Google’s Featured Snippet DeduplicationAs of yesterday, Google is not showing the featured page in organic results. That is, if previously you were ranking in Google’s top 10 and were featured, now you are just featured.

The official claim is that this has been done for “decluttering” search results.

What does this move mean for web publishers?

Let’s try to figure out together:

Featured Snippets Don’t Necessarily Reflect the Search Intent

Let’s face it: Featured Snippets have been introduced to give immediate answers. But not ALL search queries that trigger featured snippets are necessarily done to find answers.

For example, if I search for [SEO report], do I want to know what it is or am I looking for templates and examples?

featured snippet example

How likely am I to skim through this explanation and scroll right past it to see more actionable results?

And let’s not forget that featured snippets are often enhanced with third-party links and images making the featured page’s prospects to get clicked even lower:

enhanced featured- snippets

On top of everything else, by design, Featured Snippets are for giving immediate answers. They remove the need to click. Organic search is where people search and click.

Should I De-Optimize for Featured Snippets Now?


The thing is, featured snippet optimization uses a lot of on-page optimization tactics (i.e. keywords in subheads, building indepth content, etc.) that help you increase your organic rankings.

So de-optimizing may hurt your organic positions.

On the other hand, optimizing for answers may boost your organic rankings.

There’s a way to opt out of being featured by using this guide but it doesn’t sound like even Google is sure of the outcome:

Those who wish to retain snippets in regularly-formatted search results but not appear in featured snippets should experiment with setting the max-snippet tag to lower lengths

Should I Opt-out of Being Featured?

It depends! In many cases, having a featured snippet is worse than having both but better than ranking organically:

I can see how featured snippets can trigger clicks when they match query intent…

If you notice a drop in clicks from Google organic search, and see that you are featured for related queries, you may (again) experiment with opting out and see what happens.

Again, the way Google puts it makes me a bit suspicious of the outcome but we shall see.

On the other hand, if you were ranking #1 and had a rich snippet, this move is like a gift to your competitor. Featured snippet don’t support rich snippets, so in some many cases, I can see web publishers would prefer their organic position.

How Can I Tell Where I Was Ranking Organically?

There’s a quick hack allowing you to see search results without featured snippets (credit for this hack goes to Kevin Richard)

All you need to do is to add &num=9 to the URL of search results. So using the example above, we see that Ahrefs ranks #6 organically, so being featured should give them a good boost:

no featured snippet search results

How to Interpret Click-Through Data in Google Search Console Now?

If you were featured previously and you are still featured now, your click-through data inside your Search Console Performance section should NOT change because, apparently, Google was showing your featured snippet click-through data previously, not your organic listing data:

search console performance

If you were/are NOT featured, you may see a higher click-through though 😉

Why Was That Actually Done?

I wish Google were more transparent with answering this question. I don’t buy the “decluttering” argument. We know they have been testing this move for a while now, so what did those tests show? Did they see people would click the featured snippet enough for them to decide the page may be stripped of their organic position?

Or what did those tests show to prompt them to go ahead with the move?

If we had more information on this, the future might be clearer…

And if there were testing this for a while, how did this happen?

featured snippet moved right

In cases where featured snippets appear to the right instead of being elevated (desktop-only), losing the organic result means losing any search visibility as few people would ever pay attention to that part outside of search results.

In these cases, Google is now re-rolling their deduplication update to still show an organic listing until the featured snippet is moved to the top of organic results.

And a funnier bug (?) is that the featured page hasn’t just vanished from search results. It will show up on top of page #2. So if you have set to see 100 results per SERPs, you’ll see your featured page ranking #101! Whoever has come up with this joke must have a weird sense of humor…

What is it if not punishing the featured page???
What is it if not punishing the featured page???

Your Thoughts?

There are more questions here than there are answers but one thing is clear: The move is making the web publishers’ jobs much harder as now they have to decide whether being featured helps or hurts them on a case-by-case basis.

What do you think?

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