UPDATE: See our 2019 study on rich answers in search
We’ve tracked over 1.4M queries since July 2015, charting how many of them return featured snippets, Knowledge Graph-based results, and/or enhanced regular snippets in the search results. There are links to our prior studies at the bottom of this post.
We used the same set of queries for all four of our studies. All of the queries were selected because they were deemed likely to be something that could be addressed either by a Knowledge Graph result or a featured snippet result. In other words, all the queries look for a relatively simple, factual response.
There are a few important terms to understand when looking at this data:
- The Knowledge Graph is a Google database containing many billions of public domain facts.
- A Knowledge Panel is factual information provided by Google that is sourced from its Knowledge Graph, Wikipedia, or both. On desktop devices, this appears to the right of the search results, but on mobile devices it appears in line with the regular search results. Other than in the case of Wikipedia, no attribution is provided to the source of the information (since it’s public domain, that is not required).
- A Knowledge Box is factual information provided by Google that is primarily sourced from the Knowledge Graph. On both desktop and mobile devices, this appears in-line with the regular search results. As with the Knowledge Panel, no attribution is provided.
- A Featured Snippet is information that Google sources from third-party websites, which is then provided above the organic search results, along with attribution to the page where Google sourced the info.
- An Enhanced Snippet is when a regular search result is enhanced with more information, beyond just that of a tile and a description. One example of this is the Sitelinks feature in the search results.
- A Rich Answer is any search result that has one or more of the above features present in the result.
One more important point, and then on to the data! In this year’s study, we searched the 1.4M+ search queries using a mobile user agent. This does cause some differences in the way our data is calculated, but we’ll explain those as we go along.
Total Rich Answers
We continue to see growth in the total incidence of Rich Answers, as shown here:
Total Featured Snippets
In contrast, we saw a slight drop in total featured snippets:
This represents a drop of about 11% in total featured snippets.
Total Knowledge Graph-Based Results
We also saw a somewhat larger drop in total Knowledge Box + Knowledge Panel results, as shown here:
The total drop was about 32%.
Total Featured Snippet Results with Videos
The incidence of featured snippets that contain videos, however, went up significantly:
Comparing Mobile and Desktop
In addition to examining the 1.4M+ results in mobile, we also took a random sampling of 185,075 additional queries, which we also ran with a desktop-user agent to compare the results.
Total Rich Answers: Mobile vs. Desktop
The incidence of rich answers on the desktop is noticeably higher than it is for mobile:
Total Featured Snippets: Mobile vs. Desktop
Desktop has the lead here, though by a smaller margin:
Total Knowledge Graph-Based Results: Mobile vs. Desktop
Total Featured Snippets with Videos: Mobile vs. Desktop
This one is pretty close to a dead heat:
A strong presence of videos in featured snippets in mobile makes sense, as videos work very well in mobile environments.
- Rich Answers continue to rise. Across all of search, Google continues to increase the number of results that go beyond the traditional “blue link” with a two-line description.
- Featured Snippets and Knowledge Graph results dip. For the first time, we saw a slight decline in the number of featured snippets and knowledge graph results across all of search.
- Featured Snippets with videos grow. After a sharp dip last year, Google seems to have re-committed to video-based featured snippets.
- All types of Rich Answers are more common on desktop than mobile, including featured snippets. However, video featured snippets on mobile occur with about the same frequency as on desktop.
Our past Featured Snippets Studies and Articles:
- Featured Snippet Churn Documented: What it means for Your SEO Strategy
- Featured Snippets: New Insights, New Opportunities
- Google’s Featured Snippets: Automated Continuous Improvement
- The Definitive Guide to Google’s Rich Answers