In the last few days you may have noticed that search results have changed a little. It would seem that Google has made a change to show a ‘people also ask’ box immediately after a featured snippet (rather than further down the search page).
It has always been clear that the two boxes are linked, and frequently appear on the same results page together (some 44% of the time in the last STAT report). More traditionally though, the people also ask boxes would be further down the page, often sitting somewhere around the fifth or sixth organic result.
The previous positioning for a ‘people also ask’ box looked something like this:
Conversely, what we’ve been seeing with this new format is that now, a fair chunk of top of the page real estate has been taken by answer and people always ask boxes. The example below illustrates the prominence of these boxes when shown together.
This new presentation seems to have begun on Valentine’s Day in New Zealand. Whilst Searchengineland reports that it is unclear whether this is a permanent or even a deliberate change by Google, it is certainly worth noting, especially if you need to investigate lower organic or paid click-through rates on search terms that feature these boxes.
If the change is permanent, now might be a great time to consider your SEO strategy around gaining these snippets for your site. We have a more in depth discussion on how you might approach getting snipped, and you can see by the squeeze on page real estate that without these snippets, even third or fourth ranked organic results may no longer get the click-through love that they are used to.
This is especially true for queries that contain the maximum number of top of page paid ads as well. On a highly competitive term like that, there a no normal organic results above the fold.
This is what you get when trying to figure out the cost of LASIK surgery in New Zealand:
I mark the above screenshot as being 952 pixels high, and the people also ask box isn’t even complete at that level. This means that on all but the largest of screens, the SEO work you’ve done to be the number one organic listing without a snippet is in some serious jeopardy.
We’ll watch the search results page with interest and listen out for any comments from Google on that matter, but for now it would definitely pay to keep an eye on traffic and click-through rates with search console, especially on those “what” and “how” queries we talk about in our featured snippets blog.
As a side note to this, rumours are beginning to fly around the SEO world about a Google algorithm update that may have taken place on the 7th of February. At present there is no comment from Google on the matter, and a cursory look at rankings for some of our clients hasn’t shown any significant changes. But if anyone notices a drop or spike beginning around February 7th, drop us a line, we’d love to hear about it.
Tuesday, 7th March 2017