The UK’s Biggest Featured Snippets

Stuart Shaw 11 months ago

Bigger isn’t always better, however, in the case of these search terms you really wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to rank in #0 - the coveted featured snippet spot.  So we’ve teamed up with ahrefs to provide some unique insights into the largest featured snippets from Google UK.

Disclaimer: Before we get started it’s important to note that featured snippets are often volatile and occasionally the features appear and disappear for certain searches altogether. All data is correct at the time of posting - I make no excuses for Google changing its mind!

UK top chart

Below are the largest keywords by gross search volume in the UK which trigger a featured snippet or answer box. I’ve done you the service of removing any common words we mixed up in the database such as ‘to’ and ‘for’ which trigger dictionary/Wikipedia entries.

  • Youtube to mp3
  • Lottery results
  • Horse racing results
  • Football scores
  • Cheap holidays
  • Minimum wage
  • Last minute holidays
  • Council tax
  • Sim only deals
  • Broadband deals
  • Child benefit

A look into the pages themselves

Snippets are far from an exact science. You would hope that, given the scale and reach of these keywords, there is some kind of manual review in place from Google; however, as the below examples show - sometimes it’s just down to luck.

YouTube to MP3

Search Volume: 2,100,000
Clicks per Search: 1.55
Total Clicks: 3,291,070
Return Rate: 3.38

youtube to mp3 snippet

A friend of mine can still remember utilising Napster and Morpheus to ‘acquire’ music that otherwise would have made a sizeable dent in their pocket money. It’s interesting to see such activity now takes places in a much more public manner with the primary use of some sites being the download of “ full album” videos.

The term has been steadily declining in popularity - perhaps due to the rise of Spotify or (being cynical) because VPNs are becoming more and more accessible…

VPN popularity

Google has picked apart the page drawing on elements from separate divisions, to create the featured snippet, as we see it on both mobile and desktop. The image has been selected from a different source (as is often the case), creating a simple and well-named image (with accompanying alt text) could help the site who have provided the content for the featured snippet with generating additional traffic - however, the percentage of traffic driven by the image vs the Meta Title/Listing isn’t an easy to obtain value. That being said, when dealing with keywords of this size, the effort is likely worth it.

Cheap Holidays

Search Volume: 296,000
Clicks per Search: 1.15
Total Clicks: 340,601
Return Rate: 1.81

cheap holidays snippet

This featured snippet is a good example of where an easy-to-crawl html structure has naturally produced a very detailed featured result. The below location cards are all formatted in a logical and cascading manner which Google has been able to read.

cheap holidays grid picture

Historically 'Cheap holidays' has always been a search term that contained users at almost every stage of the funnel. It’s interesting to see the trend for this term has dropped year after year in the UK, according to Google Trends.

cheap holiday trends graph

These drops correlate with an increase in long-tail location-based searches, suggesting users are far more informed about where they wish to travel to and have less need to perform broad and generic searches. This is great news for smaller/niche sites as their ultra-focused approach to (let’s say) Barcelona will be paying dividends.

In addition to this, the trend we’re seeing may suggest people are instead utilising other platforms to inform their choices with regards to travel with Instagram and Pinterest coming to mind for those who prefer to search ‘visually’.

Last Minute Holidays

Search Volume: 284,000
Clicks per Search: 1.26
Total Clicks: 358,148
Return Rate: 1.59

last minute holidays snippet

This is a clear example of where Google has dropped the ball slightly, the snippet contains a list of items pulled from the site’s navigation. It has no real bearing on ‘last minute’ holidays. It can be frustrating to rank against such a flaw in the system, however, the ‘Feedback’ function is there for that very reason.

popular in Europe snippet

Whilst unhelpful to the user, this featured snippet really shows Google’s occasional adherence to the HTML structure.

html of last minute holidays snippet

You can see that list elements have been used to produce columns, with ahref links being styled with CSS to break lines. Comparing this against the snippet, it’s clear that each bullet point corresponds to a navigation column with the location names getting bundled together. Given the clear preference for listed content any attempts to rank in #0 should consider such a structure in their approach.

seasonality of last minute holidays search

'Last minute holidays' has consistently been the second-largest (location generic) search term within the travel industry, interestingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, we see the largest peaks for this keyword bang in the middle of school holidays.

Minimum Wage

Search Volume: 293,000
Clicks per Search: 0.52
Total Clicks: 152,212
Return Rate: 1.38

minimum wage snippet

The minimum wage (as a term) was scrapped by the Government in April 2016 with language moving towards a NLW or national living wage, despite this, most workers still refer to it as ‘minimum wage’. The clicks per search are so low due to the query being a single figure. However, the featured snippet doesn’t do a great job at answering the query in a comprehensive manner (for all ages).

If I were to amend this article, I’d perhaps look at leveraging a more simple version of the table currently in use, or to provide a point of difference attempt to use bullet points to illustrate the April 2019 values.

minimum wage table for snippet

The change in NLW around April appears to have affected the snippet for 'national living wage' too, with this snippet also focusing on the ~5% increase, instead of simply servicing the search intent (giving users the values). Both graphics, while pleasant, aren’t suitable for data visualisation at such a small scale.

national living wage snippet

Despite the push for the 'national living wage' (red) to become the adopted term, it is dwarfed by the common use of 'minimum wage' (blue) with the latter spiking even when legislation is being made to the former!

minimum wage trend graph

Sim Only Deals

Search Volume: 224,000
Clicks per Search: 1.22
Total Clicks: 273,538
Return Rate: 1.61

sim only deals snippet

Here we have our first entry from one of the large comparison sites. The simple paragraph has come through for MoneySuperMarket occupying a lucrative #0 for one of the largest keywords in the mobile phone sector.

The (bolded) paragraph right under an appropriate H2 is a simple but often effective strategy and one which uSwitch - who currently rank in #1, could quickly roll out. It’s easy to look at rank tracking tools and assume that #1 is as good as it gets. However, the presence of MSM’s snippet is likely causing a dent in its CTR.

uswitch sim only deals page

It was great to see uSwitch making the most of its listing in other areas. It was one of the first large UK sites to rollout FAQ schema and the result is a clear increase in space for its top spot in the SERPs, making #2 feel more like #3!

Uswitch snippet structure

Sim only deals saw a boom throughout 2017 as devices began to last longer than their contracts (or just about) and the market opened up with data packages becoming more and more aggressive.

sim only deals trend graph

People Also Ask boxes were just as common!

Attempting to rank in a strong enough position to be considered for these terms would be incredibly challenging for new sites. Across the top 100 keywords, we found there was an average keyword difficulty of 40. Therefore it would be easier to target the People Also Ask boxes that frequently crop up.

people also ask boxes

Across these snippet keywords, we found 95% also featured PAA in the SERPs. Many of these questions have reasonable traffic in and of themselves - with additional long-tail searches and content relevancy all helping to improve your position within your market.

Summary of the biggest featured snippets

It’s clear since Google started experimenting with featured snippets and quick answers, back in 2013, and even ventured into single result searches, that they now serve an important purpose, both for information and commercially. CTR models suggest the number of people clicking on snippets is increasing as people come to trust the result more and more.

According to ahref’s database, there are more than 4,000 keywords that trigger snippets with search volumes in excess of 10,000. Yes, some are branded, some are nonsense but the importance of capturing them for your brand cannot be understated - especially if you’re struggling to punch through 2nd or 3rd.

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