If you’ve ever Googled something only to be met with a little info box highlighting the top answer, you’ve come across one of Google’s featured snippets. Featured snippets are the small Google results that the search engine packs and delivers to the top of the page for many searches.
The problem with featured snippets is that, from the user’s perspective, these results seem to be very trustworthy – they’re featured at the top of the results page, after all. Since Google first introduced them years ago, they’ve only become more prevalent over time, but just like the rest of Google’s search results, snippets are algorithmically populated, not programmed by curators. humans.
Google says it’s rolling out an under-the-hood change that should improve the answers people see in those information boxes at the top of many search results pages. According to Google, a new AI model called the “Unified Multitasking Model” allows its search ranking system to check its own work, in a way. The AI model accomplishes this by cross-referencing the top bold text portion of a search snippet result with established high-quality search results to see if they say the same thing, even if they do. with different wording.
“We found that this consensus-based technique significantly improved the quality and usefulness of featured snippet captions,” Pandu Nayak, VP of Google Search, wrote in a blog post.
Another problem, according to Google, is that sometimes the search engine provides reasonable answers to a search query that is itself flawed. Google’s latest AI model should also help its results ranking system understand when displaying results in a snippet isn’t appropriate because the premise of the question is wrong. The company says featured snippets now appear 40% less in these cases.
“This is especially useful for questions where there is no answer: For example, a recent search for ‘when did snoopy murder Abraham Lincoln’ returned a snippet highlighting a specific date and information about Lincoln’s assassination, but that’s clearly not the most useful way to display that outcome,” Nayak wrote.
Google also announced that it would expand its use of warning messages for searches that fail to produce results in which the search engine has “high confidence”. The company already uses these content advisories for emerging topics that lack established search results, but says it will now deploy them in cases where overall search results don’t meet its quality standards.