Google’s Latest Featured Snippet Change


On January 22, 2020 it was announced by Google that they would stop duplicating the websites used as featured snippets. If a site is lucky enough to be used as a featured snippet (a.k.a. answer boxes), Google will no longer show their organic listing again in those same results. Previously, if a site was featured they would also maintain their organic search engine results page (SERP) listing, essentially giving them two placements on a single results page.

Will the featured site lose traffic because they are losing a placement?

Unfortunately, there is no single answer for these questions. It is possible that a site will lose traffic if they are only featured, but only to those users that aren’t interested in clicking through to continue reading the information presented. If your featured snippet is enticing and authoritative enough you should have no problem getting searchers to click through on your snippet. However, if they were only looking for a quick answer and got that from your snippet, they were never going to turn into site traffic anyways, so no loss!

How does this affect organic keyword reporting?

In Search Console, Google is only reporting performance on your topmost placement and that includes the zero spot (featured snippet area) of the SERP. Removing a duplicate placement has no impact on reporting then. If you’re using other tools to report on keyword rankings such as GetStat, they are currently working on a plan to account for this change in their ranking system- so stay tuned.

Can I still show up for a second spot on the first page of the SERP?

Yes! The deduplication only impacts exact URLs. If you previously had more than one page from your site rank on the first page for a specific keyword, you will continue to see that second URL in the organic listings (in addition to your featured snippet page). It’s also worth noting that this deduplication only applies to the first page of results.

So how do I get my site to rank for a featured snippet?

If all this ‘featured snippet’ talk has you interested in getting your site to rank for position zero, we have a few quick tips to get you started.

  • Sites with placements on page 1 of Google’s SERP are the most likely to get picked up as a featured snippet, so don’t stop working on that SEO.
  • Reframe the content you wish to be featured in a question-answer format. State the question clearly and exactly how it might be asked by your target audience. Give your answer in the beginning of your content then go on to give a more detailed explanation.
  • If there’s too much competition for the question you had in mind- throw it into the search and see what Google says ‘People also ask’. Try to rank for a lesser searched- but just as valuable- question.

Google SERP People Also Ask Snip

  • If there is already another site featured- take notes. Look at how they have formatted their answer. Don’t forget to click through to the page. Look at what they are doing on that page to rank organically.
  • Keep your answer concise if you can. Make your first paragraph (featuring your answer) between 40 and 50 words. This has been shown to be the effective word count.
  • Provide your answer in an easily digestible format when possible. Use bullet points, numbered lists, charts, and images.

Google changes are nothing new to us. We take pride in our ability to stay on top of digital marketing trends and use that knowledge to give our clients the advantage over their competition. If you’re interested in benefiting from our expertise, let’s grab some coffee!