Google is trying to make it easier to find the information you’re looking for on external websites by highlighting relevant sections in yellow, SearchEngineLand reports. The functionality works with Google’s Featured Snippets — the standalone boxes that appear at the top of search results that attempt to give you answers without having to visit a website beyond Google.
Clicking the snippet still takes you to the webpage that it pulled the information from, but now the text from the snippet will be highlighted in yellow, and the browser will automatically scroll down to the section in question. You can see how it looks in practice in the screenshots below.
The functionality works on Google’s Featured Snippets, shown here at the top of the search results. Screenshot: Google Clicking on the snippet takes you to the same webpage as before, but the relevant text is highlighted in yellow, and the page may scroll down automatically to bring it into view. Screenshot: The Verge
According to Google’s Danny Sullivan, the company has been working on the functionality for a while. It rolled it out for AMP pages in 2018, and started testing the functionality on HTML pages last year. As of last week however, Google is now regularly using the feature on HTML pages. The rollout was confirmed via a tweet from Google’s official Search account.
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/vKFmR3HLK3
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) June 3, 2020
Although SearchEngineLand reports that the feature is now live on most featured snippets and browsers, in our experience we found that the feature doesn’t always work. We were able to get it working in Chrome on desktop and Safari on mobile, but clicking on the same snippets in Edge or Safari on desktop didn’t show the yellow text. A Google support page notes that the functionality may be limited based on what individual browsers support.
For the most part, this seems like a common sense way to get users to the content they’ve searched for more quickly, even if the yellow highlighting might clash with the design of the site. However, SearchEngineLand notes that this could have an impact on the ad market, since a website’s visitors may be automatically scrolled down past its ads to the relevant content. The publication notes that sites may need to change the location of their ads in light of Google’s latest feature.