Google News January 2020

What you need to know

Google has dominated the news over the past 2 weeks in the digital and advertising industries following its announcement that it has changed search results to deduplicate listings that appear as featured snippets.

Google has been called on to reconsider its decision to block third-party cookies on its Chrome browser from 2022. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) have shared their disappointment that Google has opted to make the big change without consulting digital and advertising industries.

In a joint statement, the executive vice president of ANA and 4A’s, Dan Jaffe and Dick O’Brien, said: “Google’s decision to block third-party cookies in Chrome could have major competitive impacts for digital businesses, consumer services, and technical innovation. It would threaten to substantially disrupt much of the infrastructure of today’s internet without providing any viable alternative, and it may choke off the economic oxygen from advertising that startups and emerging companies need to survive.

“We are deeply disappointed that Google would unilaterally declare such a major change without prior careful consultation across the digital and advertising industries. We intend to work with stakeholders and policymakers to ensure that there are effective and competitive alternatives available prior to Google’s planned change fully taking effect. We will also collaborate with Google in this effort, so we can all ensure the digital advertising marketplace continues to be competitive and efficient.”

What does this mean?

Google has announced changes to the way listings appear on page 1 of search results. In a tweet, Google Search confirmed that pages which appear in the featured snippet for a search will no longer be repeated on the 1st page of results, pushing the organic listing to page 2! The changes were effected on Wednesday, January 23rd, affecting 100% of global search results! That’s definitely not good news for the digital marketing world.

On top of this, featured snippets will now be classed as one of the ten organic listings shown on the first page of results, effectively removing ‘position zero’. The organic listing of the featured snippet page, if it previously appeared on page 1, will now be moved to the top of page 2 in search results – however, this is not guaranteed. It seems that this will also be the case for searches that serve up two featured snippets.

While this will reduce duplication in results, it could also have an impact on website traffic to sites appearing in the featured snippet, as it has not been uncommon in the past to see pages in the featured snippet also appear further down the 1st page of search results.

It’s also not clear how tools like Google Search Console will deal with this change.  It’s hoped that, as you need to be in the top results to get a featured snippet, losing 1 would mean you go back to appearing in the top 10 rankings.

So exactly what does this mean for your SEO strategy? Primarily, it will mean you need to consider whether appearing within a featured snippet is worth it or if you’d rather be listed in the organic results on page 1.

If you see a drop in traffic or conversions for searches that you have a featured snippet for, it may be worth blocking the featured snippet from Google use at a (code level), so you can focus on moving up your listings to page 1 instead.

Carefully assessing raw data performance over the next few months, especially the 1st quarter of 2020 is the best way to make more informed decisions, as is putting your strategy to the test knowing what you now know.

Revise your SEO strategy and implement the changes soonest to improve your current performance results on Google. If you need coaching or assistance on SEO, please feel free to contact me to assist you with this specialised service.

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