Google reduces Featured Snippets/FAQs to two results

Google don’t seem able to make their mind up on Featured Snippets and FAQs. At one point, they were everywhere, then they vanished for a bit, and now they’re back – but curtailed to two results per query.

Perhaps this is the result of many people, myself included, constantly having to highlight to Google that Featured Snippets show incorrect information– such as stating that the actor Hugh Grant married his wife, Anna Elisabet Eberstein “for passport reasons” (which he didn’t).

This is a pretty damning example of where Google’s algorithm was unable to ascertain that the information was wrong and also potentially very damaging to the people it wrongly cast into a sham marriage. Google’s algorithms continue to lack nuance in this respect, seemingly having little or understanding of context in emotional terms.

Going on Google’s past history, it’s probably more an acknowledgement that Feature Snippets aren’t “great for the user” as was initially believed. (Remembering that “great for the user” is often Google speak for “makes the user do what we want”).

Either way, I’m glad to see this pattern in the search results being rolled back, even if it is just a little.

If you’ve “doubled down” with your SEO agency on creating content specifically for Featured Snippets however, this might be bad news. There are going to be fewer slots for you to compete for and there may not be a slot of your specific snippet(s) in the future.

This is a great example of where over-investing in a new search engine feature can be high-risk. Google, in particular, are notorious for removing features from the search engine results page and if you’ve invested too much of your SEO resource in trying to exploit that feature, you can quickly find yourself getting much lower returns on your investment.

A good rule of thumb is always to spread your investment across technologies and never to put more than 1/3 of your efforts into areas that are not reasonably certain to be “evergreen” and pay off for the foreseeable future.

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