On January 5, 2024, Google updated its documentation about featured snippets to clarify where the SERP feature gathers information.
Before, the documentation implied that Featured Snippets collected information from structured data and the meta description HTML element. This is incorrect. Google now clarifies that the primary source of the SERP feature is the page content itself.
Here is what the documentation previously stated:
“Google uses a number of different sources to automatically determine the appropriate snippet, including descriptive information in the meta description tag for each page. We may also use information found on the page, or create rich results based on markup and content on the page.”
This statement implies that Featured Snippets are derived from markups and meta descriptions and that Google may use the page content.
The new version now states:
“Google primarily uses the content on the page to automatically determine the appropriate snippet. We may also use descriptive information in the meta description element when it describes the page better than other parts of the content.”
Now, Google clarifies that the page content is the primary source and that they may use meta descriptions and markups if they describe the page best.
Google also eliminated language that told site owners to use structured data and meta descriptions to suggest content for featured snippets. In its place, the documentation now reads:
“Snippets are primarily created from the page content itself. However, Google sometimes uses the meta description HTML element if it might give users a more accurate description of the page than content taken directly from the page.”
This changes how SEOs use Featured Snippets, emphasizing Google’s push for helpful content.
SEOs should reacquaint themselves with how to write good meta descriptions so that there is a higher chance of your content being in a featured snippet. According to Google, these are best practices for writing quality meta descriptions:
- Create unique descriptions for each page on your site;
- Include relevant information about the content in the description;
- Don’t list keywords;
- Use a snippet from the article for a description;
- Summarize the whole page;
- Be specific and detailed;
- Programmatically generate descriptions when applicable.