Google: Expect more simplification of Search results

The removal of SERP features like HowTo and FAQ rich results are a trend SEOs should watch, according to Google's Gary Illyes.

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The removal of HowTo and FAQ rich results from Google Search is not in anticipation of the full launch of the Google Search Generative Experience, according to Google’s Gary Illyes. 

There has been some speculation by some SEOs that Google removed certain features due to the shift to AI-powered answers in SGE. Illyes said that is not the goal, adding that it frees up Google to experiment with “other things.” 

  • “The ultimate goal is not for AI. It is to make results that look clean. We’re not freeing up space for x or y,” he said today at Pubcon Pro in Austin.

Search results simplification. One of the three key points of emphasis in Illyes’ keynote was that Google has been removing SERP features that Google users didn’t use or find useful. That include the change to video thumbnails in April and then the recent removal of HowTo rich results and heavily reduced visibility of FAQ rich results. 

Much of the discussion around Google SGE of late, and CEO Sundar Pichai’s vision for the future of Google, seems to be evolving away from the idea of 10 blue links in the next decade. Though Illyes pointed out those 10 blue links have been the only stable element on the SERPs over the past 25 years of Google’s existence.

Illyes also noted Google launches lots of “shiny things” that SEOs focused too much attention and too many resources on (e.g., Core Web Vitals). He advised being careful about planning on a long-lasting strategy around search features.

  • “You want to rely on 10 blue links,” Illyes said. 

You can do that by writing like a human would and including associations within your content, Illyes said.

Why we care. It will be interesting to see if Google continues to remove more SERP features this year. He made a point to tell the audience to pay attention to this one in particular.

Content is king? As Google has done for 25 years, Illyes emphasized that the key to success is “publishing original, helpful content created for people.” 

While content is “royalty,” Illyes said it’s important that you convince people to realize you are trustworthy and an authority on your topics. You may have some short-term success writing on basic “top of the funnel” topics, but it is not sustainable.

About the author

Danny Goodwin
Danny Goodwin has been Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & Search Marketing Expo - SMX since 2022. He joined Search Engine Land in 2022 as Senior Editor. In addition to reporting on the latest search marketing news, he manages Search Engine Land’s SME (Subject Matter Expert) program. He also helps program U.S. SMX events.

Goodwin has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in search and digital marketing since 2007. He previously was Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal (from 2017 to 2022), managing editor of Momentology (from 2014-2016) and editor of Search Engine Watch (from 2007 to 2014). He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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