30-second summary:

  • Featured snippets account for a 35.1% share of all clicks.
  • The featured snippet and knowledge panel SERP give a better click-through rate together.
  • Users click on featured snippets that seem “informative”.
  • Users who prefer the regular search results listings don’t click on featured snippets.
  • “People also ask” boxes are an unpopular choice showing the lowest amount of clicks.
  • 24% of users consider a featured snippet as an ‘Ad’ and don’t click on it.

Featured snippets are probably the first thing people see when they perform a search query. Acquiring the position ‘zero’ on the SERPs, the featured snippets dominate the page and immediately capture the attention of the viewer. 

However, does it make an impact on the visitor? Do the featured snippets get more clicks when compared to the top results? How does the audience perceive them?

To answer these questions and more, we at Engine Scout recently conducted a study and analyzed how featured snippets influence searchers’ behavior and overall experience. 

The methodology applied for the featured snippet study

In our study on featured snippets, we collected data from 3552 testers, who were asked to look at four different SERPs with snippets. They were required to make a search on Google related to a specific keyword and make a selection from the results.

To collect an unbiased opinion, featured snippets were not mentioned anywhere in the survey.

There were three choices for the testers to choose from: Ads, featured snippets, and regular result listing.

They were later asked which section they clicked on to estimate the Click-through rate (CTR). 

Featured snippets - sections

What is a featured snippet and how does it boost website traffic?

The featured snippet is a summarized extract from a post that answers the user’s ‘search query‘ most accurately. It is placed above all the Google search result listings, occupying position zero.

This means no matter what your website’s ranking for a certain post if Google chooses a featured snippet from your post, it will appear on the top.

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According to Ahrefs, it is 99.58% true that Google will only consider your content for a featured snippet if it is already ranking on Page #1. The other 0.42% pages that Google considers account for their ‘People also ask’ box SERP feature. This feature only receives a total of 6% click shares, for the same reason.

The ‘concise and direct‘ nature of these featured snippets motivates users to click on them. According to our study, they account for 35.1% of all clicks which translates to getting ‘extra traffic‘ to your website. 

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Optimizing a post to rank for a featured snippet can be tricky. Any content can be worthy of becoming a ‘Featured-Snippet,’ including a paragraph, a list, table, or even a video.

Try these three quick strategies to win more featured snippets that get clicks to your website.

1. Include direct answers to a search query in a paragraph snippet

Paragraph snippets account for 82% of the total featured snippets.

These snippets give the most relevant response to a query in a paragraph form. They usually also display a pertinent image alongside or above the text.

Here is an example of how Google shows a paragraph snippet when asked about ‘What is SERP?

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2. Make the best use of keywords in your paragraph

Attaining the first rank in Google for a keyword requires quite an effort. 

Enriching your optimized content for featured snippets with the right keywords increases your chances of that ‘Position Zero‘ in the SERP.

Try to include question-oriented keywords in your content. People find search results with keywords resonating with their question as “trustworthy” and “informative.” This is the primary reason why they prefer a featured snippet over all other organic results.

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Take a close look at your competitor’s featured snippets for some inspiration. Make a list of keywords that have triggered a featured snippet for them, and make your content surrounded by these keywords.

Several online tools can lessen your workload by retrieving information and keywords from the competition’s snippets. You can use them if you find it time-consuming to manually optimize your content for featured snippets.

3. Include a knowledge panel in your content marketing strategy

A box with information relevant to a search query appearing on SERP’s right panel is called a Knowledge Panel

It only appears when the search is about an entity, for example, business, person, or location. The information inside this box lets the reader know about the entity and gives them a way to reach out to it.

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Featured snippet alone offers a close competition to the organic listing for the total click share. 

But pages ranking for both the featured snippet and the knowledge panel outperform the organic listings for the CTR. A double featured snippet leaves behind the CTR of organic listings, getting 42.1% of the total click share.

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Therefore, it is an added benefit if you strategize your featured snippet to trigger a knowledge panel. 

For reference, check out this post to see how Gennaro Cuofano structured his featured snippet with his Amazon author page reference. Google considered this reference and used it to display a knowledge panel alongside his featured snippet.

The other side of the story

Featured snippets can sometimes work opposite to their intent.

According to our study, 24% of users confuse featured snippets for Ads.

Featured snippets and how people confuse them for an ad

Therefore, merely optimizing content to target the featured snippet doesn’t ensure a high CTR.

Google keeps altering its interface to make the Ad label on the paid search results barely noticeable. 

As featured snippets also acquire the top position on SERPs, it is very natural for someone to get confused and not click them.

According to Dr. Pete Meyers, the Marketing Scientist at Moz:

“The lesson for SEOs is that we can’t just target a feature — we need to understand query intent, what our buyers expect from that feature, and how they perceive that feature.”

Try to make your content look like a straightforward, quick answer to a query with images for references to appear very different from an ad.

Wrap up

Google introduced the featured snippet to make it easy for searchers to find relevant answers quickly. With voice search technology becoming a common search tool for half of the smartphone users,  featured snippets catered to the trend and enabled users to read the answer out loud.

To make Google identify your content worthy to pick snippets from, you have to optimize your content so it’s relevant and appropriate for voice search SEO, so it helps to bring in more traffic to your site. 

Jonathan Gorham is Co-Founder at Engine Scout Digital Marketing. He can be found on LinkedIn.



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