There’s been a lot of changes happening in the Featured Snippets space on Google recently. The biggest one saw deduplication of results, meaning the 2nd URL would no longer display.
It is however important to note that Featured Snippets can come is various forms. One of those being the “Explore Panel“, which could be seen on the righthand side on desktop.
The deduplication measures were viewed as a disadvantage for those occupying the Explore Panel. Google then began slowly removing and merging the Explore Panel, with it now being non-existent in Search.
But there appears to be another change that has come with this merger. Which could very well just be a bug (so keep that in mind).
A Featured Snippet Appearing in Position #2 (Not #1)
If you take a look at the feature image for this post, you’ll see that Google has made the Explore Panel merger. Along with this change, that Featured Snippet on desktop is now appearing in position #2. This is something I’ve never seen before.
The screenshot on the right shows another article from the same property ranking directly above. Not only is there another URL above, but for added effect there is also a ‘People Also Ask’ feature. Haven’t seen that before either.
The whole point of a Featured Snippet is to appear at the top of the results page. Well, below the first set of Ads anyway. Have the rules of Google Featured Snippets changed? Is this Google making a push to not feature the Featured Snippet results as much?
The answer is that I’m not sure. But I am able to replicate this same result on mobile too (with just the page ranking above, not the PAA feature), and consistently across different browsers, which generally makes me think that its not a test.
Let me know if you’re seeing similar results for other queries. I’ve not been able to replicate this result as of yet. Will update this article if Google provides feedback on this change and if anyone else is able to surface anything similar.
Turns out that this probably isn’t a bug. Glenn Gabe brought to my attention that Stephen Watts spotted a similar result a few days ago:
Something raised by Nik Ranger of StudioHawk is that everyday searchers could be less likely to view Featured Snippets as Ads:
Featured snippets are being detached from top billing in the SERP, that could be a real game changer in terms of how everyday people think of and consume featured snippet content.— nikrangerseo (@nikrangerseo) March 23, 2020
(I say ‘everyday people’ because some think featured snippets are ads) https://t.co/DnMBvE6T13