Have you noticed that embedded links have appeared in Google’s featured snippets? You’re not alone. After a marketing professional in India noticed the links appearing in search results, Google confirmed that this is NOT a new feature. It is simply a bug.
The “bug” had embedded links within a website’s content that were included in a featured snippet. This kind of link is known as a search refinement.
A search refinement is when Google suggests a different search query when a user’s search is considered too vague. Vague searches can have multiple meanings, so rephrasing search terms can help users get better search results.
Here is a helpful example provided by Search Engine Land:
“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.”
Why this Bug is Stirring Controversy
The bug was first discovered by a marketing professional in India, who noticed links to additional Google searches within the content from the website that was displayed in the Featured Snippet shown in his search results for “cyber security courses.”
The idea of embedding a search refinement within a featured snippet was widely criticized within the search community, with one marketer describing it as “shady as hell.”
This is shady as hell.
— Jeremy Knauff (@jeremyknauff) May 3, 2021
The reason for this is that when the embedded links are clicked on, it sends the searcher to a new set of search results without them realizing that this is what would happen. It is essentially a “secret” query refinement feature.
After the discovery was not well-received, a Google spokesperson responded with the following statement:
“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.”
So, there you have it. Those who were concerned about this becoming a permanent feature can rest easy knowing search refinements in featured snippets are not here to stay.