Have you ever looked at the search results on Google and thought, What did you do to deserve a top spot? Well, now you don’t have to wonder. In July 2021, Google introduced a new feature on its search results pages that explains why it ranks specific search results. Although you won’t receive a comprehensive explanation of all Google’s ranking factors, you are able to review several of the key factors that helped a specific search result rank on Google. To explore how this feature works and why you should care, please scroll down.
Google’s “About This Result” Feature
Before we dig into this new update, let’s review Google’s “About This Result” feature.
Back in February 2021, Google launched the “About This Result” feature. The goal was to help searchers better understand a search result before they chose to click on it. To view the feature, you simply tap on the three dots in the top right corner of a search result snippet.
When you do this, you can learn information like the following:
- The source of the search result
- Information about the source (sometimes from Wikipedia)
- Whether or not your connection to the site is secure
- The full URL
- Which of your search terms appear in the result (part of the new update)
- The language of the search result (part of the new update)
- For which regions the search result appears relevant (part of the new update)
- Whether or not the search result is an advertisement (part of the new update)
This feature helps searchers determine if they can trust the search result to safely and accurately provide the information they’re seeking. Here is an example:
As you can see, the feature also provides links to Google’s privacy settings and its “How Search Works” page.
It’s important to keep in mind that although this feature is still undergoing beta testing, Google has been testing it for quite some time (at least since October 2019). According to Search Engine Land, Google has been conducting extensive user testing to determine whether or not searchers find the feature useful. If you want to provide feedback to Google, you can do so at the bottom of the feature, where it says “Send feedback on this info.”
The descriptions found in the feature are the same ones that Google uses in its Knowledge Panels. The site descriptions come from Wikipedia because, according to Google, “we trust it, we know it is verified and regularly updated by hundreds and even thousands of global Wikipedia editors” (source).
The “About This Result” feature was rolled out on February 1, 2021.
The Update You’re Here to Learn About
Before Google expanded the “About This Result” feature in July, it didn’t include any information regarding the specific factors that compelled the algorithm to make a specific search result rank on Google. These factors include the following:
- Terms on the web page that match your search query (This includes terms in the HTML, including the title tag and meta description.)
- Terms on the web page that are related to the terms in your search query
- If links from other websites influenced the search ranking
- If the search result had images related to your search query
- If geographical information influenced the ranking
- If language influenced the ranking (Note: Currently the feature is only available in English.)
These factors appear in a section called “Your search & this result.” Although Google has not revealed all of the factors that may appear, the ones listed above have been confirmed.
Within this feature, Google also provides search tips so that you can edit your query in order to find more relevant, helpful results. To find these hints, you must hover your cursor over the underlined words. Here is an example:
As you can see, Google hints that it might be helpful to include a word or phrase inside quotes in order to find an exact match for the search query.
Is This Feature Fully Rolled Out?
Yes, Google has rolled out the feature in the United States for all English search results. In time, it will be expanded to reach more countries and to include other languages.
Are Searchers Loving It?
Unfortunately, we don’t know! Google has not stated what percentage of searchers are using the “About This Result” feature or what they think about it overall. We do know that it has been viewed “hundreds of millions of times” (source).
Why Should I Care?
If you have an interest in online marketing, you almost certainly want to know more about why Google ranks certain sites highly for specific queries. With this new update, Google is giving clear feedback about the factors it values. While it won’t tell you every factor involved and which factors play the biggest roles, you can learn the basics. Whether you’re generally curious about SEO, trying to overpower your competition’s high-ranking search result, or simply want to rank on Google, this feature may prove useful. And of course, searchers may appreciate that Google is being more upfront and transparent about why some search results fly to the top while others flounder.
If you’re hoping to build a beautiful, effective website that will rank on Google, contact 417 Marketing for help. Our team of knowledgeable, creative, and passionate professionals specializes in SEO, web design and maintenance, and Google Ads, and we have successfully completed over 700 websites since our inception in 2010. Contact us and learn more about what we can do for your company.