Google has published a comprehensive “reintroduction” to featured snippets

Google homepage

 Guide is first of a new 'behind-the-scenes' of how Google search works series headed by former SEO blogger Danny Sullivan  

It's been three months since well-respected SEO expert and blogger Danny Sullivan joined Google as their new 'Public Liaison for Search', and today we get his first real contribution.

The SEO community has been lacking a useful voice and figurehead from Google since Matt Cutts left in 2014, which to some degrees left SEOs in the dark regarding how to interpret Google's famously vague webmaster guidelines.

John Mueller has done a good job of trying to fill that void by answering questions and engaging with the SEO community on Twitter, but now Danny Sullivan looks to have started actively providing insight into what Google is doing.

He has published a new guide into featured snippets, explaining Google's definition of what a featured snippet is, how they are generated and even how Google plans to develop featured snippets in the future.

You can read the full guide on Google's blog here:

The guides says featured snippets are important for both mobile and voice search, where "the traditional '10 blue links' format doesn’t work as well, making featured snippets an especially useful format."

It adds that Google will "continue to show regular listings in response to searches along with featured snippets" as "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."

Below are a series of screen shots provided by Google to demonstrate how normal featured snippets are displayed to searchers on desktop and mobile devices:

Featured Snippet example

featured snippet example on mobile

Google's guide also includes the 'suggested video clips' experience in their definition of what a featured snippet is, using the following as an example of how this works in search results:

video result featured snippet in google

In the guide, Google makes the admission that featured snippets are not always perfect and acknowledges that sometimes they can display wrong or insensitive information. They are also working on cleaning up featured snippets and identifying spam, and admit they still have a lot more work to do on that front.

The future of featured snippets

Perhaps the most interesting part of the guide is when Danny Sullivan reveals what developments Google is working on in terms of featured snippets.

For instance, they are testing adding a 'More results' link to the featured snippet to allow searchers to quickly find more answer variations if the initial featured snippet doesn't quite meet the need of their search:

featured snippets more results test

Another way Google could provide more options within the featured snippets would be to add tags so searchers could further refine the results:

tags in featured snippets example

About the Author

Luke Glassford

Luke Glassford is an SEO expert with over 15 years’ experience.

During his time working in SEO, Luke has set-up an SEO agency, worked as an in-house SEO for a major national company and managed his own successful SEO consultancy - using a lot of different SEO tools along the way!