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Google Search now highlights website content based on search results [Updated]

Following a test last August, Google has recently rolled out a new feature for Google Search. If you search and click on a Featured Snippet, Google will now highlight the content you’re looking for within the article.

Update 6/3/20: Google has widely rolled out support for highlighting content from search on standard HTML websites. Danny Sullivan details on Twitter that Google started rolling out this functionality as of late May, and at this point, it should be widely available for everyone.

With this feature, Google will highlight content from a Featured Snippet directly on a webpage. This might not appear for every single search result, but there are some examples that work consistently. SearchEngineLand points out that searching for “what does a VPN do” brings up a snippet from an article from either Norton or How-To-Geek that sees a portion of the article highlighted. You can see this in action below.

A Google support page further details that website owners don’t need to make any changes to use this feature, it’s completely automatic. Plus, if Google can’t “confidently” highlight the correct content or a browser doesn’t support the feature, Google will just open the page as normal.

Notably, this feature rolled out to AMP pages in late 2018.

Original Article 8/26/19: A Google engineer confirmed on Twitter (via SearchEngineLand) that the company is currently testing out this functionality on approximately 5% of all WebAnswer results, meaning results where the user visits a website through a search snippet. Those who see this test will find that certain portions of an article are highlighted based on their Google search query.

Only a small portion of Google searches are seeing this change, so you may not be seeing it just yet. It’s unclear if Google has any plans to roll this out to a wider group of users at any point.

Notably, this functionality isn’t new to Google Search itself, as this highlighting feature first showed up with AMP pages in 2018. With searches on mobile devices, some AMP pages will immediately scroll to and highlight the portion of the article that specifically answers a question. With this test, Google is not only moving the feature to desktop users but also removing the AMP-only restriction.

This highlighting functionality also apparently only works on Google Chrome with search, as it’s using a “targetText” feature of the browser. In some cases, the feature doesn’t work properly which could be one reason Google isn’t widely rolling it out.

Image Credit: Glenn Gabe

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