A search marketer in India noticed what looked like a test in Featured Snippet. One search marketer called it “shady as hell.” But according to a statement from a Google spokesperson, that is a bug and not a feature.
The alleged test involved embedding links to more Google searches from within a website publishers content that is in the featured snippet.
These kinds of links are called Search Refinements. Embedding a search refinement within a featured snippet was not well received from the search community.
This is shady as hell.
— Jeremy Knauff (@jeremyknauff) May 3, 2021
A search refinement is when Google helps users refine their vague searches. Vague searches can mean many things, so restating the search query to be more accurate leads to better search results.
So if someone searches for Lollipop, Google will refine that search to satisfy users who are looking for lyrics to the song, a video of the song or versions of the song by different musical artists.
What Google is testing within the new featured snippet is a variation of search refinement that alters a publishers content so that the links to refined searches are embedded within a publishers web content.
Featured Snippet Bug
In India a search for “Cyber Security Course” results in a featured snippet that has links to additional Google searches within the content from the website that’s displayed in the Featured Snippet.
This may be already there but seeing this first time, on featured snippet now Google adding hyperlinks from the text to google search for the related terms.
In the screenshot, cloud, cloud security, and cybersecurity are linked to the google search page.
cc – @rustybrick pic.twitter.com/2RFhfVwHSR
— Ramesh Singh (@ramesh_s_bisht) May 3, 2021
The tweet about it was not well received in the search community.
I was able to replicate it by switching to an Indian IP and indeed there were links to other Google searches embedded within the featured snippet.
Google Confirms Embedded Links in Featured Snippets is a Bug
I reached out to Google to inquire about what was going on and they emailed back to let us know.
It turns out that this is not a test. It is a bug.
According to a Google spokesperson:
“We can confirm that this is a bug and is not intended behavior for links on featured snippets. We are actively working on a fix.”
Bug in Google Search
A bug in programming is when something unintentional happens. The process of identifying what is wrong and fixing it is called debugging.
For awhile there many people thought this was an actual test and it kind of says something about how the search community feels in that many easily believed that Google would test such a thing.