Google changes its featured snippets: stop to double clicks in SERP

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This January keeps on bringing new surprises to whoever works inside the SEO industry: right after the launch of the January 2020 core update and other research system’s features, Google decided to intervene on featured snippets with a modification that completely overturns the nature of what was deemed as Zero Search Result.

No more double clicks for the site with featured snippets

The @searchliaison twitter account gives us the detailed info: starting from January 23rd and on global scale, if the result of a web page is displayed as featured snippet, Google will not replicate the link of that specific site on the SERP’s first page. The change is useful to reduce results and “helps users locate relevant information more easily”.

The composition of SERPs is changing

Up until a few days ago, a site chosen with a featured snippet for a specific query used to benefit of a double link, given the fact that it was able to keep its position within classic ranking. Generally, it used to be a site ranking in TOP5 or – more frequently – in TOP3, that hence had this double chance to be clicked on by users; and in the event of a featured snippet, the classic SERP used to include 10 blue links indeed topped by this extra.

Featured snippets are now position 1 on Google

Now, instead, featured snippets count as “one of the ten web page listings we show” in SERP, says Google, and for that from “zero search results” they become true and proper “rank one results” for the specific queries.

L'annuncio di Google

An intervention of de-duplication of results

The following tweets further add that there are no “change to the overall set of web results we are showing“, hence the intervention does not modify the actual ranking and SERPs are still made of ten unique results. It is just a work of de-duplication, that deletes the previous redundance based on which Google used to show two links for the same page (one in the featured snippets box, the other among regular listings).

Which are the influenced features

This operation, though, does not have any impact on video featured snippets or other features such as Top Stories or Interesting Finds, but only “for a featured snippet-variant that may resemble a Knowledge Panel on desktop, to the right side of results“, and seems to only focus on those kind of requests for which the search engine provides textual answers and info.

Featured snippets now also for second page sites

There is another interesting info we can read between the lines of Danny Sullivan’s tweet: the deduplication intervention only involves those web pages currently ranking on the first Google page, while the sites on the second page picked for the featured snippet will keep their double links. Therefore, the privilege of obtaining a “rank zero result” (well, more of a “rank one” now) will also extend to those sites placed outside the TOP10 from now on.

What does this actually mean for the SEO

This decision could have several effects on the different involved queries and, hence, on their ranking websites: first of all, featured snippets can thoroughly answer to the users requests, who then do not have to actually click on the link leading to the site (the famous zero-clicks trend we already talked about a few months ago). So we need to verify the actual CTR to truly know if Google’s move will bring benefits or damages to our business.

Moreover, until now we used to consider featured snippets as a different and separated kind of ranking: from today on, though, they become our result number 1 (at least as SERP display) and, then, will represent the best according to Google – even if in the past the page used to be ranked on positions different from the very first one.

In conclusion, the situation of Google’s search result pages is in constant evolution and the best we can do is to buckle up, study it in depth and figure out how we can better handle it with what we have!