What are Featured Snippets?

Featured Snippets are direct and concise answers to the question behind a search. They are displayed in the Google search results. They are highlighted and clicked on less frequently than normal, organic results.

Google has been showing more than just ads and organic results in the search for years. New formats are constantly being added to improve the search experience.

Featured Snippets are a format that gives the user a direct, concise answer to their question – directly in the search results, so that the user does not have to visit a website.

In this article, we summarise the most important information concerning the topic of Featured Snippets.

Lily Ray talks about Featured Snippets

Lily Ray is a member of the SISTRIX data journalism team.

What exactly is a Featured Snippet?

If we take a look at the first search results page for the query “what is the sistrix visibility index”, we directly find a Featured Snippet with the answer to our question:

Search results page for the search query "what is the sistrix visibility index". First, a Featured Snippet box is displayed.

Google directly and automatically takes the text from the page that is linked to in the snippet – in our case the result on sistrix.com.

The exciting part is that this snippet occupies the top organic result, just below the possible ad block (which is not present in this example). Like Universal Search results, the Featured Snippet displaces an organic result.

The Featured Snippet thus joins the various display formats that Google groups together as Rich Results.

Until the beginning of 2020, this was still different, which is why Featured Snippets were often referred to as “position zero”. This term is outdated.

The URL that takes up the Featured Snippet is not displayed a second time on the first results page. Google itself calls this “deduplication” of the results.

Which different kinds of Featured Snippets are there?

Out in the wild, we can encounter various Featured Snippets, which can be sorted into three categories.

Text Snippets

In our first screenshot, we have already seen the pure text snippet. Aside from those, you can also find text snippets with images:

Search results page for the search query "where does honey come from". First, a Featured Snippet box is displayed in which, in addition to the text, images are also displayed.

Looking at the data, it becomes apparent that a large percentage of text snippets are also taken from Wikipedia articles.

Video Snippets

Aside from text snippets, Google also displays video results for certain queries. In this case, a click on the preview image will take you to the linked page.

Search results page for the search query "iphone x unboxing". First, a Featured Snippet box is displayed showing videos on YouTube.

When it comes to video snippets, there is nearly no variety in domains. Most results, by far, are from YouTube.

Video Featured Snippets are excluded from deduplication, as in most cases a video hosted on YouTube is shown there. This snippet is still on position zero and does not displace any organic result.

List and Table Snippets

For some search queries Google may decide that a text may not be the best way to transfer knowledge and use a table or list instead. If this is the case, Google will still take the data from the linked page, even if the data itself is not structured.

Featured Snippet for the query "Who is the best doctor?"

Lists can also show a picture.

When it comes to tables, an answer may like like this:

Featured Snippet for the query "salary seo"

How Can I Get a Featured Snippet?

The million-dollar question, of course, is “how do I get one for my domain”?

The sobering answer is that Google will decide which search request are best answered by a featured snippet and which domain will be used for the answer itself.

There is a way for you to tell Google to not show a page from your domain for a snippet – by putting <meta name=“googlebot“ content=“nosnippet“> into the header of your page – but there is no markup to force Google to use your page.

The good news is that you also do not have to specially markup your HTML for Google to be able to create tables and lists from your text.

Featured Snippets and Voice Search

Another very important aspect of Featured Snippets come with their use in Google’s voice search. If you ask your Google Home appliance a question then it will not answer you with a list of 10 possible results but give you one answer. Provided the question can be answered that way.

The answer you will get will be taken from a Featured Snippet, which actually makes it possible for you to be the only answer for a voice search request.

Differentiating Between Featured Snippets and the OneBox

When we take a look at video results there is the potential for confusion, as Google may decide to not only show a featured snippet. Let’s take a look at a search for Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence”:

This may look like a featured snippet, at first sight, but upon closer inspection we will notice that below the video there are a number of additional information pieces in the box: Artist, Album, Genre and cover versions.

This information does not come from the linked domain, as it would be the case for a featured snippet, but is part of Google’s Knowledge Graph. Often called a OneBox, this example contains video information. Other types include weather and the knowledge graph.

Additional Information

Google: Featured snippets in search

SISTRIX: List of all Google SERP features