Google Featured Snippets All you need to know
In addition to organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful, Google has to reduce the number of steps between information and the user. Featured snippets enable users to learn what they are looking for while staying on the search engine results pages (SERPs) itself. While there are different ways leveraged by Google to connect the user with relevant information, in this blog post, we will discuss the – featured snippets (also known as Google answer box).
Table of Contents
- What are Featured Rich Snippets?
- Factors Influencing Webpage Content in Featured Snippets
- Impact of Google Search Algorithms on Featured Snippets
- Examples of Information Presented in Featured Snippets
- Practical Ways to Include Webpage Content in Featured Snippets
- How to Stop Ranking Webpage Content in Featured Snippets?
What are Featured Rich Snippets?
The featured snippets (or answer box) is a section above the organic results section. The featured snippet is made up of four different fields. The four core fields are – information from a relevant webpage, link to the relevant webpage, the page title, and finally, the URL of the website. The presentation of the information can vary as per the query of the user. For instance, the information presented can be in four different forms, such as a paragraph, bullet list, video, and a table.
Factors Influencing Webpage Content in Featured Snippets
There is no official way to make the content of a webpage appear on featured snippets. Luckily, there are guidelines that a webmaster can follow to improve the chances of the content appearing on featured snippets.
Ideally, the website content should adhere to two main lists of policies and guidelines. In addition to the policies and guidelines, one should also invest time to know more about Google search algorithms.
The two lists are – Official Policies for Featured Snippets and Google Webmaster Guidelines:
- Official Policies for Featured Snippets – As featured snippets don’t require a user to visit any website, therefore, the policies are written keeping a general user in mind. For instance, a web page having information that qualifies as sexually explicit, hateful, violent, dangerous, and contradicting may never get selected for the featured snippets. It is important to elaborate on the last point – contradicting. The information presented on a webpage should not contradict the related facts that are published on authoritative websites.
- Google Webmaster Guidelines – The webmaster guidelines pushes the website content to be more user friendly. For instance, the basic principles behind the webmaster guidelines are – content should not be created for search engines, content should not deceive users (clickbait and more), one should stay away from excessive use of SEO practices to improve the ranking and continue to add more value for the readers of content. Although, adherence to webmasters guidelines improves the chances of getting information on a webpage in featured snippets but is not primarily responsible.
Impact of Google Search Algorithms on Featured Snippets
Google search algorithms play a central role to decide which information gets selected to be displayed on the featured snippets. Due to the vastness of information, Google search algorithms also depend on feedback or reports from users. In order to understand the elements, a web page has to inculcate in its content, to improve the chances of appearing in the featured snippets, here are some points:
- Use of Relevant Terms – Google has many algorithms and systems in place. Such algorithms and systems help Google to understand the correct meaning of a string shared by a user. The two most important algorithms and systems are – freshness and synonyms, respectively.
When a user enters a string, the synonym system comes into action and modifies certain words in a string to enable the natural language system to understand the meaning of a user’s query. Hence, we can derive a conclusion that information on a webpage should be written in such a way that makes relevant use of synonyms.
- Go Beyond Keywords – The most basic signal that Google uses is the use of relevant keywords. For featured snippets, the use of relevant keywords is important as well. Furthermore, search algorithms go beyond simple keyword matching and also look for related keywords.
For example, to check the relevance of a webpage where information on cotton is present, the search algorithms may also look for relevant information such as – products made from the cotton, growth process of cotton, and more. Other content types that search algorithms may look for are – images, videos, lists, tabular data, and more.
- Check the Quality – Google search algorithms consider three signals to quantify the quality of any given web page. The three primary signals are expertise, trustworthiness, and authority. For trustworthiness, one of the many factors is – PageRank. The negative aspect of quality is checked by spam algorithms which primarily checks whether the webpage is created for search engines than human beings.
- Ease of Use – The information shared on a website should be easy to browse. Google considers usability as an essential element and quantifies it based on different factors. Prominent factors include compatibility of the webpage with different web browsers and devices (such as smartphones, tablets, and desktops).
Not all countries have high-speed internet services and therefore, may impact the usability. Hence, Google also gives prominence to webpage loading speed.
- Tailored Search Results – After entering a query on the Google search engine, the search results may vary depending on a wide range of factors. Some of the influencing factors include search history, location, and context.
For example – when searching for a term such as “cricket”, the Google search results page will show news on cricket. Next, when a user may search for the term “news”, among different suggestions, “news on cricket” can also be shown.
Examples of Information Presented in Featured Snippets
The featured snippets can provide answers to questions where generally one-word answers are required. Such data can be a date, location, time, name, and more. In the above example, after searching the query “When was Google founded”, information on date and place came up.
In most cases, the featured snippets return information in paragraph form. Sometimes, they may collect information from different sources and present it. In this above example, after typing “Who is Sundar Pichai”, paragraph-based information was returned.
The Google search algorithms identify different bits and pieces of information and present them in an easy to read form. In the above example, after searching “steps to make a house”, a step by step process was shared.
Tabular Representation of Information
Featured snippets may collect information on rates, prices, lists, and more and present it in a tabular form. For instance, after searching “google sales data”, a table was shown. Sometimes, users may observe a slight variation in the table and more than two columns may be shown.
The featured snippets for video (also known as YouTube featured snippets) return with a result from YouTube, if applicable. As shown in the above example, upon searching “how to change RAM in pc”, a video from Digital Trends was displayed in the search results.
Another important thing to notice is the use of the synonym system (explained above). The search query had the term “change” but the returned result had “install” in the title as the latter was more relevant.
Practical Ways to Include Webpage Content in Featured Snippets
1 – Perform Keyword Research
Keywords are an integral part of the content strategy and Google search algorithms give importance to keywords as well as related terms. A business that wants to rank in the featured snippets can do so by analyzing the keywords of information already present in the snippet section.
While there are tools like UberSuggest by Neil Patel to assist a person with keyword research, the same can also be done organically using Google search. For instance, while researching, do note the long-tail keywords suggested by Google as well as from the bottom section on “people also ask”.
2 – Create Content
Creating a singular marketing asset will do no good. For a marketing asset to perform exceptionally well, it has to be supported by supplementary content. For example, different marketing assets can be planned to achieve a singular goal of pushing the user to the next phase of the marketing funnel.
In the case of featured snippets, answering only a single query is not an ideal solution. To improve the chances of getting the webpage content in the featured snippets, one may have to answer more related queries as well.
3 – Formatting
How to Stop Ranking Webpage Content in Featured Snippets?
There can be multiple reasons behind why a business may not want information from its web pages to appear in featured snippets. Few ideal examples are:
- A business may want the user to fill a form with a certain call-to-action
- Information directly appearing in featured snippet may result in loss of leads for a business
- If information appears in featured snippets, the user may not learn about the offers a business is currently offering
For businesses that want to opt-out of featured snippets, the following steps can be helpful:
- To block an entire webpage for both featured as well as regular snippets, use the nosnippet tag
- To block a certain text section, use the data-nosnippet tag
How to use nosnippet and data-nosnippet tags?
nosnippet - The nosnippet tag can be used in a webpage using the meta name. Example - <meta name="robots" content="nosnippet">. data-nosnippet - Unlike nosnippet, the data-nosnippet tag is used with a specific paragraph. For example - <p>This is a <span data-no-snippet>sample sentence</span>.</p>.
Featured snippets can be a boon for some businesses and may impact negatively for a few. In this blog post, we have shared information on factors that influence the ranking of content in featured snippets, best practices, how to stop content from appearing in snippets, as well as a few relevant examples.