“That’s an [algorithm] update: they didn’t start moving from position one to four because of COVID, [Google is] experimenting with something there,” said Dr. Pete Meyers, marketing scientist at Moz, during our search disruption session of Live with Search Engine Land.
“One percent of all SERPs containing featured snippets now have featured snippets not in the top position,” said Olga Andrienko, head of global marketing at SEMrush, adding, “It’s tiny, but we considered it as an update, and it was interesting because we’ve seen it for branded queries and also for informational ones as well.”
“This [new featured snippet variant] has primarily impacted featured snippets that previously appeared on the right-hand side of the results page on desktop,” wrote Australian SEO consultant Brodie Clark in his deep dive on the new search result type.
Initially, right-sidebar featured snippets were not part of Google’s effort to “declutter” the search results by deduplicating featured snippets that appeared in the main results column alongside the corresponding regular organic listing with the same URL. However, the company did eventually move right-sidebar featured snippets into the main results column.
Unlike the more common featured snippets that you may be used to, these can appear in positions 2-3 or as low as position 7, have characteristics similar to knowledge panels and are typically not triggered when the search term is a question, Clark wrote.
Why we care. While these new featured snippet variants are still distinguished by a box and may contain images and the like, they don’t offer top-of-page-level visibility.
Knowing whether a query you’re looking to rank for contains a “regular” featured snippet or one further down the page can inform whether or not to pursue that particular featured snippet. It can also provide context for the traffic you’re getting from that query if you already own the featured snippet.
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