In the past week (Jan 22nd to be precise), Google confirmed that they have rolled out an update which prevents a website from gaining the featured snippet and a more traditional organic listing on the first page. This feels in line with their update last June which aimed to provide more domain diversity within relevant search results by restricting domains to two links on a single results page.
Danny Sullivan announced on Twitter that featured snippets count as one of the 10 organic listing on the first page and that a website’s listing would not be ‘repeated’ on the same page. Initial reports show that links have been pushed back to the top of page 2. Danny Sullivan referred to it as ‘deduplication’, with the aim of giving searchers access to information quicker through the removal of clutter.
The initial reaction to this update was one of a little confusion as can be seen on Search Engine Journal. The theory of deduplication on the first page seems clear (remember this only occurs on the first page, related to featured snippets). However, we don’t have any data on how this is going to impact CTR, although Mr Sullivan did say this was rolled out globally.
We understand why Google would want to release this update. The featured snippet provides an opportunity to click through to the webpage so why would you want to include the same link on the same SERP?
Will it be effective?
In the same vein, the EMD update of 2012 and the more recent update in June 2019 limiting the amount of results from the same domain on the same results page seem logical. They don’t seem to work particularly well though. According to our data, the EMD update didn’t have any impact for a number of years and the diversity update last year seems to be struggling when it conflicts with the EMD update. For example, when a search term is both a branded search term and a transactional search term. You only need to search ‘SEO London’ to see a page dominated by a single domain/brand (we’re not sour about this at all……).
Should we stop targeting featured snippets?
Targeting of rich results has been very popular in the SEO world in recent times, and for good reason. We’ve seen considerable increases in CTR and therefore traffic from securing featured snippets. The featured snippet still exists. The question is whether people clicked on the featured snippet or the organic result.
The short answer is that the update is too recent for any meaningful data to be released. However, we would hypothesize that featured snippets will still deliver high CTR when targeted correctly. We shouldn’t be changing our content strategies until there is solid data arguing against it.