Have you noticed that featured snippets are appearing far less frequently in Google search results? One Google user did, prompting the search engine’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, to explain the feature’s supposed volatility.
Featured snippets are a type of search result that displays an entire passage from a result at the top of the results page, rather than the typical page title and link you’d normally see.
In other words, when Google is so confident that a page can answer your query, it displays a relevant paragraph from that page right on your results page. The feature is great for a lot of reasons, primarily that it speeds up the process of getting an answer.
However, some Google users started to notice that featured snippets weren’t showing up as often as expected. Search Engine Land reported that there was a significant drop in the frequency of these results after Feb. 18.
Fortunately for those who became curious, Mueller gave some insight on the function of featured snippets during a recent Google Hangout.
Mueller’s comments were prompted by a viewer, who said that he was “Just wondering if that was deliberate on Google’s side to reduce featured snippets from showing up or if it was […] for another reason?”
Mueller didn’t provide any clarity on the Feb. 18 drop, but he did talk give insight on featured snippets.
“The featured snippets and rich results in general, those kinds of things can fluctuate over time, and I know the teams are always working on those features and trying to fine-tune the triggering.”
Mueller then speculated that the issue could be from a significant change in the threshold of what would ‘trigger’ a featured snippet to appear.
“Sometimes the triggering changes over time – we reduce the threshold overall, or we change the focus a little bit and say, ‘less here’ and ‘more here’. Sometimes, that happens across geographies or languages. These kinds of changes from our side are essentially normal organic changes in search.”