Good morning, the search results page is getting shook up once again.

Before we even had time to get over favicons in the desktop search results, Google has announced that listings that earn featured snippets will not repeat on the first results page; it justified the change by saying it declutters the results. Featured snippet owners now have one fewer URL in the top results, and those who don’t own featured snippets have one fewer organic listing to compete with — at least, on the first page.

The company also stated that the regular listing that corresponds to the featured snippet may or may not appear as the top result on the second page. “We have not seen any URLs used within a Featured Snippet that are not ranking organically at the first position on page 2,” Mordy Oberstein, CMO for search analytics company Rank Ranger, told Search Engine Land. “While we have not completed our analysis, we are heavy into it and so far all URLs are at the top of page 2.” If you own a featured snippet, keep an eye on how the change affects your traffic and impressions and tell me what you notice; you can DM me @geochingu.

Another thing that’s disappearing from the search results page: “ads” and “sponsored” labels in flight listings. Google is no longer charging partners for referral links on Google Flights. A company spokesperson said that flight search results will continue to be ranked on the basis of price and convenience. Providing users with the most relevant flights is in Google’s best interest as it continues to make itself a preferred travel destination through its tools and content, which will also make Google My Business participation even more important for those marketing to travelers.

“Google’s not trying to stop anybody clicking through to anywhere. If I want the weather forecast, why shouldn’t I just see it? Why would I have to click any further — just make sure you’re the one providing the answer,” said Mike Grehan, CMO and managing director for search marketing agency Acronym, during his chat with Search Engine Land’s own Barry Schwartz. The two search veterans discussed the importance of intent, the ways AI and machine learning are impacting organic and paid search and just how far the industry has come over the last 25 years. Watch the full video here.

Does your wishlist of GMB improvements match Joy Hawkins’? Keep on reading for that, as well as your daily Search Shorts and more.

George Nguyen,
Associate Editor


A wishlist of improvements for GMB in 2020

There were a LOT of changes in the Local SEO world in 2019 – 94 that I’ve tracked. I have to first give Google credit for working so hard to improve the Google My Business product so much. That being said, there are definitely still some items that I think are in drastic need of change.

Here are the top 5 things I’d like GMB to update or change in 2020.

  1. Customization inside GMB Insights.
  2. Add Questions and Answers to the GMB dashboard.
  3. Make event posts show chronologically.
  4. Make service areas in Google My Business actually impact ranking.
  5. I’d love Google My Business to devote more resources to stopping known spammers.

Joy Hawkins is a Google My Business Top Contributor and owner of Sterling Sky 


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Search Shorts

Microformats live on, for now...

.gov TLDs and Google.  Google does not have a ranking signal that says .gov TLDs should rank better than other TLDs, said John Mueller of Google.

Hidden text. Google’s John Mueller said on Reddit “a site is not going to outrank your site just because of hidden text.” He also added: “Inversely, just having hidden text on a page won’t get the site banned from Google.”

Microformats support.  Yes, Google still supports microformats as markup for Google rich results, said Google’s John Mueller on Twitter.


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What we're reading

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5 Key Factors that Impact the Pacing of Your Ad Spend – WordStream

Google Ads Trademark Policies: What You Need To Know – PPC Hero

Google Sending Schema Deprecation Notices – Search Engine Roundtable

How To Make The Best Google Disavow File In The World – Ignite Visibility

Iterate your way to success with A/B testing – Google Blog

Learn Python for SEO – Majestic Blog

SEO vs. SEM: What’s the Difference and Why Should You Care? – Ahrefs

Why SEO ranking factors are category-specific w/ Jordan Koene – Kevin Indig

Yoast SEO 12.9: Google Preview and more fixes – Yoast