What Google’s January 2020 Featured Snippet Update Means for Marketers
30th Mar 2020, Author: Victoria Campbell
It’s no secret that we turn to Google for all of our how-tos: how to buy a home, how to treat a bee sting, how to mend a friendship. Regardless of our search query, we seek answers to our inconveniences, both small and large, trusting the answers that are provided to us via Google’s ever-changing search algorithm.
When we search for an answer to any query, Google directs us to a series of term-curated Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), the first of which includes a featured snippet. These snippets aim to answer the searcher’s question immediately, making the snippet invaluable to the hasty searcher. Featured snippets are found below the ads that bookend the organic search results, and their relevance to users is underscored by their boxed outline, as well as their repeat appearance on the organic search page. This double representation increases the likelihood that, even if searchers are not navigating to the site via the featured snippet, a high likelihood remains that searchers will access the featured snippet site as they pursue information outside of that detailed in the featured snippet.
Why Featured Snippets Matter
When featured snippets made their debut in 2014, marketers
immediately began to fret. Many voiced concerns that site traffic would
decrease as a result of users finding information via featured snippets, rather
than visiting sites. In addition to dwindling traffic, marketers worried that
the concept of position one (the first site that appears in Google’s non-paid
listings) would become obsolete, as would any site ranked below the featured
While some of these fears regarding traffic did ultimately become a new reality, the featured snippet also yielded the opportunity for savvy marketers to harness the power of keywords to make a play for their answer to headline the search results page, earning them the newly-created and deeply coveted title of position zero. In addition to this new title, websites and marketers were able to increase visibility and brand recognition by occupying multiple featured snippet spaces, as well as maximizing on their double appearance on the SERPs.
January 2020 Changes to the Featured Snippet
In late January of 2020, Google unveiled massive changes to their SERPs, including the incorporation of favicons, detailed by Treefall Marketing + Creative here, updated ad page appearance and changes to the featured snippet. In stark contrast to the past six years, Google would no longer duplicate the listing of the site that appeared as the featured snippet.
This update spurned new concerns, hinging heavily on the
worry that organic Google search traffic would decrease as a direct result of
the deduplication. This fear is not unfounded, as sites that enjoyed duplicated
appearances were able to attract audiences who were interested in the immediacy
of an answer, as well as those who were prone to a deeper dive into the SERPs.
Given the novelty of the update to the SERPS page, it is not yet apparent if these fears regarding organic search will manifest. In the meantime, the canny marketer and website owner will keep an eye toward organic traffic, tracking its ebbs and flows as all us searchers calibrate to Google’s new normal.
Need help navigating the changing tides of the ocean of search results? Consider us your life raft and contact us here today.