Google Tests New Mobile Results Format with Multiple, Expanded Answer Boxes

New mobile search features provide multiple, full answers, similar to traditional “People also ask” boxes, but fully expanded, pushing organic listings even further down the page.
Nate Dame
Nate Dame
CEO and Founder
Nate is the founder and CEO of Propecta, a results-oriented SEO consultancy trusted by forward-thinking companies, including a few of the world's largest B2B and technology brands. Propecta builds holistic SEO strategies, supports internal teams, and offers full-service execution to create an organic search presence that generates significant revenue.
August 31, 2017

Google is testing a new mobile SERP feature! Get the first look at this new feature, below.

This expanded, featured content section pulls content from other pages, similar to the usual featured snippet, to answer questions related to the search term. Up to three answers appear at the top of mobile SERPs, creating extra featured snippet-like SEO opportunities.

mobile seo feature

We noticed this morning that there appear to be two featured snippets on some mobile SERPs, for “account-based marketing.” It looks like Google is pulling both the featured snippet, from desktop, and a runner up:

mobile seo update

Confirmation that a longer meta description in organic results (like Marketo has, in the desktop SERP) indicates that Google might be testing that content for a featured snippet.

The mobile snippets, however, add questions to the top of each snippet box. They seem to be People also ask folders that are expanded by default. They are not, however, the same PAA questions that appear on desktop.

But it gets weirder. Mobile SERPs for “agile development,” for example, show three featured pieces of content:

mobile seo screen

And these results are very dissimilar to the desktop SERP:

Observe:

  • The featured snippet on desktop comes in second place in the mobile SERP.
  • The leading questions on mobile, again, are not the same as the People also ask options on desktop.
  • The first place result on mobile – cPrime – is ranking 8 of 9 on desktop organic search. Further, while the meta description is truncated in the desktop snippet, it is displayed in full on mobile.
  • The third featured result on mobile – Agile Alliance – is ranking third in organic search on desktop, but the content being displayed is completely different.

agile snippet

Could it be that Google recognizes a different user intent on mobile vs. desktop, and so is delivering different results?

“Log management,” for example, has a strong purchase intent on desktop search (although a decent learn intent is also present, per the featured snippet):

log management snippet

But the mobile SERP features more learn intent content at the top:

mobile seo log

Wikipedia falls from 0 to 2 (or -1 … how do we even number these?) from desktop to mobile, and TechTarget jumps from 3 to 0 (or -2 … or whatever).

Google seems to consider them featured snippets. Clicking “About this result” takes the user to the same Search Console Help page about featured snippets as the desktop link.

“CDN” triggers three mobile featured snippets:

And again, they don’t match the desktop SERP at all. The featured snippet on desktop comes from Wikipedia, which doesn’t appear in any of the three mobile featured snippets.

The leading questions appear to be coming straight from the content, and not in flawless English either. (“What does it mean CDN?”) Is Google’s algorithm writing its own content/questions based on the content it finds on-page? (See also, “What is the Facebook?”)

Similar to desktop featured snippets, the mobile features aren’t afraid of structured content. The third mobile featured snippet for “lead management” pulls an ordered list from the featured HupSpot page:

mobile seo update

(Talk about SERP real estate – that featured snippet takes up almost my entire screen thanks to those line breaks!)

The third mobile featured snippet for “erp” pulls a bulleted list from Wikipedia:

mobile seo news

These mobile featured snippets can be closed if the user chooses. Tapping on those arrows condenses them to the People also ask format we’re used to seeing on desktop:

mobile seo news

Unlike the desktop People also ask content, however, these always appear at the very top of the mobile SERP. Wherever we found them, it was never below other organic results.

While many tech and marketing industry queries failed to trigger these color-coded mobile featured snippets, tech and marketing seem to be most likely to trigger these results. We tapped through keywords for a number of other clients — from logistics to HR to health and wellness — and didn’t get any of these results in the mobile SERPs.

We also tried scores of other queries, and got very few mobile featured snippets — but not none. “History of hip hop” triggered three mobile featured snippets:

mobile seo hip hop

As did “history of Chicago”:

mobile seo chicago

Lots of other “history of” queries generate these results as well – from Facebook, to Canada, to coffee.

Additionally, only a few team members are seeing these results at all. Google is definitely testing. We’ll keep you posted when we know more.

Want more mobile screenshots? We have a folder of ‘em.

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