Published on Found June 17, 2019 (Greg Jacobs)
This is the part of the article that cites Jason Barnard’s work:
So it’s only natural that how Google decides which of its many SERP features to show has been a hot topic in the SEO world, and one interesting theory (with some evidence from Google to back it up) is Darwinism in search. According to The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard), it’s survival of the fittest for Google’s search features.
When it comes to how SERP features like featured snippets and image boxes are changing for different search queries, the most recent information from Google suggests that Darwinism in the search results is behind this. The theory is that all SERP features such as featured snippets and image packs are individually ranked for each query based on scores known as ‘bids’ for a chance to display on the first page for each query. These features can and have been for quite some time squeezing out the standard blue links, sometimes to a dramatic extent.
It’s suggested that this process is Darwinian in nature – the SERPs evolve as the scoring algorithms evolve, and SERP features really do compete with each other in a similar way to animal species’. So in the future, we’ll probably see the fluctuations in the types of SERP features settling down a bit as the algorithms start to get really close to understanding user intent i.e. the environment, excepting of course the new SERP features which are added to facilitate new devices.
This post from Jason Barnard on SEJ goes into the theory in more detail and is well worth a read.