Google’s new search highlighter: What it means for content writers, SEO bloggers, and digital marketers

What is it?

It’s subtle enough to miss, but from June of this year, if you click on the featured snippet of a Google search, Google will automatically scroll a destination webpage and highlight your search result in yellow, pointing out the information it thinks best answers your query, directly on the page.

What does it add to Google’s UX?

The tool is most useful to those looking for quick, definitive results. If you want to know when the first case of COVID-19 was reported, who designed the Death Star, or how to make the perfect gin and tonic, Google will now help you find that answer a little bit more quickly, by auto-skipping irrelevant content and showing you the part of the page you really need to see.

Where did it come from?

Google has been testing this tool on AMP pages since 2018. Now, engineers seem confident that the search engine will consistently highlight the most appropriate text, and that all browsers and HTML pages will be compatible.

Before then, if you wanted a highlight function in Google, you’d need a basic chrome add-on.

What this means for SEO creators who want their content to rank

The highlight search result function is yet another confirmation from Google that their ideal search result is unique, content-rich, and intended to fulfill a narrow set of search queries.

Furthermore, it’s a signal that key information should be presented in short, clear snippets—if you want it to rank.

As the tool automatically skips down your page, taking your readers to the highlighted section, it’s also a reminder that you should be creating content with the assumption that readers may not start from the beginning of your piece.

It’s also probably not a good idea to use any colors that will clash with the yellow highlighter, should your page appear as Google’s featured snippet.

Finally, it’s yet another good reason to spend time on the overall structure and user flow of your content, making sure that ad placements and CTAs are leveraging the most relevant and high-value parts of your writing.

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Freelance writer from Vancouver, Canada. Posting odds and ends that never made it to print. www.joehitchcock.ca.

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Joe Hitchcock

Joe Hitchcock

Freelance writer from Vancouver, Canada. Posting odds and ends that never made it to print. www.joehitchcock.ca.

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