Have you ever looked something up on Google and found an article that was featured in the search results? That featured article is known as a “snippet.” Google created this feature in 2014 becoming one of the biggest SERP changes to happen in a decade or more. Google signaled to the world that it wanted to reward content that was useful to consumers searching different topics. Marketing professionals began changing the way that they looked at SEO because of snippets and they haven’t looked back.
Google Snippets in 2020.
We have to go back to 2020 for a minute to understand a big change Google made to their snippet feature. Between 2014-2019 if your content was featured as a snippet your website was also still eligible for the organic search results on the searched topic or keywords. In January of 2020 Google eliminated that redundancy announcing that ” if a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat it in the first page of results.” Meaning that for the website hosting the featured snippet, their listing in the organic results is no longer eligible. They have to pick either the featured snippet or the organic result, they can’t have both.
What was the reason? Google came out and said that this change “declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily.” My personal theory is that they needed to keep search result space free to sell us ads, and if they eliminated one of the top organic results, it freed up space to do so.
It also tells me that content is still king.
People want to find what they are looking for and the snippets allow companies to answer people’s questions. To me that is the ideal way to get people to your website, be the answer they are looking for when they have the problem. Sales tactic 101 have customers find you when they need you to solve a problem they are having right now. Generally speaking you can’t go wrong with being the featured snippet for this reason in my personal opinion.
Google’s AI is evolving and we should too in 2021
Companies were left scrambling after this major shift changing the way that Google Snippets changed organic search results. There are entire blogs about how developers can help their clients “opt-out” of feature snippets in response to losing their coveted first page organic results. In fact, Google gives developers “special tags” that signal to Google how to interpret the data on a specific page. So why do developers use them? Website developers use the tags that Google provides in the header of your website. By identifying different tags, Google can determine what you want them to do with your website regarding different elements. Some useful examples include ratings for adult content that may not be suitable for children so that a site cannot be accessed using the “Safe Search” feature. Another useful tag may tell Google that you don’t want them to feature different site links to your website. Basically you have a bit of control when it comes to asking Google what to show in search results and what not to.
Is it important to use tags for your website? It depends on what your website does, and how you want your traffic directed. This is a conversation you should have with your web developer and the answer is going to be different depending on your business and what you use your website for.
Should you Opt-Out of Google Snippets in 2021?
We have talked about featured snippets, and the benefits it can bring to your customers. We have also talked about how that featured snippet typically appears above the first organic search results. However, featured snippets can appear in other positions on the first page too. Is this something that you generally want for your website, or should you opt-out of Google Snippets in 2021?
In 2021 SERPs (search engine results pages) still contain the 10 standard organic listings alongside the featured snippet on desktop search results. However there is only one featured snippet. Most marketers are looking at the featured snippet as a win for organic search because it generally is featured because the user asked a specific question that your content was flagged for as having relative keywords and phrases.
Here is the problem that many people are having with being the Google Featured Snippet:
In a study of 2 MILLION featured snippets, conducted by the Ahrefs company, it was concluded that featured snippets get a lower the average CTR (Click Through Rate) for end users. Ahrefs concluded that in general the first natural organic result had a higher CTR of about 19.6%. The featured snippet result was found to have lower than a 9% CTR. What does this actually mean for websites? That the featured snippet does not always perform as well as the organic Google’s search result.
So do you panic? My answer is NO. First, just because someone clicks on your organic result does not mean that the want to actually be on your website. If you have a high bounce rate it means that people come to your site and immediately leave. Why do they do this? Either it wasn’t the result they were expecting, they clicked it on accident, or they simply realized the page Google took them to did not have relevance to them. That doesn’t mean that a lower CTR means a loss of customers. It could simply mean that you are getting higher quality clicks. The only way to determine that is to really dive into your analytics. See what your top pages were, see how long a user is on your website, and quantify results with trackable results.
Still want to opt out of featured snippets? Google tells you how.
There are two ways that you can opt out of featured snippets and here is how Google tells you to do it directly from their developer tools. We do not recommend you do this yourself. In fact, we encourage everyone to work with their web developer to implement this change to your website. Again, unless you are really good websites, ask for help on this one to make sure you do it right… Please… Pretty please. You can read the full article HERE:
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