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24 January 2020 / Opinion

Featured Snippets: What's happened?

Malcolm Slade / Director of SEO

The change

As of 22nd January, Google has changed the way it handles featured snippets or what we might call position 0 results. Previously, a website that held a featured snippet was also able to rank well for that term; in fact a page 1 ranking was required for a featured snippet. Now, Google has decided that if you own the featured snippet, that URL is not able to rank for the term.

Why is this important?

Featured snippets affect click through rates. A study by AHREFs found that the first organic result would gain 26% of the available clicks. If a featured snippet was introduced, the snippet would gain 8.6% of the clicks and the first organic result would gain 19.6% of the clicks. So, owning the featured snippet and the first organic result would be a slight boon for click through rate.

Now, the 28.2% of clicks you would receive for owning the featured snipped and the first organic ranking would fall to 8.6%. If you were second you would fall from 17.2% to 8.6%, third would drop from 12.1% to 8.6%, fourth would be 9.8% to 8.6% and 5th would be no different. This means that ranking anywhere from first to fourth would generate more clicks than having the featured snippet so, in theory, if you did rank in the top 4 prior to this update you may actually be better off not having the featured snippet.

In addition, FAQ enhancements are only triggered on page 1 results so FAQ enhancements and featured snippets are mutually exclusive as rankings are currently appearing at the top of page 2 for URLs that have the featured snippet (these page 2 results may disappear over time according to Google). Finally, this change is URL based so you can still have the featured snippet and first page ranking if 2 pages cover the same topic well enough.

What are we doing?

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the data to see the impact of this change, and once we identify any trends, we will create tests accordingly. We’ll be updating this post with our thoughts and findings, so watch this space.

In the meantime, Twitter user Kevin Richard highlighted a way to see where you would rank if you didn’t have the featured snippet by appending &num=9 to the end of the Google URL: https://twitter.com/512banque/status/1220285974988697601


https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-web-pages-in-featured-snippets-not-repeated-in-organic-listings/344748/ https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6229325?hl=en https://ahrefs.com/blog/featured-snippets-study/