While featured snippets isn’t a new idea within the SEO community, it may be unfamiliar to you. Within our community, it is well-spoken about often. However, with the ever-changing Google environment, particularly with featured snippets, we have to reevaluate its value within the search engine results pages.
For many years, one of the most sought-after positions in search results has been featured snippets because of its reputation for gaining more traffic, clicks and attention than is received elsewhere in Google. For your content being presented twice on page one of your key term – as a snippet and organic listing are referred to as “double-dipping.”
In January 2021, Google announced they would deduplicate and, moving forward, would only show the feature snippet URL once on page one. With this shift in the algorithm, which is common with Google, marketers have begun speculating whether featured snippets is the sought after position that it had been in the past, or whether it had ever been?
Whether value is found in it or not, this feature is here to stay. Moz reports that around 14-15% of Google’s searches result in a featured snippet and look to be increasing. While featured snippets will continue to enhance the user experience and provide precise and direct answers to questions on Google, what does this mean for us as SEO professionals?
Featured Snippets – Are They Still Valuable?
Since the algorithm change, featured snippets are now a double-edged sword. While it is great to have your site featured in Goggle search results and it’s a fantastic user experience, studies have shown that this feature is known to perform worse than other search results because of the amount of initial information it offers.
However, other studies had shown the opposite, notably when the search engine experts at Moz conducted A/B tests on their content featured in snippets. When Moz did their testing, results showed that by gaining traffic by choosing to opt-out of featured snippets, they experienced a 12% drop in website traffic, and therefore ranking below the featured snippet.
What this resulted in is that while opting out of the featured snippets by using the nosnippet tag, there is still uncertainty whether optimising or de optimising is better for SEO or not.
In January 2021, an update was released by Google that affected websites and featured snippets that before this has been featuring in search results. The term “deduplication” refers to featured snippets no longer giving a website double exposure on Google’s first page.
With Google now sorts results, so they only appear once on the first-page results, marketers and SEO experts can no longer use this opportunity to double-dip.
Further Developments in Featured Snippets
In 2017, a study conducted by Ahrefs was one of the most talked-about and discussed. Its results showed that without featured snippets, the first results received an average click-through rate of 26% compared to 19.6% with featured snippets. However, with time considerable changes have been made so this data can no longer be relied upon for accuracy. Recent developments include:
- Taking users to relevant text – In June 2020, a featured snippets update meant that for some, clicking on the URL will ensure the user will be directly taken to content relevant to their search query.
- Featured Snippets Impacted by BERT – BERT, a natural language algorithm, was rolled out in December 2019. Its role is to organise search rankings and feature snippets in 70 languages. In addition, BERT helps Google understand the complexity of language that impacts how the content displays for featured snippets due to various questions and queries.
- Featured Snippets on Sidebar are Folding – The deduplication of featured snippets in January also saw Google announcing that the folding right sidebar featured snippets would be moved to the main panel of search results.
Types of Featured Snippets
In search results, the type of featured snippets depends a lot on whether they are better for SEO than organic listings. The current types you may see in search results include:
- Image Link
Query Answers for Featured Snippets
It’s most commonly misunderstood that featured snippets are the top result ad receives the majority of clicks. While this placement means the content is considered authoritative, that’s about as productive as it gets.
As previously discussed, they tend to get a lower click rate because they are answered thoroughly and quickly without going any further. Some users even think it’s a Google Ad, so don’t click through. If there is no reason for the user to continue, they won’t go any further.
Are Users Clicking on Featured Snippets?
There is no definitive answer to this question because it depends. Determining whether featured snippets or the most wanted #1 position is better than SEO is still unsubstantiated.
While featured snippets provide users with valuable and relevant information and they might be enticed to click through. However, if the snippet has provided a detailed answer, the user is unlikely to click through to the website. If they are inclined to click through, there are many options, including carousel buttons and image links that draw people away from the actual website.
Data retrieved by Moz, however, showed that opting out of featured snippets was of no benefit. In actuality, there was a significant loss in traffic when using the nosnippet tag.
Achieving More Clicks with Featured Snippet
We are confident that there are ways for you to make the most of your featured snippet. Some of the ways to achieve this include:
- Offer further information that sparks curiosity.
- Bullet point lists with over 8 points will prompt users to click through.
- Use relevant pictures directly under the paragraph (Here are some more detailed tips about optimising images for SEO).
- Use a correct ALT tag and schema Markup for Google’s bots to make crawling easier.
If you are already ranking the coveted #1 position, it’s not always worth optimising for a featured snippet. While it is beneficial for many websites, optimisation for featured snippets should occur based on your keyword ranking, click impression, CTR and conversation metrics. You can also get in touch with our professional Sydney SEO team, and we will discuss what we can do to move your online business forward and better.