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Featured Snippets No Longer Appear in Organic Google Results

Good news if you didn’t have the spot, bad news if you did!

Google rolled out a major change to the way it treats Featured Snippets in its search results today and I expect it to have instant (and massive) ramifications for publishers and SEOs globally.

Previously, getting the coveted Featured Snippet spot in search results was the holy grail. The Featured Snippet was generally taken from the top #1 to #3 organic results and so if you were ranked #1 already and managed to get the Featured Snippet (counted as position #0 by many) you would get the top two spots. Of course this would lead to a fantastic CTR and tons of traffic to your property.

The Featured Snippet position in Google

The change introduced by Google today means that if you have the Featured Snippet you will not be eligible to appear in the top 10 spots (i.e. not within the first page of search results).

Clicks from search results are often a zero-sum game and I guess Google figured out this was giving the Featured Snippet site an undue amount of traffic and exposure. It could also be confusing for consumers, seeing the same article/page featured twice in their search results.

I expect this decision will be analyzed for some time to come (it's huge) and if you have a page that was previously ranking for a Featured Snippet affected term, this will obviously have implications for you. The consequences will be positive for those without the Featured Snippet and negative for those with it.

One more change I've noticed is that on desktop search result pages where a site has the right panel also, they too are excluded from the first page of the organic results.

Take the example search for "wordpress hosting" below. WPBeginner.com moved from the panel and the #1 spot to just being in the panel. The right panel is often overlooked by searchers so I am certain this is having very noticeable negative implications for their traffic (and income) courtesy of this particular term. Great news for WordPress.org and the remaining sites on the first page though!

Bad news for WPBeginner.com

Written by Matt

I've been running web hosting servers and building websites for myself using Wordpress for 14 years. My network of sites get a TON of traffic and I use various models to monetize them - mainly display ads and affiliate marketing. Along the way I've picked up hundreds of tips and tricks that I think would be useful for anyone looking to make a website and here is where I'm going to share them. Find me on Twitter too.

9 Comments

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  1. My website has a good amount of featured snippets and I haven’t noticed any traffic hit just yet. Either Google changed their mind very quickly or they are rolling it out slowly. It’s a questionable change, being featured is a punishment and reward it seems. I’d love to hear the reasons for such a drastic change.

    • I think it was always unfair how some sites could get rank "0" plus rank "1", personally, so I like the change. I would say that overall I ended out with a traffic increase as snippets are very hard to obtain (and keep) in my niches

  2. If I’m understanding this correctly, it is still very good to have your website in the featured snippet box? Not also appearing again on the first page doesn’t seem like much of an issue, I imagine the featured snippet has amazing CTR’s. I also tested the same “WordPress hosting” search term you did and the right box isn’t even there. Who knows what they are doing.

  3. I’ve been using a keyword tracking plugin for WordPress for a long time and I always assumed position “0” means unranked, now I know it means the page is featured. That’s awesome for me, I have quite a few at rank 0. I know this is 2 months old now, but I haven’t noticed any major increase or drop in traffic.

    • Nice! And yes, rank #0 is kind of counter-intuitive, but since we already had a rank #1 when Google introduced featured snippets in the first place, I guess that's why it's called rank #0

  4. The featured snippet is already far more visible than the rest of the results anyway, so this change makes sense to me. I also wish they would stop showing results from the same website more back to back, one of my websites is technically the 2nd highest ranked website for a keyword but only displays in the 5th position. Very annoying.

  5. I’m not sure how I feel about this change, it seems fair I guess? It makes sense to convert current #1 listings into a featured snippet provided they have added the markup and it can be displayed properly. I’ve been trying to get featured for quite some time but no luck just yet.

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