What are Featured Snippets?

The Featured Snippets are a SERP feature which is supposed to provide users with a concise, direct answer to their questions – right there on the search results page, without the users having to click through to a specific result.

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 search results for the query “what is today?”, we will get a Featured Snippet telling us one definite answer which Google believes to fit our question.

Featured Snippet for the query "what is today?"

This text is taken directly and automatically from the webpage that is linked to in the snippet.

The exciting part is that this snippet actually shows up right above the organic search results and below the AdWords block (which is missing in our example). Compared to Universal Search integrations, the Featured Snippets will not push an organic result off the first page. This is the reason we talk about Featured Snippets being shown at position 0.

Which different kinds of Featured Snippets are there?

Out in the wild, we were able to find a number of Featured Snippets, which we can sort into three categories.

Text Snippets

In our example snippet up top we have a snippet with just text. Aside from those, you can also find Text Snippets with pictures:

Featured Snippet for the query "where does honey come from?"

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

Video Snippets

Aside from text snippets, Google may also decide that a video is the best answer to your quetsion. If this is the case, you will be shown a video snippet. If you click on the preview picture, you will be taken to the linked domain.

Featured Snippet for the query "unboxing of samsung galaxy s7 edge?"

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

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