Google announced on January 22nd that it will be cutting the duplication of featured snippet URLs on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Featured snippets used to display as position zero in a box at the top of the SERPs, but that URL could be displayed further along the page too. You essentially ranked twice! With this new update, featured snippets are now no longer position zero because that result is not duplicated, it will just be position 1.
Removing the duplicate URLs from the SERPs with featured snippets is called deduplication.
Before this change, this is what the SERPs looked like:
As you can see here, the Kissmetrics URL is not only a featured snippet (FS), but also in Position 2 in the organic search listings.
Whereas now, the featured snippet will take position 1:
The Jeff Bullas article only occupies the featured snippet and nowhere else in the rankings.
This change doesn’t affect featured snippets containing video, but be wary that deduplication could happen down the line for these content types too. If you’re worried about your ranking and content your business is producing, perhaps you need a Matrix Website Health Check?
There has been a lot of confusion following this change, but some speculate that Google wants to feature their ads more prominently on the SERPs. The featured snippet box had a cluttered feel, and even though there’s a URL within the box for searchers to click on, Ahrefs analysis shows searchers often went to the position one ranking to click through (even if it’s the same URL as the FS!).
Google have revealed that top stories, image carousels, local listings, and normal knowledge panels are not deduplicated. Right side featured snippets will also more to the top left position soon, and these also show as duplicate content in the organic listings.
If you’re worried about a result you were ranking for as a featured snippet, but you didn’t rank organically further down, will you completely lose your ranking?
No, because FS were already high ranking, you should be able to optimize and boost your position to go higher in the SERPs again (if you lose FS positioning), or you will remain in the featured snippet as position 1.
Identifying the webpages which appear as featured snippets and then honing in on the keywords of those pages will allow you to analyse their CTRs and rankings. Using tools such as Google Search Console and Google Analytics will provide you with the relevant information on their competitiveness.
Depending on your marketing goals, remaining as a featured snippet might be optimal for your website and users. But if you’re goal is to get people to click on your website, they may not want to do that after receiving the correct amount of info from the FS. Google’s NoSnippet tag allows you to prevent your page from ranking in the FS box, but you then run the risk of not ranking high in the SERPs if you were previously in position zero.
Your GSC performance reports will not be affected, because the FS box was already counted in the reports.
Data and tracking is very important over the coming weeks. Track where your traffic is coming from and how your positioning in Google for certain keywords is doing. If you already ranked highly, whether in the FS or in organic search, then there may be switching between positions for a while as competitors change their pages.
If you’d like to remain in the FS box then reevaluate your traffic and marketing goals to decide on whether you’d like to stay here.
If you’re feeling confused or unsure about your rankings or audience engagement, why not contact our team to see how we can help provide keyword and competitor insights to boost your rankings again? Contact us today!
By Maria Prendeville
By Rakky Curvelo