Canonical Chronicle - Episode 57 - Changes to Feature Snippets

In this video

  • In the news this week, security software Avast has killed off their sister company Jumpshot after the press revealed that they have been secretly harvesting user data.

  • Lately, google has been making a lot of changes to the way the SERPs look. In particular we are seeing featured snippet deduplication.

  • Finally, Google has added a New Removal Tool in Search Console.

Links mentioned

Intent and SERP based keyword research:

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- Most tech companies are at best a little creepy when it comes to data collection, and at worst they are a full on digital Gollum.

- My precious.

- So it's no wonder people are starting to get a bit fed up of all this surveillance capitalism. And they're kind of demanding more from tech companies when it comes to data collection and personal data. So in the news this week security software Avast has killed off their sister company Jumpshot after a press release said that they'd been secretly harvesting user data.

- You've got to pick a pocket or two.

- Now, everyone in the search industry has known this for a very long time because that's how we get our click-stream data. For the uninitiated click-stream data are the metrics surrounding user searches and general internet behaviour. And it's kind of used by all major tool providers to give us marketplace intelligence. Now big proponents of Jumpshot include people like the original gangster of SEO, Mr. Rand Fishkin. Who this week has actually came to the defence of Jumpshot and said this on Twitter. Now this has potentially quite a large knock on effect for the data and all these popular SEO tools. We've seen a very cryptic message come out on a private SEO forum on Facebook from the Ahrefs guys. So as SEOs what do we do? Well, firstly let's click that like button to help us with the YouTube algorithm. In my personal opinion another provider's gonna pop up and provide the exact same data but it's gonna take a little bit of time for all this stuff to actually normalise. One thing to note is that most tool providers already rip all your data. So the moment you connect anything to their service, just look at this privacy policy, privacy policy, which is essentially more of an admission of guilt, rather than a statement of privacy protection. So that said, let me just clarify. It says it can rip your emails, your contacts, and absolutely everything you send to them. And if you connect to Google search console it can rip every single one of your accounts and the data that lays inside of it. Not the main account you've just connected.

- He's climbing in your windows, he's snatching your people up.

- So lately Google has been making a lot of changes to the way the SERPs look. It's kind of like they're going through that kind of 21 year old experimental arty phase.

- I'm a painter.

- That is one kind of artist.

- But lately it feels like they're kind of going through more of a tripping balls on psychedelics phase as the SERPs are kind of all over the place.

- Oh, thank you. Don't mind if I do. A mushroom.

- In particular we're seeing featured snippet deduplication. Now on January 22nd Google started to deduplicate the organic QRLs that represent featured snippets. So this essentially means that if you're the featured snippet right at the top of the SERP, and also let's say our URL may be positioned two or three, that position two and three, left the results. Marty from Rank Feature has made an amazing video explaining exactly what was happening. Here's a little snippet from it. So it looks like at first he applied a general filter to the URLs to put them onto page two. And then after a few days they took those duplicated URLs and they were completely gone. So only the feature snippet, no other rankings.

- Then we'll reinvest the earnings into foreign currency accounts with compounding interest and it's gone.

- So this has quite major implications for what it actually means to be position one. So before, a featured snippet would be classed as position zero because you had a bunch of other URLs below the SERP. But, if there's no other URL, position zero is actually position one. And depending on the query this could be absolutely amazing for you, or absolutely horrific for your click-through rate. So if your snippet answers a user question and they don't need to click on it, that's bad. But if it can half answer the question, they still need to click to the page, amazing. So all it means for SEO is that the way you do your reporting and your keyword research is gonna fundamentally change so you can also understand the entire layout of the SERP.

- We fear change.

- Right, and if that wasn't confusing enough, when we apply this to that kind of right hand side featured snippet knowledge panel thing, apparently it's called the discover box, you run into a huge problem because no one actually clicks that thing on the right hand side. You know what else that doesn't really get clicked? The like button on this video so please go and click it just now. So of course people were complaining and complaining to Google to get reinstated links in the actual SERPs if they had a discover box. And to be fair to them they have done it. But they see the next step is to take the discover box and put it straight into the middle of the SERP and have no right hand column at all. Which kind of makes sense 'cause it means that the mobile and the desktop experience become closer to one. So our advice as always, let out your reporting. You're gonna need to have a look at SERP features as well as keywords, topics, and devices. If you want to know how to do actually do this in a real world scenario, you can check out this video here that looks at keyword intent and actual layouts of the SERPs. Previously getting a URL removed from Google was straight up painful. Well, fear not. Your self mutilation days are now over. And your one handed prayers have now been answered as Google has introduced a URL removal tool inside of search console. So the new URL removal tool let's you do a few things. Number one, temporarily hide your URL in Google search. So you can now use that as an excuse to your clients when you're not actually ranking them. Number two, it will show you which content is not in Google because it's outdated. So you can now blame the fact that you're not ranking on old content. And number three, it will show you what's being filtered due to safe search and adult content. So now you can use the excuse my content is just too sexy for search. ♪ I'm too sexy for my shirt ♪ That's everything for this week's Canonical Chronicle. We hoped you've liked it. If you did please hit the like button. If you loved it please do subscribe. And until next time we will see you later.