Google has announced the introduction of Structured Snippets - short snippets of factual information displayed alongside web search results.
The new feature was first spotted in the wild by Alex Chitu at Google Operating System over two weeks ago. However, Google's announcement on its Research Blog yesterday means the feature is now out of its testing phase, and we're likely to see it increasingly frequently in SERPs.
In its blog post, Google gives the examples searches 'nikon d700' and 'superman'. A result for the former shows snippets for 'Sensor resolution', 'Display size / resolution' and 'Weight', while the latter's result brings up facts about the superhero's creator, place of origin and first appearance.
Google's blog post suggests Structured Snippets are "powered by the Knowledge Graph and other data sources," and says they work by using "machine learning techniques to distinguish data tables from uninteresting tables, e.g., tables used for formatting web pages."
More algorithms are used to determine which pieces of information are most useful to the user, writes Google. However, the firm also points out that "fact quality will vary across results based on page content, and we are continually enhancing the relevance and accuracy of the facts we identify and display."
For search engine optimisation, this means a further shift towards web search being used as an information source in itself, rather than simply a gateway to other pages - a process driven by, and arguably started by, Google's Knowledge Graph technology.
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