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SEO Web Design, LLC / SEO  / A Complete List of Google’s Featured Snippets Types via @amelioratethis

A Complete List of Google’s Featured Snippets Types via @amelioratethis

Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) have evolved dramatically over the years.

Organic search results are increasingly being eaten up by PPC ads, the Knowledge Graph[1], People also ask boxes, and other SERP features.

Introduced in 2014, featured snippets quickly became a signal of new hope for many SEO pros looking to dominate “position zero.”

Until last year, earning a featured snippet meant greater SERP visibility.

The chosen organic listing appeared twice in Google’s Page 1:

  • First, “above the fold” as the featured snippet.
  • Second, as one of the regular Page 1 organic search results.

That all changed on January 22, 2020, when Google started removing duplicate URLs[2] from SERPs containing featured snippets (a.k.a.,  deduplication[3]).

This update, along with findings[4] that featured snippets slightly reduce clicks to the organic search results as a whole, has caused some SEO pros to rethink whether landing featured snippets is still worth it.

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To be fair, Google has also recently rolled out a significant change that seems to be good for both users and publishers.

For some featured snippets results, Google will take the users to the relevant text to the search query[5] highlighted with a yellow background.

This is one of the few reasons why you may want to continue leveraging featured snippets as an organic opportunity.

Google’s Special Content Resource Blocks

Before we dive into the types of featured snippets (scroll down if that’s what you’re here for), let’s review a few definitions.

Special search results are known by a variety of names, so I want to make clear what is (and isn’t) a featured snippet.

1. Rich Answer (Not a Featured Snippet)

Rich Answers, also known as Instant Answers (formerly Quick Answers) are answered by Google, instantly, without credit to the site.

These answers typically cover short, factual things like how big the earth is (spoiler alert: 3,959 miles) or what’s 10 +2 (spoiler alert: 12).

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Google says they don’t need to provide credit because these answers are part of the public domain[6].

google instant answer

google instant answer

2. Knowledge Graph (Not a Featured Snippet)

Knowledge Graph answers often pull from a variety of sources and show up on the right in a big beautiful box or above the organic search results in a photo gallery (or carousel).

You’ll typically see these types of search results for brands, people, and organizations.

google knowledge graph

google knowledge graph

3. Rich Snippet (Not a Featured Snippet)

While they also use the word snippet, that’s where the similarities end.

A rich snippet enhances an organic search result, and often slightly expands its real estate, according to information marked up on the site using structured schema data[7] from Schema.org.

These search results pop with rating stars, product availability, and pricing information, as well as photos for reviews.

rich snippet example

rich snippet example

What Exactly Is a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is a special block above the organic search results that Google sometimes shows for certain queries, usually questions (i.e., who/what/where/when/why/how).

It contains a summary (in the form of a paragraph, a list, a table, or a video), as well as the page title, link to the webpage from which the answer originated, and URL.

Featured snippets (sometimes called answer boxes) live at the top of the search results like Rich Answers and Knowledge Graph results, but they differ in that Google pulls the information from one of the organic listings on the first page of search results, and Google gives that website credit via a link.

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With all three of these, Google is trying to make the searcher’s life easier: answering their questions within the search results, rather than forcing them to do additional research by clicking through to a website.

featured snippet example

featured snippet example

Types of Featured Snippets

Generally, featured snippets fall into one of three formats: the paragraph, list, or table snippet.

featured snippet types

featured snippet types

Let’s review what these look like in the search results, and what types of queries are best suited for each.

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The Paragraph Featured Snippet

This is the quintessential featured snippet we all know and love.

Google extracts text from a page in an attempt to answer the searcher’s question.

The way to make this kind of snippet help, instead of hurt, your click-through rate, is by answering the question immediately, and then including additional information that sparks the searcher’s interest and encourages them to click through.

FAQ pages are perfect for answering multiple short questions at once, while dedicated blog pages are better for more complicated questions.

featured snippet paragraph why question

featured snippet paragraph why question

You’ll see paragraph snippets for questions like:

  • How to do/get…
  • Who is…
  • Why is…
  • What is…

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paragraph snippet who question

paragraph snippet who question

The Numbered List Featured Snippet

These featured snippets often list out steps that explain how to do something, such as recipes.

recipe featured snippet

recipe featured snippet

What’s great about the example below is that it’s instantly clear that this will take you through the process step by step, but searchers are likely to click through to see accompanying photos or read the extra details.

numbered list featured snippet

numbered list featured snippet

You’ll see numbered list snippets for:

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  • Recipes.
  • DIY tasks.
  • How to…
  • How do I…

The Bulleted List Featured Snippet

This is one where content managers and SEO pros can both rejoice.

Listicle articles are made for these types of featured snippets, whether you’re ranking items or simply listing them.

Best Rated SUV 2020 Google featured snippet

Best Rated SUV 2020 Google featured snippet

You’ll see bulleted list snippets for:

  • Best of lists
  • Ranked items
  • Unranked items
  • Feature lists

SEO skills Google featured snippet

SEO skills Google featured snippet

The Table Featured Snippet

Table snippets are surprisingly popular, making up 29%[8] of all snippets. Google really likes to show off its capabilities with these.

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It doesn’t just pull the information and spit it out the way it’s formatted – it can pull the specific information the user is looking for, and recreate its own table, as in the example below.

This website actually shows a sortable list of the top auto brands, according to 2016 and 2015 sales, % change year over year, and market share in 2016 and 2015.

tabular information for featured snippet

tabular information for featured snippet

But because I searched for “2016 car sales,” Google scrolled to the bottom of the table to pull just what I needed and created its own table listing the aggregate numbers by brand for 2016.

table featured snippet

table featured snippet

The above example is a sortable, dynamic table, but you don’t have to be fancy for your table to rank as a featured snippet. The information Google pulled for the following snippet is a simple, static, non-sortable table.

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static table featured snippet

static table featured snippet

table source information for featured snippet

table source information for featured snippet

Featured snippet tables can also be more than one column, so don’t feel limited by the amount of information you show.

three column table featured snippet

three column table featured snippet

In fact, when aiming to rank for a table featured snippet, remember that size can work in your favor: make sure your table has more than four rows to increase the chance of people clicking through to your site.

You’ll see table featured snippets for:

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  • Lists
  • Pricing
  • Rates
  • Data

The YouTube Featured Snippet

When you think of featured snippets, think beyond your website. Google pulls these from YouTube as well.

So make sure you’re optimizing your videos to get chosen.

Google may show a specific clip from the video itself:

How to cut your hair long bob Google featured snippet

How to cut your hair long bob Google featured snippet

Or answer the searcher’s question using text from your video description:

youtube featured snippet

youtube featured snippet

You’ll see YouTube featured snippets for:

  • Any type of query that merits a featured snippet, with the exception of tables (which are hard to illustrate via video).

The Carousel Snippet

With carousel featured snippets, Google suggests related keywords a user may be searching for in little bubbles at the bottom (or top) of the snippet.

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carousel featured snippet

carousel featured snippet

Once any of these keywords are clicked, the content of the featured snippet changes (as do the search results below).

carousel featured snippet with refinement

carousel featured snippet with refinement

According to Moz research:

  • About two-thirds[9] of the bubbles come from websites that were displaying in spots 2 through 10.
  • The other third come from other sites that weren’t ranking for the original search query.

That means your website has multiple chances to snag this featured snippet spot, even if you didn’t get it the first time around.

The trick?

Making sure your content comprehensively covers a topic, from soup to nuts[10].

You’ll see carousel featured snippets for:

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  • Any type of query that requires deeper research, or further refinement to deliver a simple answer.
  • Queries where the answer changes based on the refinement (such as comparing dog insurance plans or banking fees).

carousel featured snippet banking fee

carousel featured snippet banking fee

The Double Featured Snippet

The double featured snippet[11] is just what it sounds like: Google displays two featured snippets, instead of just one.

double featured snippet

double featured snippet

With these snippets, Google is trying to cover their bases.

In case their pick for the first featured snippet doesn’t satisfy the user intent for a particular query, they’re hoping the second one will.

The good news with double featured snippets is that you have double the chance of being featured.

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The bad news is that if you’re in spots 3 through 10, your click-through rate decreases significantly.

You’ll see double featured snippets for:

  • Queries where Google is unsure of the user intent.
  • Keywords that could have multiple meanings, definitions, or interpretations.

The Two-for-One Featured Snippet

Not to be confused with the double featured snippet, there’s also the two-for-one, or combined, featured snippet.

Sometimes Google pulls from more than one site to answer a person’s question, as in the example below.

The text is from Cosmopolitan Magazine while the image is from YouTube.

featured snippet using two sites

featured snippet using two sites

Increase your chances of ranking for a featured snippet by including helpful, illustrative imagery with your content.

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You’ll see two-for-one featured snippets for:

  • Any type of query that merits a featured snippet and could be better illustrated with an image.

How to Win at Featured Snippets

Now that you know what featured snippets are available, how do you go about ranking for these?

Here are a few best practices.

1. Perform Keyword Research, with a Particular Focus on Questions

Questions provide the best fodder for featured snippets.

Paid tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush let you see which of your keywords are already ranking for featured snippets, and which ones aren’t (but another site is).

Free tools that let you see top long-tail question keywords include the “People also ask” sections in Google or AnswerThe Public.

Halloween Google featured snippet people also ask

Halloween Google featured snippet people also ask

2. Create Content and Imagery That Specifically Address the Keyword

Featured snippets tend to show just a few lines of a table or text (54-58 words[12], to be exact).

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Ideally, you answer the question with an introductory sentence or two, and then dive in deeper with supporting content.

Here’s an example of a blog dedicated to a single long-tail keyword, and an accompanying image with alt text matching the keyword.

Do I need a dedicated server featured snippet

Do I need a dedicated server featured snippet

3. Make It Easy for Google to Read with Proper Formatting

Steps 1 and 2 are the meat and potatoes, but you can’t forget the salt and pepper.

Format your page using basic HTML tags so Google can scan it better.

This means <h2> and <h3> tags for the questions or bullet points, <p> paragraph tags for the text, and <ol> or <ul> and <li> for the list items.

wordpress text formatting options for featured snippet

wordpress text formatting options for featured snippet

Conclusion

Featured snippets will continue to show up for an increasing number of queries as Google gets smarter and more people start using voice search.

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Anyone can get a coveted featured snippets.

Now you know how to get started.

So get to optimizing!

More Resources:


Image Credits
Featured image: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay
[13][14]
All screenshots taken by author

References

  1. ^ Knowledge Graph (www.searchenginejournal.com)
  2. ^ started removing duplicate URLs (www.searchenginejournal.com)
  3. ^ deduplication (www.searchenginejournal.com)
  4. ^ findings (ahrefs.com)
  5. ^ will take the users to the relevant text to the search query (www.searchenginejournal.com)
  6. ^ part of the public domain (support.google.com)
  7. ^ structured schema data (www.searchenginejournal.com)
  8. ^ 29% (www.slideshare.net)
  9. ^ About two-thirds (moz.com)
  10. ^ from soup to nuts (www.searchenginejournal.com)
  11. ^ double featured snippet (www.searchenginejournal.com)
  12. ^ 54-58 words (blog.hubspot.com)
  13. ^ Alexas_Fotos (pixabay.com)
  14. ^ Pixabay (pixabay.com)

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