On Jan. 22, Google released an update that de-duplicates Featured Snippets from organic search results. Any web page that earns a Featured Snippet and also appears on page-one will no longer have a second listing.
“I think this was Google’s attempt at keeping search results fair,” Senior Manager of Earned Media Chris Herbrand said. “By removing the duplicate organic blue link, Google is maintaining a sort of fairness of the results page.”
Google’s search liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed the change both from his personal Twitter handle and Google’s official liaison account that the aim of this change is to help declutter results and help users locate relevant information.
However, video Featured Snippets and features such as Top Stories or Interesting Finds are excluded from this change.
What it Means
A number of websites that earned Featured Snippets saw a slight dip in their web traffic. However, it appears that this update has done minimal damage.
“At this point we haven’t seen a major impact to organic traffic as a result of losing that duplicate link,” Director of Earned Media Greg Sidor said. “Previous studies have shown that Featured Snippets have healthy click-through rates, so this change could settle the debate once and for all.”
Since the introduction of Featured Snippets, best practices for gaining this valuable real estate and page-one placement have been closely aligned. Despite this recent change, best practices shouldn’t change too much. In fact, there is some benefit to Google decluttering its SERP results.
“We’ll now be able to isolate traffic driven from Featured Snippets versus a blue link result, which will give us better insight into exactly how users interact with featured snippets,” Senior Manager of Earned Media Fiona Riedel said.
Some SEOs that are anxious over a potential negative impact from this update may see a reason to de-optimize their website in order to back out of a Featured Snippet. The problem with this line of thinking is that it may cause unintended side effects.
“There is danger in this knee-jerk reaction in that they may potentially find their content out of both a featured snippet and a page-one blue link,” Fiona said.
At the end of the day, marketers should continue prioritizing the user experience and delivering content that serves them in order to stay ahead of future algorithm changes.