Google is Creating Featured Snippets from PDF Content

Google has been spotted pulling content from PDFs to create featured snippets.
This is the first time people are seeing this happen. Traditionally, Google would grab content from websites to render featured snippets.
I could reproduce this myself, even when using the same query shown in the screenshot.
It likely varies from user to user, based on what Google believes is most relevant to the individual.

What Does this Mean for SEOs?

The most important takeaway for SEOs is that PDFs can now receive featured snippet placement, also referred to as “position zero.”

That means, best practices that apply to optimizing web content for featured snippets may now apply to PDFs.
From the article linked to above:

“…featured snippets are usually won by those pages that are already ranking on Page 1. So, that means improving upon your previous ranking success is still important.”

To learn more about improving on the previous ranking success of PDFs, check out these 10 tips to make your PDFs SEO-friendly.

From the article:

“Optimizing PDFs for SEO, however, remains a largely untapped opportunity. Google can crawl, index, and rank the documents, but simple best practices are often under-utilized or just unknown.”

Now that PDFs are eligible to appear in featured snippets, we may be seeing much more optimization of PDFs going forward.

Most recently, Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for search, published a comprehensive blog post on the search engine’s featured snippets: the concise responses to search queries that appear above general results.

The post dives into what a featured snippet might look like depending on how a search was conducted (like voice or mobile), or what information is being requested.

Sullivan also acknowledged where Google has gone wrong with featured snippets, and how it plans to approach them moving forward.

Web pages can be moved to mobile-first indexing even if they’re not considered usable on mobile.

Mueller provided an example, saying PDFs can be added to mobile-first indexing even though they are terrible to navigate on mobile.

As long as Google can crawl all the text, and it can be displayed on a mobile device, then it can be added to mobile-first indexing.


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