How to get Fraggles – Using links to named anchors to improve your search result snippets

Richard Baxter

What are Fraggles, and how do I get them?

A very, very long time ago Google announced their support for a new feature, that they referred to as “jump to:” links.

named anchor fraggles example mobile

An SEO’s guide to robots.txt, noindex and REP uses named anchors as a navigational aid.

How do named anchors work?

The jump to links used internal “named” anchor links found in the HTML of a document. Think, “quick navigation” links to move you to a relevant section heading on a page.

A URL would use a # fragment in an href link. By inserting an id name in a container, that link would jump you to a point on the page. If you’re a web standards person, this is a named anchor link. If you’re Google, this is a “jump to” link.

For example:

page.html#my-example

These features were first put to use almost a decade ago, but my friend Cindy more recently coined the phrase “Fraggles”.

I think that has a nicer ring to it than named anchors or jump to links!

First, ensure that long, multi-topic pages on your site are well-structured and broken into distinct logical sections. Second, ensure that each section has an associated anchor with a descriptive name (i.e., not just 'Section 2.1'), and that your page includes a 'table of contents' which links to the individual anchors.

Google Webmaster Central

This article explains how to get “jump to” links in your search result snippets, and how to quickly modify them using Search Console (much in the same way you can do this with your Answer Boxes.)

How to get jump to links in your search snippets

Google advises to use “distinct, logical sections” on our pages.

Review each of your page sub-titles to make sure they’re as relevant as you can make them to actual search queries.

It’s nice to make your headings relevant to the types of search query you’re targeting on your page, so take your keyword research into account when you’re designing your headings. Obviously, if you’re writing a decent document or online guide, this part of the process tends to happen naturally.

Have a list of those headings handy for this next step:

I tend to use H2 heading containers to structure the main topic areas of my document, but this works with h3 and strong containers too.

Create a “Quick Navigation” table while carefully considering your anchor ID names to insert into your links.

Here’s a sample used on my robots.txt article:

<strong>Quick Navigation</strong>
<ol>
 <li><a href="#page-level-indexing">Using meta robots</a></li>
 <li><a href="#x-robots-tag">Using X-Robots-Tag</a></li>
 <li><a href="#robots.txt">Set crawl directives in robots.txt</a></li>
 <li><a href="#testing">Test robots.txt</a></li>
 <li><a href="#removing-content">Removing content via Google Search Console</a></li>
 <li><a href="#examples">Real life examples QA</a></li>
</ol>

As soon as you’ve built your quick navigation links, you can work through your document adding unique ID’s into each of the headings, like this:

<h2 id="page-level-indexing">Setting page level indexing directives with meta robots</h2>

Now you’re done, so just test your document and make sure you’re happy with the links.

Using Fetch as Googlebot to update your snippets

This is the old desktop snippet. As you can see, the links are somewhat hidden as Google is forced to trim the anchor text links down in the search results page:

old desktop snippet

Those snippets are generated from the (previous version of my) quick navigational links:

So, I created a newer, trimmed down version:

new navigation

Then, go to (old) Search Console and use Fetch as Googlebot:

request indexing

And, in the time it took me to update this blog post, your jump to links are updated in the search results:

It’s the pace at which Google updates things now that really astounds me. Back in 2009 when this article was first written, we’d need to wait days for these things to change. Astounding.

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