Featured Snippets No Longer Appear in Organic Google Results

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.

Rotten Tomatoes has the featured snippet for “top 10 movies”

The change introduced by Google today means that if you have the Featured Snippet you will not be eligible to appear in the other top 10 spots (ie nowhere else 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 (having the snippet plus another spot in the top 10). 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 and if you have a page that was previously ranking for a Featured Snippet affected term, it 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.

By Sean Robinson

My name is Sean Robinson and I’ve been building and running my own blogs and websites since 2004, and have been doing it full-time for over a decade. If you'd like to know more about my story, please click here.

9 comments

  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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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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