Featured Snippet


Featured snippets are search results in the organic Google search that are intended to provide a direct response to users' search queries. They are displayed prominently above the organic search hits, at "Position 0". This expands Google's ability to provide users with a fast and satisfying search result. These special snippets are automatically compiled by Google from content on the landing page and not from meta data. Structured data can help Google display highlighted search results. There is no guarantee that your own page will be used for featured snippets.

General information on the topic[edit]

In recent years, Google has become better at satisfying users' search intentions. Fundamental adaptations of algorithms such as the Hummingbird Update or RankBrain have contributed to this. Today the simple search engine has become a kind of "answer engine" that can generate a very precise answer to simple questions. At the same time, voice search plays an increasingly important role in search engines. It is an elementary component of mobile search as well as of digital assistants such as Google Home.

For this reason, desktop search, i.e. traditional web search, is also adapting to this trend. Featured snippets are a possible solution.

How they work[edit]

When a user asks Google a specific question about a term definition or fact, the search engine tries to deliver a concrete, concise answer with a featured snippet. For this, Google uses text elements or images from indexed websites. The "snippet box" is then generated from text modules and image material, in some cases also with videos.

There is no special data markup for featured snippets, but the technical and content-related prerequisites for the transfer of content elements can be created. Google gives a clear answer to the question of whether websites are marked in a special way:

"You can't. Google programmatically determines that a page contains a likely answer to the user's question, and displays the result as a featured snippet."[1]

However, you can deactivate highlighted snippets with the line:

<meta name="googlebot" content="nosnippet">

Google will then remove all rich snippets created with content from this page from the search results.

Forms of Featured Snippets[edit]

Google displays three different variants of featured snippets:

  • Snippets in text form: Google extracts relevant text elements from web pages. These are often enriched with images that do not have to come from the same page.
  • Video snippets: If there is a unique answer to the search query in the form of a video, Google uses clips from YouTube or from its own video search to display them as featured snippets.
  • Table snippets: Here, tables or lists are copied from the target page. These do not necessarily have to be marked.

In February 2018, Google announced in its own blog that featured snippets would consist of several parts in order to offer users an even better search experience[2].

Featured Snippets vs. One Box[edit]

Highlighted snippets are not to be confused with the One Box. In it, Google lists all relevant information about famous personalities or companies. Google obtains the data, for example, from Wikipedia or from its own products such as Google MyBusiness.

Featured Snippet vs. Knowledge graph[edit]

The Google Knowledge Graph was introduced with the Hummingbird update. This was relevant mostly for artists and their works, and sights in cities. It also compiles information about famous personalities. While the Featured Snippet consists of text and images obtained from various websites, the data for the Knowledge Graph comes mainly from central databases.

Rich Snippets vs. Featured Snippets[edit]

While featured snippets consist of a search result above the organic search results, rich snippets are traditional organic search hits that are enriched with structured data. These can be ratings, prices or even dates of events.

Featured Snippets vs. Answer Boxes[edit]

The so-called "Answer Boxes" are mainly available in the English Google search. These boxes help users with concrete questions. The answers can be opened more and more to narrow down the facts. Answer boxes are sometimes combined with featured snippets. In the USA there are also Answer Boxes on health issues.

Tips for displaying highlighted snippets[edit]

There is no guarantee that your website content will be used for featured snippets. However, there are certain requirements that will make it more likely that Google will use your website content for the featured snippet.

  • Top rankings: Your website will only be used as a featured snippet if it is on the first page of the Google Search results. Google usually uses content from the top 5 organic search hits. Therefore, a good OnPage and OffPage optimization is an important prerequisite for featured snippets.
  • Deliver the best answers: If you provide precise answers to frequently asked questions, you increase the chance of getting the featured snippet. The best answers should not be longer than 50 words. There are also many tools you can use for determining questions that users often ask.
  • Lists and tables: Lists and tables tagged with markup have a very good chance of being used for featured snippets.

Benefits for search engine optimization[edit]

A big advantage of featured snippets is that a website can achieve higher visibility and therefore more traffic.

If you look at search engine optimization in a broader sense, Featured Snippets can also provide answers via the digital assistant Google Home.[3]

The actual benefit of featured snippets for search engine optimization cannot be accurately estimated. Probably, the increased visibility of web content as a highlighted search result can lead to a higher trust in the contents on the part of the users. This trust could pay off if the own website is not listed in the first position in the SERPs, but the user still decides on the search result because they have see the site as a reliable source of information.

References[edit]

  1. Featured Snippets in search support.google.com Accessed on March 18, 2018
  2. Providing more comprehensive results to your questions in Search blog.google Accessed on March 18, 2018
  3. Google Home responding with featured snippets searchengineland.com Accessed on March 18, 2018

Weblinks[edit]