Google’s spring clean started early this year with a lot of changes in January 2020. The latest update hits featured snippets and has rolled out globally. It was announced on Twitter on January 22nd:
“If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search results. This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily. Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show.”
– Danny Sullivan
What does this mean for my organic rankings?
If you have a featured snippet you can’t have a second organic listing. We’ve seen organic listings drop to the second page and completely drop out of the listing all together. In this way Google is limiting how much space one URL can occupy in the SERP. There have been similar updates in the past (The Domain Diversity update as Google tidies up the SERPs even more.) which have combatted this problem of one domain occupying multiple listings on the first page of the SERP.
For example, “credit reporting”, before the update investopedia.com occupied the featured snippet slot and position 8 on the web rankings.
After the update investopedia.com retains the featured snippet, drops out the web results and Credit Karma jumps up a slot onto the first page.
Can I remove my featured snippet from the SERP?
Yes. You can add a nosnippet (or maxsnippet) tag to a page if you want to try to keep your organic position instead. This will prevent Google from using content from this page in a featured snippet. However, bear in mind that by opting out of featured snippets Google is likely to choose a competitor to feature instead.
How does this update affect page 1 rankings?
A page one listing at Rank position two or below may increase its ranking from this update. This will be the case if the organic listing sits beneath the listing that feeds into the featured snippet, as that listing will be de-duplicated. Unfortunately, if the featured snippet’s organic listing sits far down page one, there will not be much change in organic visibility. If there is no featured snippet provided for the key phrase, your page one listing won’t change.
How will the featured snippet update impact reports?
Sites which hold many featured snippets with additional page one organic listings will see a one-off drop in number of page one listings. However each key phrase drop will need to be judged individually. Which combination results in the highest CTR and therefore the most traffic? Occupying the featured snippet slot and letting your web page ranking drop off page one, or keeping your web page ranking on page one and removing your featured snippet. The position of your organic ranking would have a big impact on CTR. From this you can decide whether you want to retain featured snippets on a per key phrase / page basis.
What about Knowledge Graph-style Featured Snippets?
Featured snippets in the right-sidebar on desktop will move inline to the main column and also have their organic listing deduplicated in the next month.
The SERP landscape has changed again and the pace of change is increasing. Sites which owned the featured snippet and a position on page 1 in organic listings will lose their page 1 listing. More sites can rank on page 1.
This update, although frustrating for sites which had both a featured snippet and a page 1 position in organic listings, provides more options for users and increases competition within the results.