What are “Featured Snippets”?

Let’s do a quick Google Search and find out…

Featured snippet answer for the question "What are featured snippets?" on Google.


To elaborate: Featured Snippets were colloquially called “Position 0” because they appear above all regular search results. Featured snippets are text excerpts that most often appear as answers for keywords formatted as questions. Featured snippets are also the piece of content that will be read when using Google Assistant or voice search.

Do you need to rank on the first page to get a Featured Snippet? 

The page ranking for the featured snippet doesn’t have to rank first for the said keyword at the time it gets chosen for the snippet status – Google picks featured snippets based on what they believe to be the most relevant and information-dense written paragraph in relation to the question asked.

However, the only pages eligible for a featured snippet are those ranking on the first page, meaning that while you don’t have to rank first – you need to first rank at least in position 10 beforehand.

Once a page grabs a featured snippet, the actual content no longer ranks on the first page. The reason for this was confirmed to be an attempt to avoid duplicate content being shown to the user.

Is there only one Featured Snippet for each keyword? 

Sometimes, Google has multiple websites showing multiple featured snippets for one keyword. A different featured snippet will be shown to users who look up the same question again after a certain period of time has passed from their initial search – assuming that the first snippet they’ve seen didn’t provide the answer they were looking for.

As of 2022/2023, Google is also testing showing 2-4 featured snippets at a time.

What if a Page loses a Featured Snippet? 

If a page loses a featured snippet for a keyword, it will likely go back to ranking in the position it had before it secured a featured snippet, because it needed to rank on the first page to be eligible for a snippet in the first place.

Why are Featured Snippets important?

Studies show that featured snippets get about of all clicks for a given query. Featured snippets stand out so much that the rest of the search results page often gets overshadowed.

Whether or not Featured Snippets are important in your unique case depends on your industry and service offering. One in 20 searches is health-related, and these are often questions that have featured snippets. In that sense, SEO optimization for featured snippets is crucial for online healthcare marketing.

How does Google know what would make a Good Featured Snippet? 

The algorithm for featured snippets is developed based on user feedback (every snippet has a feedback CTA on the bottom right). More often than not, they declaratively echo the question asked, and provide an information-dense “gist” of the long-form content pieces competing for the same keyword.

Featured snippets are most often 40-50 words long (equaling around 300 characters).

The likelihood of securing a featured snippet also increases with proper JSON-LD FAQ schema markup implementation.

What Exactly is the “People Also Ask” box? 

The “People Also Ask” (PAA) box is a box containing related questions to the query the user has currently posed, alongside a snippet answer to each question.

Are Featured Snippets the same as the “People Also Ask” section?

No, the “People Also Ask” section and featured snippets coexist as two different search functions.

People Also Ask Box for "What are featured snippets", appearing below the snippet, showcasing four questions: "How does a featured snippet work?", "How do you Get a Featured Snippet?", "What are the Benefits of Featured Snippets" and "What is an Example of a Featured Snippet?"


How are PAA Questions and Featured Snippets similar? 

The tactic for optimizing your content for PAAs is the same as Featured Snippets: using schema markup, and information-dense writing with a limited set of characters.

Why are PAAs important?

PAAs don’t promise the same click-through rates as the Featured Snippet. However, sometimes, a results page will have PAAs – but not a featured snippet.

The PAAs will also show different snippets than what the user will see as a featured snippet if they look up the questions manually.

Featured snippet answer from Backlinko for "How does a Featured Snippet Work"?: "Featured snippets are short snippets of text that appear at the top of Google's search results in order to quickly answer a searcher's query. The content that appears inside of a Featured Snippet is automatically pulled from web pages in Google's index"


People Also Ask Box answer from Google for "How does a Featured Snippet Work"?:  "Featured snippets come from web search listings. Google's automated systems determine whether a page would make a good featured snippet to highlight a specific search request. Your feedback helps us improve our search algorithms and the quality of your search results".


Sometimes, questions that appear in a PAA snippet do not have identified search volume in keyword research tools yet – because there is no 12-month data for them. Optimizing for featured snippets “found in the wild” before tools can pick them up is a powerful tactic for gaining an advantage over one’s competitors.

SEMrush showing no keyword data for "what are the benefits of featured snippets"


Additionally, when a user clicks on a PAA question dropdown to see its answer, 1-4 more related questions will appear. 

People Also Ask box showing six questions, alongside "what are the benefits of featured snippets"


As such, while the user sees only one snippet per search – the number of PAAs could be virtually indefinite. As long as they engage with the PAAs, they can discover more questions.

Are Snippets used Anywhere Else on Google?

Yes – in addition to featured snippets and PAA answer snippets, text marked up with FAQ schema and formatted as a snippet may also appear in a knowledge graph panel.

Essentially, a knowledge graph is generated to provide a summary of available information for a given search query and appears on the right-hand side of SERPs. Knowledge graphs are rarer than featured snippets or PAAs as their generation requires more data validation.

SERP knowledge graph for Search Engine Optimization by Wikipedia


FAQs, marked with an FAQ schema, can also be displayed on regular first-page results as dropdown menus – creating a rich and engaging search result.

SERP result for Niel Patel's "What is SEO? Your Complete Step-By-Step Guide" blog post, with two dropdown FAQs: "How long does it take for SEO to work?" and "What is the most important factor in SEO marketing?"


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