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Amanda Koehler

Digital Marketing Practice Director

For more than a decade, Amanda has helped Northwoods clients achieve their digital marketing goals through impactful, data-driven digital marketing strategies. Her approach is centered on careful listening, meticulous research, and a deep understanding of data analytics, and she holds certificates in both Google Analytics and Google AdWords. An experienced lecturer and webinar presenter, Amanda is one of our top digital trailguides and has helped countless students, clients, and marketers better understand the complex world of SEO and analytics. Away from Northwoods, she enjoys spending time cooking, traveling, and painting.

What Is a Featured Snippet?

August 8, 2022 | Amanda Koehler, Digital Marketing Practice Director

4 Minute Read

Updated: August 8, 2022
Originally Published: August 19, 2019


Featured Snippets are the boxes of information Google shows at the very top of the search results. 

Since the dawn of search engines, we've all pursued the #1 organic position on Google search engine results pages. But several years ago, Google replaced the traditional #1 position with instant answers, featured snippets, definitions, and more.

What does this mean for your SEO strategy? 

What Appears in the Featured Snippet Area?

The Featured Snippet takes many forms, and Google experiments with new types every day. Knowledge Graphs, carousels, measurements, definitions, and local packs all currently occupy this coveted #1 position. 

When Do Featured Snippets Appear?

Featured Snippets answer – usually directly answer – user questions. They generally come with some additional information and the URL of the source of the content. There are many types of Featured Snippets. The intent of the query determines the type of Featured Snippet that is returned.

For example, if the keyword asks “how to” do something, the featured snippet will return the first steps in a process and a link to learn more:

Process featured snippet

If the keyword includes the phrase “what is,” the featured snippet will supply a brief answer and a link to learn more:

Featured Snippet answer box

People Also Ask Boxes

People Also Ask, an additional item from Google, frequently appears under the Featured Snippet. People Also Ask provides users with related questions to put into Google to get additional results, including different Featured Snippets. In the Taco example, the People Also Ask box includes:

People Also Asked Box

Each question within the Peopled Also Ask box opens another Featured Snippet, usually coming from a different website. If the SERP has four additional questions, one keyword could yield five separate Featured Snippets.

Where Does Featured Snippets Content Come From?

The most important thing to know about the Featured Snippets is that the content comes from the pages listed within the traditional organic results on the search engine results pages.

If your content is already ranking high on the first page, you’re poised to take over the Featured Snippets spot. Typically, Featured Snippets opportunities come from organic search results in positions 2 through 4. So you may not even need to be #1 on Google to crack the Featured Snippets area.

How Do You Get into the Featured Snippets?

The first step in getting into Featured Snippets is to consider your keyword topics. What keywords do you want to rank for? What keywords do you currently rank for? Once you determine your keyword topics, find the questions people are asking that relate to your topics.

For example, if you sell frying pans, you probably have historically wanted to rank for high search volume keywords, such as:

  • Best frying pans
  • Frying pans for sale

For a strategy aimed at getting the sale right away, these keywords make sense. However, for a Featured Snippets strategy, you need to move beyond these keywords and focus on the questions people are asking, such as:

  • What frying pan is healthy?
  • How are frying pans made?
  • Can frying pans go in the dishwasher?

Put these questions into Google and they will each return a featured snippet. Once you have a list of questions you want to rank for, you can develop content to answer those questions.

How to Optimize Your Content for Featured Snippets

Your content must rank on the first page of Google to show up in the featured snippet. So will need to take the time to optimize your content. The first step is to take a look at what is already ranking high for your target questions. Are the featured snippets and first page results in the form of a list? A process? A blog post? How long are they? What keywords do they include?

Analyzing the top results for your target query can give you great insight into how you can format your content so that Google will give it a high ranking.

Once you write your content, it is back to SEO basics. Make sure you optimize your page title and meta description. Include your new content in the XML sitemap, and fetch the content in Search Console. Incorporate your new content into your link building strategy.

Remember, SEO takes time, and a Featured Snippets strategy will not produce results overnight. But the more you focus on creating content to answer users’ specific questions, the larger your keyword universe will be and the more Google will see you as an authority in your space.

If you need help creating or executing on your Featured Snippets or overall SEO strategy, our expert digital marketing team is ready to assist! Contact us anytime.