Google Changed Featured Snippets and People Don’t Want Them Anymore

A giant collective “oh snap” was muttered from the SEO community this week. Google confirmed a major change. 

This is actually a pretty big deal. Any time there is absolutely any change to the way Google’s SERPs are displayed, it is a very literal shift to the SEO landscape.

Let’s break down what exactly changed and who this is poised to impact.

What Happened

Think way back to 2019. Back then, your webpage could have ranked for the so-called zero position as a featured snippet, which actually appeared before the #1 ranked organic result. BUT, you could also rank as high as #1 for the same page below your snippet.

So, you could actually have two results on the front page of Google. This was an SEO right-left combo that meant you could actually claim as much as 30% of the clicks (more on those numbers later).

However, last week it was discovered and confirmed that Google would no longer display “duplicate” results in the SERPs. Meaning, if you have the zero position and the featured snippet, your domain could not rank again on the first page in any position for that query.

This change led to a lot of current snippet owners saying, “Well. Dammit.”

Why This is a Big Deal

This is a big-ass-deal for two main reasons.

The first reason is obviously that this change could basically free up one more position on the always-hotly-contested first page of Google. It means someone likely just got promoted from Page 2 to Page 1. As any professional SEO consultant will tell you, this would mean and absolutely massive boost, because traffic drops by 95% from Page 1 to Page 2

The second reason is that this is a huge loss for people who owned the snippet and an organic result. The truth of the matter is that the snippet position alone is not nearly as desirable from a click-through rate (CTR) perspective.

The snippet + organic result combo was deadly and a big SEO/CTR win, regardless of which organic result you captured in addition to the zero position. Now, however, just having the snippet position means a big hit and likely losing the higher value position of the two you previously held.

In fact, early data is showing these “duplicate results” being distributed all over the top 10 results.

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Only 28% have claimed the #2 position in the SERPs.

A lot of people are now asking if they can have their snippets removed from Google. Here’s why.

Do I Even Want a Snippet Position?

The zero position is definitely the most controversial and maligned. There are some in the SEO community who feel this position is the illusion of success or fool’s gold.

The data proves that top-billing in this regard doesn’t yield top results. In fact, ahref’s studied millions of results and discovered that the zero position (or the actual snippet) only receives 8.6% of clicks for SERPs that contain a snippet, while the top organic result gets 19.6% of the clicks.

The top organic result gets over a quarter of the clicks when there is no snippet present.

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As you can see, there is a lot at stake. And, if a company owned both the snippet space and the #1 spot, they could theoretically tap into nearly 30% of the clicks. Now, with just the snippet, that number drops back to 8.6%.

The main issue that a lot of SEO consultants see here is that the snippet result is actually set up to end the searcher’s journey with no click at all. The user has a question, they Google it, and they could get their answer from the snippet’s small box without having to click anywhere. Journey over, problem solved.

Snippets Could Hurt a Business

As we said, these snippets are controversial. Some actually claim that snippets killed their business.

We explored this in another blog about Google’s snippets. The website is pointing the finger of blame directly at Google for killing their business. The owner of the site says that Google approached them directly in 2014 and asked to scrape their data for knowledge graph. They said no, and Google started running snippet results for celebrity net income related queries 2 years later.

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Again, the user’s question has been answered, so there is theoretically no need for them to click any deeper. Celebritynetworth’s traffic plummeted as a result.

So, these snippets could be very bad for your business, if your income is largely dependent on informational queries and people getting their answers on your site.

Snippets Could Help Your Business

Of course, there are also people who would argue that this is valuable space, if your end-goal isn’t clicks or traffic. This could be a big win from a thought- leadership perspective.

Let’s say you Google “Are carrots keto.”

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This is not a purchase-driven query. So, you could make the argument that it’s a win for Health Magazine to own this space over sites like Men’s Health, Perfect Keto or Healthline. They are positioned as the de facto answer for this question.

Google’s Danny Sullivan also said that, “Featured snippets drive a lot of traffic. That’s why people often optimize for them. They also often tend to elevate pages that were further down the page to top position.”

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However, he added that snippets aren’t being forced on anyone, and you can remove them if you like.

Can I Remove My Site From Snippets?

You may now be saying, “Well I would much rather have the top organic spot and skip the snippet.” A lot of people are.

Yes, you can remove your site from any snippet SERPs by doing the following:

Step #1: Find ALL of Your Snippets

You want to be aware of all of the queries you’re currently showing up for.

The easiest way to do this is by using a tool like ahrefs. Use their Site Explorer tool and use the “Features” filter for the list of keywords.

Now you can see what you’re working with.

Step 2: Add a Nosnippet Tag

Follow the steps that Google has provided to add the appropriate nosnippet tag to your content.

Repeat this for all the pages on your site that are currently showing up for snippet results. Of course, if you don’t have time to do this, you should hire a professional SEO consultant to do it for you, and stay on top of all your snippets and the keywords you’re ranking for.

However, there is no guarantee that this page will simply move from the zero position right into the top organic results. It could, but there is no guarantee.

Parting Thoughts

As you can see, these zero positions in the SERPs may or may not help your business.

If you’re fighting the war for SEO space, pursuing featured snippets for your longtail keywords may not really be worth your time for 3 reasons:

1. They’re difficult to get, requiring a considerable amount of structure and optimization
2. If you do show up for one, you may be showing up for a lot of searchers out of your area
3. The data shows a lower click-through rate for this position

However, it is definitely important for all business owners to know where they currently stand and rank for all of their crucial keywords.

If you don’t have time to track these things yourself (most don’t), I’d be happy to talk to you about it! Feel free to call me at the phone number at the top of the page.

About the Author

Paul Teitelman - SEO Consultant

Paul is a well-respected Canadian SEO consultant and link-building expert with over 15 years of experience helping hundreds of companies rank for competitive keywords on Google. He is a Toronto-based SEO consultant who is passionate about search engine optimization and link building. Over the years, he has made a reputation for himself as a leader in the industry by consistently delivering phenomenal results to his growing client base.