As Google began to use featured snippets heavily in 2019, many SEOs were focusing on this topic and trying to make their content featured. This may change dramatically in 2020.

Google announced that the websites having featured snippet spot, will not be listed (again) in the first page of Google search results!

This may significantly change the way SEOs perceive featured snippets.

What was the search results like, before and after the update?

Before this update, a website may have more than one spot on the search results page: one as featured snippet and one as a search listing (as you see on the visual below).

After the update, if the featured snippet stays, the website is dropped from search listing.

So, the site website ranking at the second spot, will be presented in the first spot (but still, it will be below the featured snippet).

What is the CTR (click through rate) of Featured Snippets and Organic Listings?

This figure may change obviously depending on the nature of the search.

You may think that featured snippets get the most of the clicks as they are presented at the top of the page. Well, this is not the case.

Ahrefs’ Study Of 2 Million Featured Snippets found out that featured snippets get significantly less clicks compared to #1 position on SERP.

When there’s a featured snippet at the #1 position, it only gets ~8.6% of clicks (on average), while the page that ranks right below it will get ~19.6% of clicks (on average).

How does it compare to a regular #1 ranking page with no featured snippet above it? That page will get ~26% of all clicks.

Looks Like Knowledge Panel, But It Is Organic Listing!

Look at the screenshot below.

Where do you think is the #1 organic listing?

A hint: It is not freetattoodesigns.org.

It is actually tattoo.com, at the right hand side of the page. It is hard to find and users usually do not look for the best result there.

The most likely result will be a decrease in organic traffic.

How can you see which one is really the first result in SERP?

Just add &num=9 at the end of the SERP url, you’ll see your real rank.

So regarding the tattoo designs, the URL is :

https://www.google.com/search?q=tattoo+designs&oq=tatt&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j0j69i57j0l4j69i60.1147j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Now add &num=9 at the end of the URL :

https://www.google.com/search?q=tattoo+designs&oq=tatt&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j0j69i57j0l4j69i60.1147j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8add%20&num=9

And you will see the page as:

How Is The Search Performance Affected by Featured Snippet Update?

Glenn Gabe (Digital Marketing Consultant at G-Squared Interactive) provided clear evidence that there is significant decrease in click through rate.

His comment is straightforward:

Users are clearly not clicking the right side featured snippet as much as the core organic result.

Many SEOs agree with this outcome.

Some SEOs point out that the website (having feaured snippet) has a listing at the top of the second page. Google SearchLiaison says:

“Some have noted that a deduplicated URL may appear on the second page of results. This is not a guaranteed position, nor by design, nor might it stay that way. Deduplication does not purposefully move the deduplicated URL to the second page…. “

Some Comments on Featured Snippet Update

Tim Soulo from Ahrefs says:

“I guess from now on the SEO best practice would be to NOT rank in the Featured Snippet so that to retain your regular listing on the front page of SERP instead. “

Rand Fiskin says:

“Can’t help but wonder if there’ll be some cases where SEO is done to remove the featured snippet but maintain the organic ranking (since feat. snippets can cannibalize CTR). Probably an edge case, but still… “

Kristine Schachinger says:

“So here is the BIG issue with this. Having worked with large enterprise sites who got the 0 and the 1 slot, so I could see the traffic. The 0 slot (featured snippet) is ALWAYS lower than the 1 by a lot. So why would I want to rank in the FS anymore? The 1 spot would be better. “

Should You Use Featured Snippets After All?

As this is a very recent update, the picture is a little fuzzy at the moment. This means you have to pay attention and monitor the results closely.

The initial results indicate possible loss for webpages ranking at #1 on SERP and having featured snippet.

Users may be treating featured snippets as information boxes or ad space and may be reluctant to click on those results. They may be looking for organic listings on the page to click.

This may mean that pages having #2 spot on SERP may gain from this update and increase their organic traffic.

Having two spots on the search results page was obviously beneficial for the websites and the recent update may decrease the appetite for featured snippets.

My suggestion is to monitor the results for some more time and do not rush to remove featured snippets.

This is important especially for the pages you are having #1 position on SERP.

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Koray Odabasi is the author of Digital Marketing Strategies Book.

Selected as one of the “Best Digital Marketing & SEO Books of All Time” by Book Authority, you may read the first chapter here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1793365865

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