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Google’s Deduplication Spoils SERP Double-Dipping


Cheryl Baldwin

Cheryl BaldwinWSI, Director of Marketing & Communications

Google Search Console Report

Summary: From a user perspective, seeing the same URL ranked twice on the same page is redundant and possibly pushes another relevant – albeit competing – URL down to the next page. Users may appreciate the update; marketers, not as much.  

Mere weeks into the new year and Google has gifted all of us with a fairly significant update to  featured snippets. And if you’ve followed our recent advice to add ‘keep a very close eye on Google’ to your list of New Year’s resolutionsOpens in New Window, then you might already know all about it. (And if not, don’t sweat it – we got you covered).

In under a week, the update has been impactful and, naturally, a hot topic among marketers and business owners everywhere. I’ll discuss some background info behind this update, what it’s affected so far, and what you should watch out for as you continue to monitor your own organic traffic. 

Recap: Google Tinkered with Featured Snippets in 2019

Almost a year ago to the day, I blogged about On-SERP SEO and the increasing importance of featured snippetsOpens in New Window. This time in 2019, marketers everywhere were working to secure their site’s own featured snippets in order to earn the top spot on a results page, which was lovingly referred to as position zero. 

Position zero is essentially the Mt. Everest for SEO pros since this is where fully optimized URLs were prominently featured and ranked above position #1 in the normal search results. For example, here’s the featured snippet in position zero for the search query “What is an Android TV box?” You’ll notice the featured snippet provides the user with a complete answer without requiring a click-through.


Ultimately, Google’s goal for featured snippets in the top SERP spot is searcher-centric. While it might complicate our lives as marketers (since featured snippets arguably negate the need for searchers to click through to the web page), it was designed to provide a searcher with an answer that is relevant, concise and conveniently visible.

Current Situation: Google Deduplicates Search Results In Light of Featured Snippets

Throughout last year, URLs that held position zero by way of featured snippets often benefited by appearing twice on the first page of the search results. Twice! Some may have even appeared in the number one ranking spot just under position zero. Scenarios like this were enormously beneficial to organic traffic; the more SERP territory you occupy, the more exposure you have, potentially increasing your click-through rate. It was a marketer’s paradise to occupy those top spots…the operative word being was.

Now, Google’s latest update involved a decluttering of page one search results. URLs elevated to position zero with a featured snippet will no longer appear anywhere else on page one. This clean-up is known as deduplication

Google SearchLiaison@searchliaison

If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat it in the first page of results. This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily. Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show….81012:51 PM – Jan 23, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy593 people are talking about this

Essentially, the goal is to streamline the search results so users are presented with clean, relevant information. After all, from a user perspective, seeing the same URL ranked twice on the same page is redundant and possibly pushes another relevant – albeit competing – URL down to the next page. 

In short, users may appreciate the update; marketers, not as much.  

Beware: Unexpected Byproduct of Rollout Affecting Some Websites!  

Along with this update, Google may have inadvertently caused a spike in blood pressure to marketers around the globe! 

For a few websites (and you may want to pay particular attention to this if you own the featured snippet as well as the Knowledge Panel along the right side of the SERPs on a desktopOpens in New Window), marketers reported a sudden site rankings plummet from page one to page two in the search results. Over the course of this last week, many marketers were shocked to see their Search Console reporting URLs previously core ranked in positions 1, 2 or 3, pushed to position 11 despite owning the featured snippet. (image source) Opens in New Window

Search Engine Console Sample

If this is something you noticed, you can likely unclench and take a deep breath – Google is reportedly working on rectifying this and your ranking will be returned to its former glory. 

Key Takeaways From Google’s SearchLiaison   

To cover our bases I compiled several additional factors to consider ℅ Google’s SearchLiaison which you can follow here: @searchliaisonOpens in New Window.

  • The deduplication rollout was global – as mentioned above, there are some wrinkles to iron out. If you were affected, keep an eye on your Console and actively monitor to see the correction that’s expected this week.
  • Deduplication will not affect video snippets – but given the error with Knowledge Panel deduplication, I recommend you just keep an eye on these rankings too. 
  • Deduplication is not intended to impact Top Stories or Interesting Finds 
  • Deduplication will not affect Search Console performance reports – sites that still own the featured snippet, but have lost the organic number one position, will still be reported as the number one ranked position. #phew 

The discussion and the Q&A continues, so follow the thread with Google’s Search Liaison at @searchliaison.

Next Steps  

We know by now that Google regularly releases changes to improve search results for users. Each time a broad core algorithm update is released, our recommended game plan always involves creating quality content and providing useful answers to your audience’s queries. 

And this time it’s no different. 

My advice is to stay on course and focus on catering content to your audience. This update may have forced you to take a hit to your rankings, but follow Google’s example and mold your strategy to the users who are searching for your products or services. Keep a close watch on your search console to see if the deduplication errors get ironed out. And – perhaps most importantly – keep asking questions to stay on top of this update (and future updates for that matter). Follow the convo on Google’s SearchLiaison or ask us directly. Google updates like this are often disheartening for small businesses in particular, but there is always an optimal path forward.

About the Author

Marketing Executive with substantial expertise and knowledge of the digital marketing landscape. Experience in inbound marketing, content marketingsocial media, website management, communications, and digital advertising.

In 2019, WSI was named the Top Agency and received 15 Awards at the Annual WebAwards organized by the Web Marketing Association (WMA), bringing their total WMA Award tally to over 100

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Valerie Brown-Dufour

Valerie Brown-DufourWSI, President

Summary: WSI brings home 15 more WMA WebAwards in the 2019 competition and earns Top Agency Award recognition. 

WSI is proud to announce that we have been crowned the Top Agency by the Web Marketing Association. The Top Agency Award recognizes the consistently outstanding development going on at interactive firms. WSI outranked its global competition and won the most WebAwards in this year’s WMA WebAward competition. 

Overall WSI won 15 awards in the 2019 WebAwards including Best B2B Website, Best Medical Website, Best Restaurant Website, Best Home Building Website, five Outstanding Website WebAwards, and six Standard of Excellence WebAwards. The addition of these awards brings WSI’s total WMA Award tally to over 100 and reaffirms its place among the leading web development agencies of the world.  

WSI’s global WSI network of Digital Marketing Agencies helps thousands of businesses and organizations in various industries, maximize the potential of the internet for business growth and profitability. Receiving this award for Top Agency in WMA’s prestigious annual Web Development Competition makes all of us extremely happy and proud. But more than that, it bestows on us the ongoing and exciting responsibility to continuously raise the bar and set new standards for our clients. We would never have been able to achieve this recognition without the tremendous support and close teamwork of our Consultants, suppliers, partners, employees, and customers. It’s time to say a big “Thank You and cheers” to the incredible WSI team.

 The WebAward Competition is the premier showcase for website development in more than 96 industry categories. WSI has been entering into the awards competition since 2007. Their trophy mantel now includes a Top Agency award, 5 Outstanding Development awards, and over 100 individual WMA Awards. 

About WSI

WSI is the world’s largest network of Digital Marketing Consultants with its head office in Toronto, Canada. WSI Digital Marketing Consultants have helped over 100,000 businesses with their online marketing strategies. By using innovative Internet technologies and advanced digital marketing tactics, businesses can have a WSI Digital Marketing Plan tailored to their individual needs and help elevate their Internet presence and profitability to new levels. In 2019, WSI was named the Top Agency and received 15 Awards at the Annual WebAwards organized by the Web Marketing Association (WMA), bringing their total WMA Award tally to over 100. With the support and cooperation of its customers, Consultant network, employees, suppliers, and charitable organizations, WSI as a collective organization is dedicated to helping make child poverty history through its global outreach program

About the Author

As President, Valerie is responsible for providing support and education to the WSI global franchise system. She is also charged with managing the innovation of the WSI business model as a whole. Overall, Valerie works to ensure WSI Consultants are provided with the tools, systems, and support they need to remain top amongst their competitors.


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