Featured snippets: are they worth your time?

Increasing revenue is a main priority for any business owner. So, when a Google update can stop this from happening, we want you to know about it.

Featured snippets have been a great way to gain extra exposure, clicks and conversions since 2014. However, a recent algorithm update has meant a choice between the snippet itself and your organic ranking.

So, the question is are featured snippets worth your time? The answer may surprise you…

In an effort to declutter the search results… and to ensure that people in the SEO industry have their fingers on the pulse, Google announced an update on twitter on the 22nd Jan:

“If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search results. This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily. Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show.”

– Danny Sullivan

Google began the “deduplication process” meaning that it’s no longer possible to leverage a featured snippet and also rank organically on the first page of results.

Instead, websites will retain the featured snippet and lose their organic ranking. A drop in rankings could result in a decline in website clicks and ultimately, conversions. This means that it’s more important than ever to understand your website’s position on the SERPs.

What does this mean for my website traffic?

In 2019, featured snippets sat in #0 at the top of Google’s organic results – underneath the paid advertisements. By ranking in 1st position and also having a featured snippet, websites were once able to dominate the SERPs and receive a 30% click-through rate.

Fast forward to February 2020 and these very same websites are much worse off. Studies show that 30% of the clicks for a search query are attributed to a featured snippet and the 1st organic ranking, with the organic ranking accounting for the majority of clicks (22%). This means that only 8% of the clicks for a search query are attributed to the featured snippet.

A study by SEOClarity has revealed that 95% of the queries that were listed in the featured snippet also ranked organically in the top 3 positions. Meaning that hundreds, if not thousands of websites will have felt the blow of this January update. So, the question is whether it is a good thing now to own a featured snippet over an organic listing.

Example: a Google search for "School trips to London"

Before the update:

school trips to london 2

After the update:

school trips to london

Are featured snippets still worth owning after the January update?

Having a featured snippet could mean excellent exposure for your website, and in some cases, this could result in more clicks.

However, this isn’t always the case, as some searchers may be trained to scroll past the “Google clutter”, such as paid advertisements and answer boxes; featured snippets that provide detailed answers have therefore resulted in an increase of “0-click searches.” This is where users don’t have any incentive to click through to your website, as you’ve already provided them with the information they need.

If this is the case, then losing a top page organic listing for a featured snippet could be detrimental to your website traffic and could result in a loss of revenue, too.

As with any aspect of SEO, there is no “one size fits all” approach. This means that it’s important to assess your website data first, to assess if this update has damaged your rankings, website traffic or conversions. Before making any changes to your website, understanding how this update has manipulated your data is key.

If you have noticed a drop in traffic and conversions since the update, then this isn’t the end of the world. You can combat this by adding a no-snippet tag to your website’s code so that you can lose the featured snippet and prevent other pages from generating one.

If you lose the featured snippet, you can then determine whether you have more clicks with a regular organic result rather than holding the featured snippet spot.

Moving forward: what to keep in mind

Together, featured snippets and 1st position rankings gave businesses the resources to dominate the CTR for search queries. However, a stand-alone featured snippet could be harmful to the future success of your website.

With the rise of 0-click searches and users simply scrolling past the “Google clutter’ could mean fewer people clicking through to your website – and ultimately fewer conversions and growth in the future.

Before changing your SEO strategy entirely, take the time to understand your website’s position on the SERPs. Identify which pages have a featured snippet and any ranking losses your website has incurred. From here, you can decide to remove featured snippet listings from a particular landing page, or your website entirely.

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