For those of us old enough to even remember the days before Google and search engines in general, it’s funny to think about just how far this crazy ol’ Internet thing has come.

As the gimmick of the Internet quickly gave way to what has become the be-all, end-all of online culture, search engines like Google continue to reign supreme as the single most important site on the Internet.

And as such — for everyone from small business owners and digital marketers to video pros — understanding how Google works and how to put your websites and videos at the top of its all-important algorithm is still huge.

Today let’s go over Google featured snippets and explore how you can make sure your business gets the best click-through rates by being the top quote (or video) featured for all the relevant search results you want to rank for.

So, let’s back up for a sec. What are Google’s featured snippets? And, more importantly, how do they work? Google’s featured snippets are highlighted sections (either of text, a list or a video) which appear at the top of a Google search results page.

Chances are you’ve seen these featured snippets several — if not hundreds or thousands — of times answering your questions as to what are the steps to rebooting your iPhone to listing out what foods might be poisonous to your dog.

These snippets are meant to answer the myriad of questions asked with your Google searches as they appear well above any of other links or descriptions. These snippets are also called “Rank 0” or “Position 0” in terms of search results. And as such, they are a very valuable space to inhabit for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes.

What are the different types of featured snippets? 

Now that we’ve briefly defined what Google’s featured snippets are, let’s give some examples of what these snippets actually look like. And truth be told, while the term snippet makes it seem like these are usually just short sections of text, they can actually be video clips or much more substantive in terms of information.

Here are the different types of featured snippets you’ll find in your Google search results.

1. Paragraph snippets

The paragraph snippet is a great place to start as it’s the most basic type of featured snippet which you’ll find on Google. These paragraph snippets simply scan your page or blog article and find the relevant information which correlates to the phrase searched.

This paragraph format can vary from a single, short sentence to several sentences long. However, from an SEO perspective, it’s a good idea to keep information in your articles and pages simple and direct so Google clearly knows which sections to highlight.

2. Bullet lists

Along with the numbered list (which we’ll get into below), the bullet list might be the most common type of Google featured snippet which most surfers will find online. The bullet list does what its name implies as it simply and clearly gives the bullet points regarding the correlating Google search.

From an SEO perspective, it can be helpful to try to keep your bulleted lists short and direct as well — plus clearly on the topic of answering any specific queries or concerns.

3. Numbered lists

Similar to bullet lists, numbered lists are another popular Google featured snippet type which you see for anything from cooking recipes to steps for troubleshooting all types of problems or issues. Numbered lists can range from a few steps to over a dozen, however Google might cut your list short if it’s too long with a “more items” icon to encourage a click.

From an SEO perspective it certainly behooves you to list out your numbered points early in your article or page as a way to let Google know where your steps are and which ones to include in any snippets.

4. Tables

Another helpful snippet type which Google likes to pull is the table type which works with any sorts of charts (or tables, obviously) which might appear on your page. You see these types of snippets when searching for information that requires more than just simple bulleted points or lists. These tables are often more complex Microsoft Excel-style charts with multiple rows and columns.

Similar to any types of lists, from an SEO perspective the trick for getting your charts included as Google snippets are much the same. Keep your information clear, direct and concise so that even if you’re working with a lot of info, Google can scan and find the relevant section for the search.

5. Knowledge panels

While not quite the same type of snippet as the others, Google also likes to create knowledge panels which appear to the side of your searches. These knowledge panels in particular will usually only pull information from reputable sources like Wikipedia or the official page of the query.

There’s not much you can do in regards to these knowledge panels from an SEO perspective besides make sure your pages are clear and informative.

6. Knowledge cards

Similar to the knowledge panels we also have to quickly feature the knowledge card type of snippet as well. The knowledge card works pretty much just like the knowledge panel except it appears at the very top of the search results page and it contains less info to answer the most direct of searches.

The knowledge card also provides links to other relevant searches and is not one many web designers or content creators have much control over.

7. Product carousels

Also sometimes called an entity carousel, this featured snippet type works exactly as it sounds as a way for a page visitor to scroll through multiple products, entities, or links. You see these types of snippets most often when searching for specific products like a toaster, a camera, or a car perhaps as Google will auto-load several different options for a visitor to view at the top of the page.

8. Video features

Finally we have our favorite types of featured snippets, the video feature! As you might guess, these types of snippets on Google are an actual video which you can click on and view to answer your search request. These videos will either be the full version, or often a recommended section of a video which it tells you to watch.

As such, from an SEO perspective, it’s important to utilize chapters and sections within your videos to help Google know which parts to pull. 

Why should I care about featured snippets, anyway? 

So now that we’ve gone over the different types of featured snippets we can dive into how they work, and how they can be helpful to understand for content creators and web designers alike. As anyone in the world of SEO can tell you, creating pages, blog articles, or even videos that correspond to certain search phrases can be quite lucrative.

If your page or video is the top option for a phrase like “video production in NYC” or “where can I buy vintage camera lenses online?” you can get a lot of search traffic to your website. However, depending on how popular a web search is, the competition for those top search results can be quite contested.

Since Google introduced the featured snippet though competition has gotten even more intense as having the page which Google features for the snippet is placed well above any other search results, which gives it the “position 0” moniker.

If your page, article or video can inhabit this position 0 featured snippet you can expect to get a lot more search traffic to your website or video.

What about videos? 

Which brings us back to our favorite featured snippet type: the video feature. Google has made no secret of their fascination with video as a growing part of their search strategy. The number of video links which appear for many search queries has been growing steadily for years.

And these decisions aren’t made from any hidden agenda to push video on unwilling visitors either, instead those using Google for search results are more often than not preferring to watch a video over visit a web page or read a blog article.

If video isn’t a part of your overall SEO strategy you’re lagging behind. And, more so for video creators, if you aren’t keeping Google’s algorithm and SEO best practices in mind with your video content, you’re also missing out on a great deal of search traffic.

How to optimize for featured snippets     

Alright, alright, we’ve gone over pretty much everything you need to know about what Google’s featured snippets are, what they look like, and how they work. But how do you actually use this information to your advantage and to support your websites, blog posts and videos? 

Here are some tips to try out and keep in mind when creating your digital content:

  • Use clear page titles and URLs short and simple.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short and direct.
  • Use numbered or bulleted lists whenever possible.
  • Use headers with specific phrases or questions.
  • Answer searchable questions clearly in your text.

Similarly, here are some tips and tricks for optimizing your videos for featured snippets:

  • Use specific keyword phrases in your video titles.
  • Divide your content into chapters with specific titles.
  • Provide helpful information about your video’s content in the description.
  • Add captions to your videos.
  • Limit too much noise or cross-talk in your videos to keep things clear and concise.

Those are just some basic best practices though. I’m personally always a bit hesitant to give any hard SEO advice that might sound like you’re trying to “trick” the algorithm or go against Google’s system. 

At the end of the day Google is going to find and highlight the information that is most helpful to its users. If you can keep that mindset and focus on providing informative and helpful information and content, you’ll truly be giving Google exactly what it wants to find and feature.

Additional reading materials

Here are a few more resources to help you master Google’s ever-changing algorithms.