We analyzed one million high-CPC SERPs to see who’s mowing over the competition and raking in the most featured snippets.


Over the past few weeks we’ve been serving up sizzling SERP insights from our latest whitepaper on featured snippets. Now we’re taking a slight detour to explore a fascinating aspect of snippets that we couldn’t quite fit in our whitepaper — the special relationship between sites and featured snippets.

When we ran our one million high-CPC queries through STAT, they generated 423,230 domains and 92,832 featured snippets. And those featured snippets contained 346,643 distinct URLs. So we had to narrow down our data.

We chose to focus our attention on sites that showed up on at least 50 SERPs out of the one million analyzed. We then narrowed down to subdomains to do our tallies, and only included the top 10 search results from each SERP.

We wanted to know:

  • Which sites appeared most often on high-CPC SERPs?
  • Which sites appeared inside the most featured snippets?
  • How frequently was a site’s SERP appearance within a featured snippet?
  • What can we learn from looking at the sites and URLs that appear most often in snippets?

And finally, we’ll leave you with two big takeaways to help you earn more featured snippets.

The most common SITES on high-CPC SERPs

Let’s start by looking at the sites that appeared most frequently when we pulled the STAT data for our one million high-CPC keywords.

We saw these domains the most in our high-CPC SERPs.
We saw these domains the most in our high-CPC SERPs.

High-CPC subdomains

We saw these domains the most in our high-CPC SERPs.

Share This

Since our data set is based on high-CPC queries (with an average CPC over $9.50), it’s natural that this list skews towards sites operating in high-CPC markets, like finance or health.

For example, bankrate.com and nerdwallet.com are well-established, large websites, but most likely they’re appearing on this top domains list because high-CPC keywords include lots of financial queries.

The sites with the most featured snippets

Next we’re taking a gander at the sites that appeared in the greatest total number of featured snippets.

These sites snagged the most featured snippets.
These sites snagged the most featured snippets.

Who gets the snippets?

These sites snagged the most featured snippets.

Share This

It’s a safe bet that Wikipedia would be the dominant recipient of featured snippets — they went on to earn 17.2 percent of all the featured snippets we encountered in our data set. This is likely because they answer a lot of the definition, meaning, and other general question searches that are proven to return a high number of snippets.

If you read our previous post, the most valuable featured snippets, you probably already guessed that the rest of the list is overwhelmingly biased towards finance, business, IT, and healthcare. These are also the topics and query themes that generated the most featured snippets.

Another noteworthy site on our list was YouTube. It’s fascinating to see YouTube video descriptions in a decent number of featured snippets, which means that you don’t necessarily have to rely on long-form content to earn snippet placement.

Example of a featured snippet pulling a Youtube video description for the query [audi magnetic ride]
Example of a featured snippet pulling a Youtube video description for the query [audi magnetic ride]

Long-form content not required

Example of a featured snippet pulling a Youtube video description for the query [audi magnetic ride]

Share This

The domains with high featured snippet frequency

Now here’s where things get really interesting. During our analysis, we stumbled across a handful of featured snippet superstars — sites that earned a featured snippet up to 30 percent of the time that they appeared on a high-CPC SERP.

In order to put this into perspective and up the drama factor, let’s look at how these sites stand apart from the heavy hitters in our first two charts.

For example, en.wikipedia.org appeared on a SERP a grand total of 259,510 times and earned a whopping 15,950 featured snippets. When compared to www.crunchybetty.com in the chart below, who had 216 SERP appearances and earned 66 featured snippets, it’s clear who dominated; but when we look at how frequently their domain’s SERP appearance is actually within a featured snippet — well gosh darn, it’s a whole new ballgame.

Dividing the total number of featured snippets earned by the total number of SERP appearances, we find that en.wikipedia.org only appeared in snippets 6.15 percent of the time, whereas www.crunchybetty.com showed up on the SERP in 30.56 percent of featured snippets. (Go, Betty, go!)

Even though good ol’ Betty isn’t dominating across the board, when it comes to snagging those featured snippets, they dominate their SERP appearances.

So who are the rest of these unicorns?

These folks are killing it when it comes to snagging featured snippets.
These folks are killing it when it comes to snagging featured snippets.

Meet the unicorns

These folks are killing it when it comes to snagging featured snippets.

Share This

As you can see, 13 of these top 20 sites made their way onto the list as a result of a single, unique URL that earns a featured snippet on a large variety of queries. Nonetheless, with some of these sites visible for thousands of total keywords in our data set, it’s still impressive to see 15–30 percent of their SERP presence earning a snippet placement.

One of the most noteworthy results on the list above is also the largest recipient of featured snippets: windows.microsoft.com. The Windows site earned a total of 749 featured snippets spread across 185 different URLs.

In the 25 years since Microsoft.com registered as a domain, they’ve accumulated more experience producing user support content for the web than just about any other company in existence. The extensive number of featured snippets they’re earning is a byproduct of that.

So the real lesson here for companies is to invest in your customer support content as a branded asset. It likely is getting searched and — provided it’s indexed — showing up on SERPs for current and prospective customers, so make sure it’s just as polished as your other web pages.

The URLs that earned the most featured snippets

Finally, we looked at the exact URL strings in our data set that earned the most featured snippets.

With 231 different queries showing a featured snippet for websitesetup.org, they were the clear winner and also the only homepage in our top 20 URLs. So what can they and the other 19 URLs tell us?

The featured snippet-winning URLs
The featured snippet-winning URLs

The featured snippet-winning URLs

Most have a clear question that they answer.

Share This

It appears that most of these pages answer a clear question, and the various ways those questions can be phrased is likely to result in similar featured snippets.

But while this is true for the most part, it is possible for a URL to earn featured snippets for multiple areas on a single page. The third result on our list, www.allaboutvision.com/visionsurgery/cost.htm, earns a featured snippet on [cost of lasik eye surgery in pa] and [cheapest laser eye surgery] with the snippets below:

AllAboutMedia.com earns multiple snippets for a single URL
AllAboutMedia.com earns multiple snippets for a single URL

AllAboutMedia.com earns multiple snippets for a single URL

Here’s an example of a snippet for the keyword [cost of lasik eye surgery in pa]

Share This

Here’s an example of a snippet for the keyword [cheapest laser eye surgery] that points to the same URL.
Here’s an example of a snippet for the keyword [cheapest laser eye surgery] that points to the same URL.

Another featured snippet

Here’s an example of a snippet for the keyword [cheapest laser eye surgery] that points to the same URL.

Share This

 

The only difference in these two examples is the bolded text, meaning that Google likely identifies the featured snippet text as a good fit for the query and then attempts to bold the most relevant portion of the text.

The same page also earned a snippet for [does health insurance cover lasik] with the following:

Another snippet pointing to the same URL as the above, but this is for the query [does health insurance cover lasik].
Another snippet pointing to the same URL as the above, but this is for the query [does health insurance cover lasik].

And snippet number three!

Another snippet pointing to the same URL as the above, but this is for the query [does health insurance cover lasik].

Share This

WRAPPING IT UP: Two big insights to help you earn more featured snippets

1. A single web page can draw multiple featured snippet opportunities

Look for high-volume keywords in your marketplace that produce featured snippets. There’s a good chance that those keywords have lots of long tail variations that can earn snippets, too. Create a well-optimized, dedicated page on your site to target that topic if you don’t already have one.

2. Put your customer support content to work!

Support-related URLs made up of four of the top 100 sites earning featured snippets in our analysis. Make sure you follow the same suggestions with your support content that we recommend in our whitepaper for the rest of your website, and track the performance of support content in your analytics to find high-traffic support pages that can be optimized.

Ready to dig even deeper?

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 on SERPs, whether you’re looking internationally or locally, at desktop or mobile, or for even more insight. Curious? Say hello and request a demo.