How to get Google featured snippets: 9 optimization guidelines

The featured snippet is still one of the SERPs’ most coveted pieces of real estate. They allow your site to quickly jump to the top of the search results, even if the “traditional rankings” would place your site at the bottom of the first page. 

My team and I have had a lot of success optimizing for featured snippets over the years. Eventually, we developed our internal frameworks for what performs best in claiming these yearned-for positions. 

Below are the strategies we use to optimize for featured snippet results. 

A featured snippet is a two- to three-sentence summary of text that appears at the top of Google. Featured snippets directly answer a user’s query in the search results. Receiving a featured snippet can result in more traffic for a given page. 

Follow these steps to optimize for featured snippets::

  • Add a “What is” heading.
  • Use an “is” sentence structure.
  • Fully define the topic.
  • Match the featured snippet format.
  • Don’t use your brand name.
  • Don’t use first-person language.
  • Scale featured snippets.
  • Prioritize when you rank in the top five.
  • Iterate your optimizations.

The featured snippet appears to work on a more simplistic algorithm than Google’s “primary” one. The featured snippet is much more influenced by simple on-page adjustments that clearly define the topic to users. 

Also, remember that one of the goals of the featured snippet is to fuel voice search

Google reads back featured snippets when users perform voice queries on mobile or Google Home devices. This means that featured snippets must always make sense in this context. 

When optimizing for featured snippets, it makes sense to ask yourself, “How would my answer sound if it was read back on voice search?”

You might notice there are several kinds of featured snippets. Knowing each type is important to understand how to structure your content to optimize for them. 

What follows are the most common types of featured snippets.

Paragraph

The most common type of featured snippet, the paragraph is composed of two or three sentences of text pulled from a <p> HTML element. 

Featured snippet for "what are advisory shares"

List

A bulleted or numbered list generally pulled from either an <ol> or <ul> HTML element. 

Featured snippet for "home inspection checklist"

Table

A table of information pulled from a <table> HTML element. This is the least common type of featured snippet. 

Featured snippet for "crime rates in raleigh nc"

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Throughout the years, one of the things I’ve been able to hone in on is how to optimize for the featured snippet.

I’ve developed a set of rules to follow when optimizing client pages for this SERP feature. You can learn more about each rule below.

1. Add a ‘What is’ heading

To start your featured snippet optimizations, you’ll want to look for a place in your content to add a “What is ” heading tag. This signals to Google that your upcoming text could be helpful

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