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Google publishes comprehensive guide to featured snippets

Learn more about how Google’s featured work, the variations and some of the challenges Google faces with these snippets.

Google publishes comprehensive guide to featured snippets

Google has published one of the most comprehensive explanations yet of their featured snippets in a post on the search blog. Featured snippets, in short, are the quick direct answers you see at the top of the Google search results page that appear in response to some search queries.

In this blog post, Google explains what featured snippets are, the various user interfaces and treatments you can get from these featured snippets and how they interact with desktop, mobile and voice search results. Google says featured snippets are important for mobile search and with voice-activated digital assistants. Google said “in these cases, the traditional ’10 blue links’ format doesn’t work as well, making featured snippets an especially useful format.”

Google added that they will “continue to show regular listings in response to searches along with featured snippets.” That is “because 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,” Google added.

Here are some of the screen shots of normal featured snippets that Google may show to searchers on desktop or mobile:

In addition, those suggested video clips, which jump directly into a video result, are also a form of featured snippets. Google said they “recently launched” this experience, but it has been live for at least the past several months:

Those who use Google Assistant or Google Home devices can access their full search results later, when they get to their mobile phone, within the Google Home app.

In the post, Google explains that their featured snippets are not perfect — acknowledging cases of inaccurate or insensitive information, people trying to vandalize the results and spam issues. Google admits they have more work to do and will continue to improve these results over time. As evidence, Google points to their voice quality raters guidelines and those efforts to improve the quality of those results.

Google shared how they may explore showing more featured snippet results to offer more diversity, in the form of adding a “more results” link under a featured snippet:

Or featured snippet tags, to refine the query:

Or showing more options to your question with multiple featured snippet boxes right away in the search results:

“There are often legitimate diverse perspectives offered by publishers, and we want to provide users visibility and access into those perspectives from multiple sources,” said Matthew Gray, a Google software engineer.

We’ve covered time and time again how featured snippets sometimes get it wrong.

Google asks that you submit feedback using the “Feedback” link found within the featured snippets so that the company can continue to make improvements over time.

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