What Are Featured Snippets: How To Win Them in 2023

In the vast and ever-evolving landscape of search engine optimization, websites constantly strive to reach the top of the search results page.

And while being on the first page of search engine results is undeniably valuable, there’s a new, coveted position that has captured the attention of digital marketers and website owners.

Featured snippets or “Position Zero” as I like to call it (Yes, they are above the #1 result)

These concise, information-rich snippets appear at the top of search results, giving users an immediate preview of what they’re searching for, often in a summarized format or a direct answer to a specific question.

But how do you rise above the competition and secure this prime real estate?

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explore the strategies and best practices that can help your website capture position zero.

So let’s get started!

Types of Featured Snippets

Snippets appear in various formats, the most common ones being:

1. Definition Box

This is a small box of text that gives searchers a direct and concise description or definition.

For example, when you search for ‘digital marketing’, you will find a definition box at the top of the search results.

Definition box

Definition boxes usually answer “what is” queries like below.

definition boxes queries

2. Tables

This snippet is fetched by Google from various sections of your webpage and presented in the form of a table.

Better yet, if you have a table that answers the search query in your content, then Google will display the exact table in the featured snippet.

Example of a table featured snippet:

example of a table featured snippet

3. Ordered Lists

These are lists that need to be in a specific order to make sense. Examples can be recipes, workout steps, etc.

ordered lists featured snippet

Such a snippet can also use lists that rank things in a specific order like “Best SEO Tools ranked”.

4. Unordered Lists

These lists don’t need to be in a particular order or sequence like the one below.

unordered lists featured snippet sample

5. Video Snippets

Sometimes, in the eyes of Google, the best answer to a query is a video showing how to do something.

Like this one:

video snippet sample

The nature of the act of drifting a car is such that it can’t be explained through text. It needs a video.

Why Are Featured Snippets Important (Or Are They?)

You might be wondering why someone would bother clicking on a search result snippet if the information they’re looking for is already displayed on the SERP.

Well, it’s true that in some cases, if the snippet is just a definition like below, people might not click through.

But when the snippet presents an ordered list like the one below, there’s a higher likelihood that users will click through to read more after going through the steps or list.

A 2017 study by Ahrefs shows that featured snippets receive around 8.6% of all clicks. That’s a significant number and shouldn’t be overlooked!

What’s more, to achieve a featured snippet, your website typically needs to be ranked on page 1 of Google already. So if you manage to secure the coveted position zero, your website will appear twice in the search results.

And who wouldn’t want that, even if it doesn’t necessarily result in additional click-throughs?

How To Optimize for Featured Snippets

Now let’s dive into how to get a featured snippet for your web pages.

1. Find Featured Snippet Opportunities

Not all queries on the internet have a featured snippet. SEMrush’s SERP volatility shows that only 5.75% of searches have featured snippets.

find featured snippet opportunities

So you need to find those queries or keywords for which you are ranking and Google displays featured snippets.

Let’s use SEMrush for this.

Select Organic Research from the left side panel > Enter your domain’s name > Positions tab > Select featured snippets in the SERP features section.

semrush SERP features

This will give you a list of all the keywords for which Google displays featured snippets. (Also, what your website is ranking for.)

semrush SERP features sample result

Now, you need to search for these keywords manually and see if you own the featured snippet or not.

If you are using Ahrefs, it will tell you if you own the featured snippets or not, saving you the effort.

The keywords for which you don’t have a snippet are the ones you need to optimize for.

2. Steal Your Rival’s Place

Once you have found the right opportunities, now is the time to snatch your rival’s position.

For this, you need to present your content in the exact format of your rival’s snippet, but better.

3. Identify the Format of the Answer

Search for your keyword and see what is the format of the answer. It may be a table, a definition, an ordered list, or an unordered list.

Whatever the format, you need to present your content in the exact same format.

In case of definition

If it is a definition, then simply write a definition for the keyword in plain and simple language. But make sure to place a heading or subheading before the definition, so that Google knows whose definition is it.

HubSpot takes it a step further by designing little definition boxes that look exactly like featured snippets.

seo sample heading

You don’t need to do this but ensure to place headings before your definitions.

Note: Never add your personal opinion or emotional touch to a definition, Google doesn’t want that. Google’s definition boxes have dictionary-like definitions.

In case of table

If a featured snippet is a table, simply present the exact information in a table on your own webpage. You can easily create tables in WordPress or use plugins like TablePress.

These tables come with structured markup that tells Google it is a table.

What is structured markup?

Structured markup, also called schema markup, is a method of organizing and labeling content on a website using special code. This code helps search engines understand the context and meaning of the content. For example, schema markup tells Google if the content is a table, blog post, FAQ section, pricing table, etc.

Although Google can collect various data from your content and show it in a table, mostly Google will fetch info from already-tabulated data.

In the case of our previous example “2019 car sales by brand”, when I open the webpage, I find the exact same table as the featured snippet.

structured markup sample

Which means that Google took the exact table from the webpage and put it in the featured snippet.

In case of an ordered list

If the snippet is an ordered list, then simply place the keyword as an H2 tag and then list down the points as H3 headings.

But make sure to be consistent in numbering or tagging your list.

For example, if you are using the H3 tag for list items, then use only the H3 tags for all the items.

To make it crystal clear to Google, you can also name your H3 tags as…

  1. Lorem ipsum
  2. Lorem ipsum
  3. Lorem ipsum


Step#1 Lorem Ipsum

Step#2 Lorem Ipsum

Step#3 Lorem Ipsum

Whatever you chose, be sure to be consistent.

In case of an unordered list

It goes the same way as the ordered list. Google is smart enough to figure out whether the list items make sense in or without an order.

In case of videos

If you want your videos to be featured on top of Google, simply add a video in your content close to a heading tag.

But make sure that the video is about something that can’t be explained through text.

If your heading is “How to make espresso coffee at home”, then your video won’t appear in the featured snippets as the recipe for espresso coffee can easily be presented in an ordered list within 5-6 steps.

Whereas our above example of “how to drift a car” can be featured owing to the complexity of the task or information.

Optimize Your Content Around a Lot of Long-Tail Keywords.

According to another study by Ahrefs, it turns out the majority of featured snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords.

So try to include long-tail keywords in your content. Mark these long-tail keywords as headings and subheadings and then provide an answer to these queries.

In order to find the long-tail keywords to target, look for the “People Also Ask” section on the SERP.

people also ask serps sample

These questions are perfect long-tail keywords that you can include in your content to optimize it for featured snippets.

How To Make Your Content Worthy of Featured Snippets

Although it makes sense to find snippet opportunities first, it won’t hurt to optimize each of your content pieces for snippets (no matter if those queries have a snippet or not; you can always be the 1st one to win the snippet)

For example, I am writing a post about “Blueshell Leaf”. (It is an imaginary word; let’s consider it a herb)

Then, some important sections of my content would be:

  • Introduction to Blueshell Leaf
  • Benefits of Blueshell Leaf
  • Ingredients of Blueshell Leaf
  • How to take Blueshell Leaf

Now, each of these sections could be optimized for featured snippets in the following way.

Definition Example

<h2> What is Blueshell Leaf? <h2>

Blueshell leaf is a herb that is used to treat diabetes. It is found in the Western Ghats of India. The herb…

Unordered list example

<h2> Benefits of Blueshell Leaf <h2>

  • Increased Metabolism
  • Reduces Body Fat
  • Lessens Cravings for Sugar and Dense Carbohydrates
  • Easy to Digest

Ordered List Example

<h2> How to take Blueshell Leaf? <h2>

<h3> 1. Drink lots of water before taking it <h3>

<h3> 2. Ensure that you’ve had a decently portioned meal <h3>

<h3> 3. Boil it in water for 5 minutes before consuming it <h3>

<h3> 4. Do not sleep for an hour after using it <h3>

Table example

<h2> Ingredients of Blueshell Leaf <h2>

Ingredient Benefit
Hydrocitric Acid (HCA) Reduces appetite and burns fat
Chromium Reduces insulin levels
Potassium Improves blood pressure
Calcium Increases body temperature

These were all examples of how to optimize your content for featured snippets. Just ensure to add the relevant schema markup wherever necessary.

Final Thoughts

Featured snippets can be a great way to improve your presence on the SERPs.

While they might not result in a lot of additional clicks for your website, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to be on the top of the search results (at #0).

So follow the guide above to get your site featured at the top of Google.

The key to scaling this up is to add lots of definitions, ordered lists and other formats that Google loves to put into Featured Snippets on your page.

Let me know in the comment below if you are using any specific strategies for optimizing for featured snippets.

If you found this post helpful, consider sharing it with people you think might benefit from it.

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