Google's endless quest to help you find the information you are looking for on the web continues with a new addition to its Featured Snippets functionality.
These are the boxes that will often show up at the top of your search results and attempt to answer your question without visiting the site, but as you've no doubt experienced the result in that box isn't always enough and you need to click through to read more.
This is where the new feature comes in, when you click through to the website for more information you will be taken directly to the relevant text which will be highlighted in yellow (via The Verge).
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According to Google's official @SearchLiaison Twitter account, this is something that has been happening for AMP pages for a year and a half, but the feature is just now going live for HTML pages. This doesn't require any action by the website itself, Google is using the Scroll to Text Fragment functionality to simply locate and scroll to the relevant text.
There is no markup needed by webmasters. This happens automatically, using Scroll To Text for HTML pages https://t.co/cE9O2cBgKu. See also more background here: https://t.co/vKFmR3HLK3June 3, 2020
Having spent some time testing out the feature it is quite hit or miss at the moment. Many Featured Snippets don't trigger the highlighting feature at all, while others aren't necessarily highlighting the appropriate text.
The screenshot below is an example where it did work as advertised on Chrome on my MacBook Pro, but I was unable to get it to work on the new Edge browser. My results were similarly mixed on mobile with Opera and Chrome working, but no luck on Firefox or Microsoft Edge. Theoretically, these browsers should all support the feature, so we'll have to see if the problem is addressed now that the feature is rolling out widely.
While it could definitely use some more work, there's no arguing that this will be an incredibly useful feature if you are looking for a specific piece of information that is buried in a longer article. Here's hoping Google continues to refine the results and that some of the other popular browsers are able to accommodate the feature soon.
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Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.