Google just implemented some interesting changes to the first page of search results, impacting the featured snippet position. If you’ve been crafting your SEO with an eye toward snagging that much-coveted position, it’s important to take a look at what Google did.

On Jan. 22, Google introduced an update: web pages in a featured snippet position will no longer get repeated in regular Page 1 organic listing. In other words, if you’ve noticed some URLs get both the featured snippet box and then the top-ranking position — that’s gone. It’s a change that’s going to impact 100% of search listings worldwide because until now, URLs had the ability to show up twice on the first page of search results. 

It’s also a reminder that as we head into 2020, the SEO landscape keeps evolving as Google keeps making adjustments, posing the constant challenge of staying ahead of the curve to maintain a strong position on your rankings. 

Why Did Google Change Listings for Featured Snippets?

The change in featured snippet positioning reminds us that, if you feel like you’ve got a proven formula for your SEO efforts, proceed cautiously. What worked six months ago may not be as relevant today.

Previously, your URL had the ability to secure two spots in the search engine results pages (SERPs) if your URL ranked with a featured snippet. That was actually known as

Position Zero, since it ranked right above the regular top search results.

Google decided it was time for a change, and they even have a term for this: deduplication, or the process of removing duplicate URLs from SERPs containing featured snippets. Google removed the second URL from the right side and into the main listings, and that’s raised some questions about how we should look at SERP rankings in the future.  

Basically, Google decided it was deduplicating the organic URL represented in the featured snippet, since featured snippets have a URL within the top box above the first ranking — and that same URL was also coming up among the top-ranking results on Page One of the SERPs. So the best performing sites were getting two URLs on the same page. Google recognized that, decided to eliminate it, and now your URL will only show up in the featured snippet box.

If that sounds both confusing and a bit stressful for your SEO efforts, it helps to keep in mind that Google’s search features and SERPs have been quickly evolving for a while. But there are some basics we still know and can follow.

What Do We Need to Know About Featured Snippets?

Google has been delivering featured snippets since 2014, offering enhanced visibility and the potential for higher organic click-through rates to those who can get their content in the featured snippets box for SERPs. Also known as “answer boxes,” they appear above the first organic search results, and voice searches often take answers directly from the information in a featured snippet. That’s why they’re so desirable.

Typically, the featured snippet box has come from posts that are featured on Page 1 of Google SERPs, even as featured snippets were considered “Position 0” above the fold.

So how can you get there? Google is looking for snippets of information that directly answer questions, so a key to getting there is how well your content is written, and whether you’re thinking in terms of how users frame their questions once they start a search. You want your content to be able to deliver accurate and useful answers to their queries, and employ keywords that can be transformed into questions (“How is …,” “What is …”, etc.)

So if your website is using content to answer a very specific question, you want to think about how you can most effectively give Google’s users a solid answer.

What Should Your SEO Focus be in 2020?

Some of the more traditional rules of SEO are still going to apply. You’re still going to want to be creating high-quality optimized content, still the great lifeblood of SEO. Even as you’re giving a lot of thought to your longtail keywords, you still need to write content that’s relevant to your readers — and ultimately valuable to them. Google keeps moving in the direction of rewarding the best content in its rankings. It’s an approach that they clearly think is going to satisfy user needs. 

It’s also likely that in 2020, there’s going to be a greater emphasis on topics — creating content that can address an entire subject, theme or issue, rather than trying to build content around a single keyword that your page or website is targeting. That means understanding your audience and the kinds of questions they’re asking or the problems they need to solve, and giving them answers and solutions through high-quality and authoritative content.

Because it seems certain in 2020 that Google is going to continue reviewing the E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) standards of your content, maintain a very strong focus on the best quality possible.

Finding The Right Ways to Boost Your SERP and SEO Efforts

Google’s deduplication of its featured snippets is another reminder that the search engine universe will stay in flux as long as Google keeps looking for ways to enhance the user experience. But one rule should stay the same moving forward: go back to focusing on creating great content for your site as your No. 1 rule of thumb.

If you’re not certain about how to create the best possible content that’s going to boost your SEO and lead to higher rankings, we can help. At Market My Market, we collaborate closely with our clients to demonstrate the best ways to create content that improves the user experience for consumers. Contact us today for a free marketing consultation.