You may have heard the phrase “weak snippet” used lately in SEO circles. I heard it the first time from Rob Bucci at MozCon last year. Here is the slide deck. But before discussing “weak” snippets, it may help to quickly recap what a featured “snippet” is in the first place.

 

paragraph featured snippet

What is a Weak Snippet?

A weak snippet is a featured snippet in Google search results, which is formatted differently from the content on the URL referenced by the snippet. For example, if the content is supplied in a table and Google displays it as a bulleted list, that would be considered a weak snippet.

There are four formats in which featured snippets appear as answer boxes:

  1. Paragraph
  2. Numbered List
  3. Bulleted List
  4. Table

Different queries are best answered with specific formats. For example, a step-by-step process, which answers the question “How do you fix a bike tire?” is best answered with a numbered list. That is why Google has taken an instructables.com answer in paragraph format and changed it to display as a numbered list in the featured snippet for this query:

featured snipped in list from

Had instructables published the answer as a numbered list, this would be a strong snippet. However, despite the numbered “steps,” their answer is in paragraph format, making it potentially easy to “steal,” should a competitor supply a similarly-accurate answer in the correct format.

 

how featured snippet show up in graph form

 

Knowing which types of snippet formatting is best for specific types of queries will help you gain “strong snippets” that will not be so easily replaced. To learn more about matching queries to the best format, check out this post on GetStat.com.

Our own internal testing of this tactic has produced mixed results. TL;DR: It’s not as easy as you might think to steal a weak snippet. Have you had any luck with it?