It may have been an inevitable addition to the SERP results, but Google has now started adding facts, knowledge and answers directly into the snippet portion of search results.
Announced by Google just last week in it’s blog, the company wrote that:
“Google Web Search has evolved in recent years with a host of features powered by the Knowledge Graph and other data sources to provide users with highly structured and relevant data.”
“Structured Snippets is a new feature that incorporates facts into individual result snippets in Web Search.”
The intent of course is to provide the most relevant data to users, and the search engine uses machine learning techniques to distinguish between data tables on sites, and tables that happen to be irrelevant or uninteresting (and ,hopefully, those that are incorrect too).
Additionally, Google says that further algorithms have been created to determine the relevance factor, used to display up to four ranked facts from those data tables.
Snippets will also appear on mobile devices, but with more information being placed within the SERPs the question remains over whether these kind of additions will discourage people from actually visiting the pages in which the snippets are displayed.
One webmaster, speaking on Webmaster World, wasn’t too pleased with the announcement and said that:
“Formerly, Google really distinguished itself from all other well-known properties on the web by being ‘the best place, bar none to find websites.’”
“If Google continues to transition from that paramount search engine to being merely ‘one of several places to find knowledge about nearly everything’ then it becomes more like Wikipedia, Freebase, Wolfram etc.”
“And that means there will be less reason to visit Google, not more.”
But can the snippets be trusted?
The fact that the snippets are being driven by the knowledge graph might serve only to drive fear into some brands, especially if they happen to be bakers, as Greggs found to their detriment late last August.
Although the ‘Greggsgate’ affair was the most well-known knowledge graph mix up, there have been far more, with computer giant PC World falling foul to it earlier in the year after it’s logo was replaced with a look-alike-image that read, “PC WORLD: Like hell, but with better customer service.”
All in all mistakes like these aren’t so terrible when you’re a multi-million pound company with a large social media team, but what happens when this sort of thing happens to a start-up business, or your local farm shop; places that may not really pay attention to what’s happening on the internet?