Optimizing for Google Featured Snippets

A recent study has found the commonalities of pages earning featured snippets within Google’s search results.  Brado and SEMrush looked at one million random SERPs containing featured snippets in order to identify common factors between pages who earn those coveted search positions.  This data is incredibly valuable to site owners and SEOs to create content that will likely have a better chance of being picked for a featured snippet.  

Featured Snippet Statistics

When studying over 150 million keywords on desktop and over 45 million on mobile, the study found the following: 

  • 19% of SERPs contain featured snippets.
  • 7.3% of SERPs contain double featured snippets.
  • 50% of a mobile screen is covered by a featured snippet.
  • 70% of featured snippets are paragraphs.
  • 19% of featured snippets are lists.
  • 6.3% of featured snippets are tables. 
  • 4.6% of featured snippets are videos.
  • The industries that have the largest percentage of featured snippets are travel, science, arts & entertainment, and computers & electronics.

Featured snippets show up most often for content specific keywords, such as long tail keywords.  When looking at queries of 10 words, 55.5% have a featured snippet.  Single word keyword searches have only 4.3% containing a featured snippet.  The percentage increases as more words are added to a query, and then drop off after 10 words.  

How to Optimize Content for Google Featured Snippets

Let’s look at the common factors shared by content earning featured snippet positions.  

1) Question Based Queries

29% of queries triggering featured snippets begin with a question word, such as why, can, or do.  Questions starting with why are at the top of the list.  Of all “why” queries studied, 77% return a featured snippet.  “Can” queries have the second largest percentage at 72%.  

2) Date Your Content

Google often returns dated content in featured snippets.  Of the various types of featured snippets, these are the percentages that return content with a date: 

  • List: 47%
  • Paragraph: 44%
  • Video: 20%
  • Table: 19%

Google likes to keep things current, with 70% of articles in featured snippets being published no longer than 3 years ago.  

3) Use Subfolders Sparingly 

The study mentioned above found that lengthy URLs are less likely to earn a featured snippet.  The ideal length is a URL with 1-3 subfolders.  Of all featured snippets studied, 37% link to a URL with 2 subfolders.  That is followed by 1 subfolder at 21.9% and 3 at 21.2%.

It’s unlikely that Google will return a website’s home page in the featured snippet position, as 0.4% link to a domain with no subfolders.  

4) Incorporate Multiple Questions in One Article 

It is recommended to create a “featured snippet hub” which can be accomplished by answering multiple questions in a single bit of content.  This will increase your likelihood of earning multiple featured snippets with a single URL.  Here are statistics about feather snippet hubs:

  • 98% use HTTPS
  • Content length is 1,100 words or more
  • 66% use structured data
  • The average is 14.5 heading tags
  • They contain an average of 8 images with ALT tags