Google appears to be showing Featured Snippets (the answer box at the top of search results) in fewer and fewer searches starting on October 27th, 2017. MozCast, a service that tracks 10,000 search queries and shows the 30-day trend of SERP features, began tracking a reduction in Featured Snippets dropping 12.3% from being included in around 16.2% of SERPs to 14.2% of as of writing.
During that same time frame other SERP Features increased their visibility in Google searches indicating a possible test by Google or a change in how they might display certain queries. Knowledge Panels, Local Packs, and Related Questions are all SERP Features that have gained visibility during the time that Featured Snippets has dropped.
Knowledge Panels saw the biggest jump in SERPs going from about 45.2% to 60.1%, a jump of 32.96%. Related Questions moved up 21.37% from 27.6% to 33.5%. Local Packs made the smallest adjustment going up only 6.33% from 22.1% to 23.5% visibility.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN GOOGLE?
It would appear that Google is either running a test or simply reducing the amount of Featured Snippets shown to users. Either way it’s an interesting change to keep an eye on due to the large increase of Knowledge Panels versus the drop in Featured Snippets. If you’re currently working toward featured snippets based on older research you might want to check those SERPs again just in case things have shifted.
Here’s the full MozCast SERP Features as seen at the time of writing (November 20th, 2017)