Google is regarded as an online encyclopedia. You ask anything and Google is probably going to provide you with the right answer. It is the most widely used search engine all over the world and conducts approximately 3.5 searches per day. Therefore, it is not surprising to know that Google is working hard constantly to provide the best information to its users based on the search intent. These efforts seem to have paid off because Google has gotten much better at resolving queries and answering questions, especially after it launched ‘featured snippets’ for publishers and users alike. What are featured snippets?
In simple terms, featured snippets are the zeroth search results that you see at the top of the Google search engine result page (SERP) and it is displayed before the first search result. What does this snippet showcase? Basically, in its desire to provide the most relevant information to the user, Google takes a snippet of information of the most relevant webpage and then displays it at the top to provide answers efficiently and quickly. Over the years, these featured snippets have evolved considerably and will continue to do so, which can have an impact on the search engine optimization efforts of publishers and web pages alike.
In order to ensure that best results are displayed, Google has frequently updated its algorithm. Therefore, it recently reintroduced its featured snippet for enhancing the search experience of the users and making it easier for them to access information from the best sources. According to Google, featured snippets are used in search because this format helps people in finding what they are after easily. Not only is the description helpful, but they can also open the link to find out more. This is particularly useful for those who are doing a voice search or using their mobile.
Google’s reintroduction also disclosed that these featured snippets are not just reserved for written content because they have also launched video featured snippets. In fact, video snippets are very useful as they don’t require you to watch the entire video; they simply jump to the part of the video that contains the answer to your query. Here are some other ways that featured snippets can help:
Featured snippets are useful for mobile and voice search
Mobile search has managed to surpass desktop search due to the use of smartphones all over the world. In addition, there has also been a growth in digital voice-activated assistants due to which more and more people are conducting voice queries. In such situations, the traditional format is not as useful whereas featured snippets can help. Regular listings are also shown because the snippets are not meant to be the primary source of information. They are just part of the overall results in order to provide people information from different sources.
Featured snippets can help in learning more
When featured snippets were first introduced in 2014, there were some concerns that publishers would lose traffic because people would find the information through the snippet and wouldn’t bother visiting the website. However, it didn’t take long to become obvious that featured snippets were actually helpful in boosting traffic because people click on these snippets to learn more. If the useful and interesting information is provided, the reader will automatically want to know more. As for the spoken snippets, the source page is cited in the spoken results and a link to the page is provided within the Google Home app to help people in learning more.
Google is working to Improve Featured Snippet More
Google has stated that they are working on improving the featured snippets even more. A huge majority works well and the snippets have been handy for mobile and voice searches, but there have been some blunders as the snippets continue to evolve and grow. In some instances, the authoritativeness of the results was not accurately measured and low-quality web pages were included in featured snippets. They comprised of misleading information, hoaxes, offensive results, and detailed unsupported conspiracy theories.
As a result, Google has updated its Search Quality Rater guidelines through which their system can identify when a search leads to low-quality results. If this happens, a featured snippet is not shown. Even if it has good content, the results may still not show the snippet because it may not be relevant to the query or may not appear to respond to it at all.
Another improvement that Google disclosed was for providing near-matches in featured snippets that can also be helpful. This means that they will display not exactly what you searched for, but close enough that it can lead you to the information you need.
At first glance, it may seem odd that a near-match answer is being shown, but it is a fact that in these cases, people are most likely going to check out the source of the featured snippet and end up finding what they were after in the first place. Google stated that they are considering using a format that they currently employ in the search. When you search for something and there is no suitable answer, the search engine states that it is showing results for a query along the same lines. The same can be done for the near-match featured snippets.
More than One Featured Snippet
Furthermore, another format that should be expected soon is the introduction of more than one featured snippet. Sometimes, there are queries that have more than a single right answer. This is why a recent feature has been introduced that can be used for interactively choosing a featured snippet according to your situation. Using multiple featured snippets can be an advantage in situations where asking about the same thing in different ways can actually give you contradictory information. This usually happens because the system automatically favors web pages that are aligned strongly with the query. For instance, if you ask if something is bad, the result will show you a snippet of a link that agrees with you and the same happens when you ask if something is good.
Google asserted that they were looking for ways to resolve this challenge and multiple responses as featured snippets would be helpful here.