Data-driven ways to optimize for snippets recommended by Google

New research on Google SERPs reveals key ways to optimize pages to maximize the potential for snippet gathering.

SEMrush and Brado analyzed 1 million random SERPs with featured snippets to identify correlations between pages that deserve those valuable search positions.

This data can be used by SEOs and website owners to create content that may have a better chance of being selected for a given snippet.

First, let’s look at some general statistics uncovered in the featured snippets study.

Selected snippet statistics

SEMRush and Brado looked at 160 million keywords on the desktop and 46.1 million keywords on the mobile to find out what percentage of the keywords generate featured snippets.

Here is a summary of their results:

  • 19% of the SERPs have snippets.
  • 7.3% of the SERPs have duplicate snippets.
  • 50% of a mobile screen is covered with a featured snippet.
  • 70% of the presented snippets are paragraphs (average 42 words / 249 characters).
  • 19.1% of the presented snippets are lists (average 6 elements / 44 words)
  • 6.3% of the presented snippets are tables (average 5 rows, 2 columns)
  • 4.6% of the presented snippets are videos (average 6m35s)
  • Sectors with the highest proportion of featured snippets are:
    • travel
    • Computers & Electronics
    • Art & entertainment
    • science


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Selected snippets are most often displayed for keywords with a specific search intent, e.g. B. Long-tail keywords

Of the inquiries that consist of 10 words, 55.5% have a presented excerpt. In comparison, only 4.3% of searches for individual keywords have a snippet. The percentage gradually increases as more words are added to a query and then decreases after 10 words.

Now let’s look at the common factors that content has in common with these featured snippet positions.

Optimizing content for Google recommended snippets

SEMRush breaks down the results of its study and identifies these data-driven methods of optimizing content to get featured snippets.


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Answer question-based questions

The study found that 29% of queries that trigger selected snippets start with a question-based word, e.g. B. “Why”, “Do” and “Can”. Questions that start with “why” trigger the most frequently presented snippets.

Of all the “why” queries examined, 77.6% returned a presented excerpt. Queries that start with “can” have the second largest percentage of featured snippets at 72.4%.

Date of your content

Google often returns dated content in featured snippets.

Of the different types of featured snippets, these are the percentages that content returned with a date:

Sales: 44%
List: 47%
Table: 19%
Video: 20%

Google also tends to keep featured snippets up to date. 70% of the articles in the presented excerpts were published 2-3 years ago at the latest.

However, older articles may still receive the featured snippet if they provide the best answer.

Use subfolders sparingly

According to the study, long URLs are less likely to get featured snippets. The “sweet spot” is a URL with 1-3 sub-folders.

Of all snippets included in the study, 37.3% link to a URL with 2 sub-folders. This is followed by 1 sub-folder with 21.9% and 3 sub-folders with 21.2%.

Subfolders are the parts of the domain listed after slashes. As an an example:

  • is the root domain. It has no sub-folders;
  • has a subfolder; and
  • has two sub-folders.

It is extremely unlikely that Google would return the homepage of a website at the specified snippet location, as only 0.4% are pointing to a domain with no sub-folders.


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Combine several questions in one article

SEMRush recommends creating a “featured snippet hub” that is accomplished by answering multiple questions in a single piece of content.

This is to increase the likelihood of earning multiple snippets with one URL.

I don’t want to mention, however, that SEMRush doesn’t provide any specific data to support its recommendation here.

It would be helpful to see what percentage of featured snippets are associated with a featured snippet hub.

It would also be interesting to know how many featured snippets were earned on average per featured snippet hub.

SEMRush provides the following statistics on featured snippet hubs:

  • 98% use HTTPS
  • The content length is more than 1,100 words or more
  • 66% use structured data
  • They contain an average of 14.5 heading tags
  • They have an average of 8 images (with ALT tags)


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For more information on the data points included in this article, see the full study here.