Yesterday, the SEO-Twitter chat was centred around the news that Google has stopped listing rich snippet pages in the main SERP results. Previously, being featured in the snippet meant you were not only holding prime SERP real estate, but you were also listed in the regular results.
If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search results. This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily. Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show.— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) January 22, 2020
Danny Sullivan, Google's public search liaison, shared on Twitter that it's done to 'declutter' the results and help users locate relevant information more easily. He confirmed that the change is worldwide and effective now.
He also confirmed that the 'lost' organic/non-snippet listing will not be replaced. This means that there are now only nine organic spots on Page 1 of Google.
Is this good or bad news for your inbound marketing?
What's potentially bad:
One way of looking at it is that this change has immediately halved the amount of times you're snippet-holding content is shown to users. Also, the regular organic result is being pushed back to Page 2 (though there are no guarantees).
Previously, being in the snippet and in the listings shows your site twice to the user. This is immensely powerful for trust and authority. No wonder snippets equate to more click throughs.
Also, there are now only nine organic spots to rank for alongside the snippet, so Page 1 feels like an even more competitive place than two days ago.
Finally, what if you're displaced from the snippet? Will you replace the vacant organic slot on Page 1 (assuming that's where the new snippet page comes from)? We dunno yet for certain, though Sullivan did say he 'would expect so'.
@dannysullivan scenario:— Alan Bleiweiss (@AlanBleiweiss) January 22, 2020
Site X has FS. Organic for that page/query specific combo, disappears. What if they lose the FS? Will they instantly regain the previous high organic position for that page/phrase combo?
What's potentially good:
Well, seeing the good side of this at this point depends on how you believe people react to content in snippets.
If you feel like it's holding the snippet itself, alone, that drives the increase in traffic (snippets do equate to more traffic, fact), you can probably be confident that nothing will really change.
Advice on what to do next
This change has only just happened. And Google changes all the time (nine updates a day, to be precise). And, like most things in SEO, it's gonna take time to see any real impact.
Step one would be to get your benchmark for snippet-holding posts and pages from before the change was implemented (23rd January 2020).
Then, in your next reporting exercise, analyse the performance of those pages given the change. Then you can see what affect, if any, the change has had to traffic.
If you see that it's negatively impacting traffic despite still holding the snippet (slim chance, in our humble opinion), you can opt out of rich snippets here.
On the other hand, you may see that the more competitive front page is still leading more people to click the snippet and they therefore become more important. You can get tips on how to target them here, here and here.
Learn more on this topic
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