Google rolled out a major change to the way it treats Featured Snippets in its search results today and I expect it to have instant (and massive) ramifications for publishers and SEOs globally.
Previously, getting the coveted Featured Snippet spot in search results was the holy grail. The Featured Snippet was generally taken from the top #1 to #3 organic results and so if you were ranked #1 already and managed to get the Featured Snippet (counted as position #0 by many) you would get the top two spots. Of course this would lead to a fantastic CTR and tons of traffic to your property.
The change introduced by Google today means that if you have the Featured Snippet you will not be eligible to appear in the other top 10 spots (ie nowhere else within the first page of search results).
If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search 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.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) January 22, 2020
Clicks from search results are often a zero-sum game and I guess Google figured out this was giving the Featured Snippet site an undue amount of traffic and exposure (having the snippet plus another spot in the top 10). It could also be confusing for consumers, seeing the same article/page featured twice in their search results.
I expect this decision will be analyzed for some time to come and if you have a page that was previously ranking for a Featured Snippet affected term, it will obviously have implications for you. The consequences will be positive for those without the Featured Snippet and negative for those with it.
One more change I’ve noticed is that on desktop search result pages where a site has the right panel also, they too are excluded from the first page of the organic results.