of featured snippet you see on the SERP, match it in your content.

For example, if you see a highlighted paragraph snippet appearing for the term you want to improve, you need to find a place to add/edit two or three sentences of text.

However, if a bulleted list appears, you will need to add a list similar to the content of your page.

4. Fully Define the Topic in 2-3 Sentences

It is the most important rule to follow. Featured snippets should give users as much information as possible about the topic.

This means that the content you are optimizing should try to describe the topic as fully as possible in two to three sentences. For this rule, brevity is extremely important.

Below are some general guidelines we try to follow when trying to define featured snippets succinctly.

  • The first sentence should define the topic.
  • The second and third sentences should describe 2 to 3 facts you should know about the topic.
  • Avoid using any extraneous wording in your definition.

This follows the above pattern of first describing the topic and then providing users with two facts to identify it.

  • Forensic accounting is a specific accounting technique for detecting crimes.
  • It is used to provide evidence of financial misconduct to the courts.
  • Forensic accounting is widely used in the insurance industry.

Also, note how the text does not use superfluous words in the definition. It is short and direct.

5. Don't Use Your Brand Name in a Featured Snippet Text

The company will get rules 1-4 right but it will use some language that makes the result disqualified for the featured snippet. Brand names are one example of such language.

Remember, featured snippets feed into voice search. Devices like Google Home will read directly what's in users' featured snippets. This means that the content needs to be fully understood in this context.

For example, let's say Wegmans was trying to improve on the featured snippet "Health benefits of avocado" and used the following sentence:

  • "Avocados from Wegmans have health benefits as they are a source of  vitamins C, potassium  and riboflavin"

When read by a voice assistant, this can be confusing because the researcher was looking for general benefits that apply to all avocados — not just the ones sold by Wegmans.

Replacing the brand name with generic language will give your content a higher chance of receiving a featured snippet.

An ideal optimization might look like this:

  • “Avocados have health benefits because they are a source of vitamins C, potassium  and riboflavin.”

6. Don't Use First-Person Language

Similar to the previous rule, using first-person language can be a mistake due to the implications of voice search.

In the example above, let's say the text on the page optimized for the featured snippet is read:

  • "Avocados have so many health benefits. We have avocados that are of a great source of riboflavin, vitamin C and potassium."

The user may ask:

  • Who is the "we" referred to?
  • Does this information apply to their products only?

It appears that the information may be specific to a type of avocado and may not apply to food in general.

Limiting this type of wording may also help you improve your chances of receiving a featured snippet.

7. Scale Featured Snippets When Possible

We've seen interesting behavior over the years with bulleted-listed snippets.

So, when looking at the page, there is no specific bulleted list. 

What Google appears to be pulling the featured snippets from are actually the individual product listings within the category page, and all selected text appears formatted as H3.

The example shows us that in some results, Google scrapes title tag information to display them as featured snippets. This provides an interesting opportunity where the featured snippets can be scaled using modifications to the HTML.

I strongly recommend adjusting the HTML on category pages from standard paragraph tags to H2 or H3 tags for some customers. This may send stronger signals that can extend featured snippet optimization globally.

So, you should take the time to review where Google is pulling your competitors' featured snippets from. If you see common HTML elements, consider modifying global templates to give your content the best chance of triggering the featured snippet.

8. Prioritize Opportunities Where You Rank in the Top Five

Previous studies have shown that site ranking matters in terms of claiming a featured snippet. Simply put, the higher your rank, the higher your chance of claiming it.

A study by Ahrefs showed that ranking results in the first place had a 30.9% chance of receiving a featured snippet. Positions 2 and 3 have a chance of 23.5% and 15.9%, respectively.

The higher your site ranks in the "standard" results, the greater the chance of generating a featured snippet.

When prioritizing, look for keywords for which you already rank in the top 5 results.

9. Repeat Your Optimizations

You have followed the above steps.

You have written great content on the page that clearly describes the topic under a dedicated “what is” heading at the top of the page.

You have also been sure to stay away from any first-person branding or jargon.
You push the improvements into production and wait for Google to re-index your content.
When Google finally indexes your new changes, your page still doesn't generate the featured snippet.

This is not the time to stop improving. Instead, repeat your approach and try again. For the many feature snippets we get, it can take several iterations.

At this stage, I've found that using the above process generally gets you 80% of the way.

If the result is still not receiving a featured snippet, minor tweaks tend to work well.

  • Look for opportunities to better define the topic, use more concise wording or experiment with highlighting different facts (see Rule 3).
  • Start with minor adjustments and work up to larger adjustments if you still don't see the results you want.

Earn Featured Snippets and Boost SERP Visibility

We hope these guidelines help you when optimizing your featured snippets.

Remember that it is very important:

  • Use the "is" statement.
  • State the entire topic in two to three sentences.

By following the above rules, you should be able to significantly improve the number of premium snippets you can receive for your site.

Ali Al-Talhi
By : Ali Al-Talhi