Time and Place are Important Factors for Google’s Ranking of Featured Snippets

Ever wondered what makes certain snippets from websites feature on the top of the SERP while other similar ones feature at a different time for some other query?

Well, post-BERT, of course, the context and the aptness of the snippet for the query is a factor for it to feature on top. 

But apart from that, for contemporary topics trending concurrently, the featured snippets are chosen based on two factors, viz, time and geographic location – the place.

The Critical Context

BERT has made the context of a search query important. But what is even more important in serving the right featured snippet is the critical context.

Critical context is a term used in research to describe the process of understanding what a piece of research means.

This includes looking for clues that are not evident on the surface. Some of these clues include hidden relationships, allusions, metaphors, and references to past or present events that could have influenced the literature.

In simpler words, the critical context added more depth to the understanding of a piece of work.

The phrase also finds meaning within the study of Natural Language Processing algorithms. It helps derive the semantic meaning which data alone cannot derive.

Critical Context in the Context of Search Results

Talking about Google searches, the timing of the search query, and the geographic location from where it comes are crucial factors that decide which results will surface on the top.

If a query trends in a geography, Google algorithms try to look for content that has surfaced concerning the same in the recent past and try to fetch results from it.

The Orange Sky – A Case in Example

Recently, users in Northern California woke up to an orange sky. The sky was covered in the smoke and ash carried by the wind from wildfires. 

Just as the phenomenon gave a surge in the number of queries, there was a concomitant increase in content from the area explaining the orange sky.

As a response to these queries, Google fetched the results from this new crop of content, bypassing all past understanding gathered on the matter.

Thus, a combination of geographic context and the timing coupled with Google’s ‘freshness indicators’ listed those snippets which aptly answered the query in the context.

So, if your site does not feature as a snippet n top despite good content and healthy SEO, it is possibly not fitting into the context. Maybe, next time it will!

Till then, keep working an try to stay relevant and fresh.



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