Google is Messing Around with Featured Snippets

Last Update: February 03, 2020

Google is Messing Around with Featured Snippets

Recently there have been some changes to the way Google displays search results. And they're still experimenting.

They've suddenly changed the rules for featured snippets. Previously, an article in a featured snippet was also listed on page 1 in the organic results. Now, the article in the featured snippet only appears in the featured snippet itself.

What the Heck is a Featured Snippet?

There's a huge difference between organic results snippets and featured snippets. Featured snippets provide almost enough information to make clicking through to the website unnecessary. Plain old "snippets" are what we see for the rest of the organic results on the page.

Today, featured snippets appear just below the ads and above the "People also ask" section. The organic search results follow. I say "today" because over the next few weeks Google is playing around with how it displays search results, trying to provide the best user experience for its searchers. Yeah, they really don't care about us website owners.

What Google says about Featured Snippets

My good friend, Loes, recently wrote about this Is Google Stealing Content?

One other thing I've noticed is that you may or may not see websites' favicons within the search results as they try out different presentations.

The big question is: do articles in the featured snippets get more or less traffic than the organic results. The jury is still out on that one.

So do you try to get into or out of the featured snippet malarky? My advice is to wait until the dust settles and some authority websites have done some research based on real data.

Don't panic! (yet)

What changes have you noticed lately in the SERPS? Please share in the comments below.

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DJCubby Premium
I was thinking about my own research habits in regard to these snippets. If they (snippets) answer my question, then Google has actually helped me filter what I am looking for and I am more likely to click through (to another tab) to see if there is more info on that website article.

Then I tend to glance over a few more of the related questions and if any of them strike my fancy I look at the answers quickly and add more tabs with their articles also.

Then I do my actual scanning and/or reading of the articles opened up in all the tabs.

I'm finding myself looking less often at the organic results if my questions are answered in the snippets. I almost always click through to look at the article from the snippet though. (If it answered my question) The quick answer isn't usually enough to quit my researching, it just helps me filter what I am actually searching for.

Also, the curiosity factor makes me click through to see what else they have to say. Something about getting the specific answer, brings a sense of "trust"?

I don't know how other people use these snippets but based on my own use of them, I'm thinking I would rather be listed in the snippets rather than on the part of the page with the organic results if I can't be in both.

There is something satisfying about getting specific answers to specific questions that keeps me reading versus the old way of searching and having to "find" what I want in a list of "possibly" relevant articles.

I'm anxious to see how this all pans out as far as traffic and rankings for our websites. I'm also thinking there is a tremendous opportunity to be listed in related snippets as well. I have seen the same website in multiple snippets on the same search page.
MarionBlack Premium
As usual, Google is doing the best it can for its users - the people who are searching for information. There's a total disregard for the website owners who provide that information unless they are paying for advertising.
DJCubby Premium
Alysanna Premium
They definitely are, Marion. I noticed this when I checked out how Google displays my posts upon reading Loes' recent post. Before this major change, my posts in the featured snippets were also on the first, second or third position on page 1. Well, not anymore.

I also find it weird that although the featured snippet is that of Wikipedia's, it's the featured image in my post with the same keyword that is displayed.

Has anyone experienced this on their posts on google?
MarionBlack Premium
Have you noticed any significant changes in traffic, Alice?
Alysanna Premium
Traffic to my site has increased, Marion. I'm just not sure if this is because of what Google is doing. If it is then I'd say it's a good thing.
LorrieP Premium
Now that you bring that up, i do see featured snippets more often. You’re right, it makes it easier for the person searching, but they don’t really understand the difference between snippets and organic results.
The snippets links do not necessarily contain detailed information, but offers just enough for the person seeking quick results.
RoseAnn1234 Premium
I have noticed many pages with only 3 organic results. Whilst SEO is probably still important, I am starting to believe we need to do more and more of our own promotion and think about our Audience's needs rather than Google's .

For example, Google tends to put long posts with lots of links everywhere in page 1 and I find the posts so confusing that I tend to bounce and keep going down until I find something easier to read.

I very rarely look at the ads, out of habit.
allancurtis Premium
Interesting ... the rules keep changing, making it difficult to make headway. The first page is now almost entirely results from these analytical tools that Google uses. Regular SEO is going to be relegate to the the subsequent pages ... pay for the ad, or you don't rank! Only a matter of time as the dollars are huge!