How common are featured snippets on commercial SERPs? We analyzed a mountain of high-CPC SERP data to help you earn more snippets for your site.
When tracking millions of SERPs every day, we’re pretty quick to spot trends and changes. Without a doubt, one of the biggest trends we’ve seen over the past two years is the increase in featured snippets and knowledge-graph-driven answer box results taking over the first organic position.
To find out just how common featured snippets are and identify factors that can help you take advantage of the trend, we dove headfirst into the data.
In early 2016, we analyzed one million high-CPC search queries, over 92,000 featured snippet queries, and millions of rows of SERP data to bring you our latest whitepaper. Below is just a peek at some of our key findings — you’ll want to download the entire whitepaper for our full analysis.Whitepaper(PDF)
(For our fellow data nerds: we open-sourced a large chunk of the information we collected during the research process. If you’re the type of SEO that wants to get your hands on millions of rows of SERP data for nearly a million high-CPC queries and heaps of featured snippet data, then you should head over to our data release blog post!)
Let’s jump right in and look at a few of our key findings.
1. Featured snippets are common on commercial SERPs
Of the 999,868 SERPs inspected, we found a featured snippet result on 92,832 — that’s 9.28 percent of SERPs with featured snippets.
2. Featured snippets never overlap with three-pack places results
We observed three-pack places results on 13.2 percent of all SERPs, yet there was zero overlap between local results and featured snippets.
3. There are three types of featured snippets
All of the featured snippets we encountered fell into one of three categories: paragraph, list (numbered and bulleted), or table snippets.
Paragraph snippets were most common, showing up in 82 percent of featured snippets. List snippets appeared in 10.8 percent, and table snippets in 7.3 percent. All three occasionally showed images, but the formats never overlapped one another.
4. Featured snippets and “people also ask” appear to be connected
While people also ask (PAA) results only show up in 22 percent of featured snippet queries, they appear to be related. In 23 percent of the SERPs with both, the first PAA answer was identical to the featured snippet answer.
5. More than 1,500 queries had annual traffic of US$1M+
Using the formula of [CPC x Annual Search Traffic], we measured the approximate “SERP value” for all of the featured snippet queries encountered.
With an average CPC of US$49.10 and 3,600 searches per month, we calculate an estimated annual SERP value of US$2,121,120 for the query [virtual desktop]. This featured snippet has the opportunity to generate a substantial amount of high-value traffic for vrdesktop.net.
6. Featured snippet URLs often feature <ol> and <table>
We looked at three specific pieces of on-page markup to see how they correspond with featured snippets:
<ul>. (To account for typical code strings like
<ol class="list">, we dropped the closing angle bracket from our search. So
<ol, and so on.)
<ul> tag showed up at a similar rate on both featured snippet and regular search results,
<table> tags showed up at much greater frequencies. We observed
<table> markup 21.8 percent more often on featured snippet URLs than on regular search results, and
<ol> markup was 41.6 percent more common.
7. Featured snippet URLs in our study are less likely to utilize Schema.org
One surprising takeaway from our study was that Schema.org markup is actually less common on featured snippet URLs than it is on regular search results. We noted that the code snippet of
itemtype=”http://schema.org/ appeared on 15.7 percent of featured snippet URLs, but saw the same markup on 19.6 percent of regular search result URLs. Wikipedia was the number one domain for featured snippets in our data set and they don’t use Schema.org, which may have skewed our results here.
8. Financial queries generate more featured snippets
We analyzed a number of different query types, but the biggest group of keyword modifiers that generated featured snippets were financial in nature.
Ready to learn more?
These are just a few findings from our study. Download the full whitepaper to learn which query types generate featured snippets most often, which on-page and off-site factors appear to affect featured snippets, and how you can earn more featured snippets for your website.Whitepaper(PDF)
Search is complex. So your SERP tracking should be comprehensive. That’s why we do featured snippet and knowledge graph tracking in SERPs, whether you’re looking internationally or locally, at desktop or mobile, or for even more. Curious? Say hello and request a demo.