Have you ever wondered how to make the most of Google’s Featured Snippets? Let us give you a quick introduction.
It’s likely that you’ve noticed that if you ask a question in Google Search, that there’s a block that often appears at the top of the search results page. Google refers to these blocks as featured snippets. Typically, these blocks include summaries of answers to your questions that have been extracted from relevant web pages.
Unlike Google’s regular web listings, these summaries, called snippets, come first. They are found at the top of the results page because they are seen as the most relevant or informative page for your search query. Hence, the name snippet. Aside from a summary, a block will include a link to the page, the page title, and the URL.
Why Show Featured Snippets?
In a blog post written by Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search at Google, he wrote that featured snippets are being displayed in searches because they believe that its format can help make relevant answers more discoverable. Also, snippets are meant to be helpful and effective when making mobile and voice searches.
How do Featured Snippets Enhance Mobile and Voice Search Experiences?
In 2010, Google announced that it would be shifting to a mobile-first culture, following the birth of mobile micro-moments. This is a term used to describe the points in time when users turn to mobile devices when they want to make searches, go somewhere, or make online purchases.
These micro-moments, like searches over debates in bars, being lost in a foreign city or just wondering how to patch a pair of jeans are becoming one of the most popular uses for Google’s search engine.
This development, along with the advent of voice-activated digital assistants, has pushed Google engineers to enhance mobile and voice search experiences further than ever.
Because mobile devices have limited viewing functionalities, Google deemed that the conventional “10 blue links” format is not efficient when being viewed on smartphones and small devices. As a solution, they have created featured snippets; a new function that makes it easier than ever to find the information you need.
Of course, featured snippets are still being shown alongside regular listings. This is because the snippets were not created to be the only source of information in Google Search.
“featured snippets aren’t meant as a sole source of information. They’re part of an overall set of results we provide, giving people information from a wide range of sources,” Sullivan explained.
Increasing Traffic Through Featured Snippets
Being featured on these snippets is similar to being the top ranking page on a conventional search result. A page or site will be given a featured snippet if Google sees it as the most informative or relevant answer to a user’s query.
To make the most of this, sites should research the most common search terms related to their subject or niche and build their content around these terms.
Their content should also provide a clear and concise answer to this query in order to be prioritized over other more dense or wordy sites. A good way to do this is through bullet points, brief definitions, or concise sentences.
When featured snippets were introduced in 2014, publishers became concerned that it would affect their traffic. Back then, website owners were worried by the idea that because snippets would show summarized answers to queries, people would no longer be interested in visiting the source sites.
However, Google’s featured snippets produced the opposite results and started driving traffic to websites. This, according to Sullivan, is because they “cite the source page in the spoken result and provide a link to the page within the Google Home app, so people can click and learn more.”
The Google executive also pointed out that featured snippets are designed to support the source sites that made the snippets possible. That’s why they are always being taken into account when Google engineers need to update this search feature.
Improving Featured Snippets
Despite the criticism gained by Google’s featured snippets for allegedly showing controversial and fake news results, Sullivan said that they are doubling their efforts to make the feature better.
Just recently, Google’s team launched an effort to update their Search Quality Rater Guidelines and provide raters with more low-quality web page samples. These low-quality web pages were specifically inserted to be flagged to help Google improve their approach to this feature.
This would include “misleading information, unexpected offensive results, hoaxes, and unsupported conspiracy theories.” As per Sullivan, this has helped them filter results that are prone to low-quality content and prevented them from not featuring them at all.
Google is also trying to find a way to communicate better when their featured snippets are only showing near-matches. This happens when the search algorithm is not confident enough to show specific featured snippets for queries.
“Showing a near-match may seem odd at first glance, but we know in such cases that people often explore the source of a featured snippet and discover what they’re looking for,” Sullivan explained.
The Google exec also said that they would soon release a new format that is designed to help people better locate information through multiple featured snippets that are related to their queries. For the meantime, Google is encouraging everyone to provide feedback in cases when a featured snippet requires a review.