Featured snippets improve the search experience for users, especially in a world where users are increasingly using mobile and voice for their search. Instead of clicking through countless links, the answer will be provided at the top of the search results page. One issue, however, if you thought it was hard enough ranking on the first page, it’s even harder to earn a snippet. But put in some hard work, and you’ll earn position 0 in no time. SEM Rush analyzed 1.3 million snippets; here’s a summary of it’s findings. 

PS: Need a refresher on what a featured snippet is? Read our blog here.

What do top performers have in common?

From SEM Rush’s research, they learned some common factors found among the snippets.

Headers and subheaders make it easier to read…and rank.

Average number of headers and subheaders: 22

The headers and subheaders make the piece easier to scan, which makes it friendlier to the user; this means it increases the likelihood that Google will pick your article for the snippet.

Write like a middle-schooler.

Average Flesch-Kincaid reading level: 7th grade

Making your content easy-to-read is important if you want to rank.

Reference others.

Average number of external links: 33

Cite your sources – it gives you more credibility.

Think visual.

Average number of images with ALT text: 12

It helps break up the content, making it a more entertaining and visually appealing read.

Remember security.

Secure URLs (HTTPS) percentage: 83%

Like mobile (see below), Google is penalizing search ranking for non-secure websites. So secure your URL with an SSL certificate and proper redirects to HTPS if you want a chance.

The mobile experience is important.

Average Google Mobile-Friendly and Mobile-Usability Scores: 95.

Mobile optimizations seems to be a simple prerequisite for anything search-related these days, so here’s another reminder.

Consider the Format

There are 4 potential formats for a featured snippet: paragraph, list, table, and image. Here’s how to optimize for each format.


Keep your paragraphs short and sweet: 40-60 words should be the optimal length; the average word count is 44 words.

Format Paragraph

Source: SEMrush


Average items for a list is 5 and the max is 8. Average words per item is 6 and max is 52. Your best bet is to create a list with more than the max items (8) or with more the max words per item (52). This way, the list will be truncated, and users will be more likely to click to see more.

Format List

Source: SEMrush


The average number of rows for a table is 3.7 and the max is 5. Columns? Average is 2.6 and max is 7. Like you do with lists, do more rows and columns than the respective maximums so that the truncation will convince readers to view your site.

Format Table

Source: SEMrush


For your image, it seems that photos that are slightly wider than they are long perform better. Keep the averages and maximums shown below in mind when deciding your photo size.

Format Images

Source: SEMrush

Rank Matters, But It’s Not Everything

If you look at the table below, you’ll see that your ranking plays a major role in whether or not your content becomes a snippet, however, remember that as long as you’re in the top 10, you have some shot at earning the snippet. Still, try to aim for the top 5; 94% of the snippets are taken from there.

Featured Snippet Breakdown

Source: SEMrush

URL Architecture

Increase the likelihood that you’ll end up in the top spot. The right URL can rank for many keywords, so architect your URL wisely. Follow this example from SEMrush, step-by-step.

Example topic: Pregnancy – https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/early-symptoms-timeline

  1. Start off with the broadest structure of your topics, such as:




  1. Get more specific with your folder structure:




  1. Create highly themed pieces of content that can link to similar topics on your site, such as:




  1. Anchor menus are also used for better user experience on mobile due to the large size of the content.
  2. This URL ranks for over 8,000 keywords because of how it is constructed, but also how it is connected within a smart overall architecture.
  3. Healthline ranks for over 3 million featured snippets, so they are a great example to emulate.
  4. Look through the Google Sheet and explore how other top-performing hubs are setting up their architecture.

So Many Snippets to Earn, So Little Time

Don’t let your competitors have all the fun – get to work on earning those featured snippets. Keep in mind the averages in a number of categories when creating any content that you seek to rank for.

Want to learn more about SEMrush’s findings? Read here.

Want to refresh your memory on featured snippets? Read our blog here.