Google has quite a few powerful features, which are pretty easy to take for granted. For example, if you ask Google for something that happened at some point in time, it will give you an answer.
Or, if you want an explanation for some kind of a scientific phenomenon, you can ask Google.
You will most likely get a short answer to whatever it was you asked, in a box, right above the other search results, that resembles a Google answer box. It may also have an image or two, as well as relevant dates, and it might just be a simple paragraph that gives a concise answer to your question.
These answers are known as Google Snippets, and for everyone who’s using the search engine giant, they’re a very welcome addition. Instead of going through a couple of sites trying to find the answer, you have Google direct answers to the exact reply to your question.
Now, you should know that these Google search snippets are stealing some of your organic traffic, and the traffic of any other organically ranked sites. However, that is no reason to panic.
Your site can be optimized so you have it featured in more snippets, and you can even adjust your entire SEO strategy in order to avoid featured snippets completely. They aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon, so you should have some kind of method of handling them.
Our friends from AuthorityHacker wrote a complete guide on how to get Google featured snippets.
With featured snippets, fewer users click on actual websites, and more of them just get their answer from the snippet. And that might influence your SEO campaign. However, many SEOs would confirm that the SERP features on Google can be both a blessing and a curse. If you aren’t featured in a snippet, the site traffic will be significantly cut down. But, if you are, that’s a welcome boost.
The number one goal that Google has is to get the users answers to their search queries, in as little clicks as possible. Therefore, Featured Snippets, or Related Questions, or anything else that works in a similar manner, will cut down the number of clicks on actual sites, just like your own. Unless you’re in one of them.
1. If you want to opt out of the Google Featured Snippet, do the following.
Disabling the Featured Snippet is pretty easy. All you need to do is use the
<meta name="googlebot" content="nosnippet">
tag on your page, and all snippets will be removed, such as those that you might find in the regular search results when you’re looking for something.
2. If, however, you want to keep the snippet, there are two methods.
When you continue using the snippet, there are two methods that you can opt for in order to minimize the traffic loss.
Method 1: Make your definition pretty general, but make sure it is helpful
Method 2: Go for a question-based keyword, that can’t really be answered in a single sentence. This way, if you choose an intricate topic, it will most likely get a ton of traffic in the snippet. Keep in mind, though, that this solution isn’t bulletproof.
You also shouldn’t be afraid of going after the snippet. With the right keyword and topic, you can do wonders with the snippet. These methods can protect your traffic from the Google Snippet. If you disable it, you are aware that you won’t get the traffic you would with a good Featured Snippet.
If you opt for keeping the snippet, you should give the users details that are attractive, and make them open your whole article.
This way, you don’t lose traffic, but instead get even more. If you know how to make use of the Featured Snippet, you can get a lot of traffic to your site. So, the better option here is the second one, where you keep the snippet and make use of the two methods below to get some traffic.
If you think that your blog isn’t that tempting, and using the Featured Snippet can lead it to lose traffic, you can always disable it. However, if you do this, Google will give another site in the Featured Snippet, which, again, costs you traffic. It is your own choice, think about it.
Are the Featured Snippets bad for your SEO campaign?
Not necessarily. Sure, if they steal your organic traffic, and when you consider they’ll become even more important, you might think that they will have a pretty bad impact on your return on investment of the SEO campaign. And you’d be wrong.
Will they increase your traffic by all means?
Not likely. But you should run a test and see what the results are for yourself. There are examples, such as a page being ranked third or lower, for a query, and the query and answer are best suited for the user to learn more. There are some examples, such as when the Featured Snippet gives a direct, to the point answer, and the site is either first or second, where it won’t get you more traffic.
How will they affect CTR on desktop vs mobile?
The cold truth is that these kinds of short and concise answers impact negatively mobile CTR much more than the desktop counterpart. People who want to digest information on the go, want to do so quickly. And, the Featured Snippets will take up a lot of screen real estate on a small device, making them hard to ignore.
Who reaps the benefits of direct answers?
Especially on mobile, Google looks like the straight up winner. Mobile is a pretty important focus area for Google, and every time they add another new element to the SERPs, they get another piece of the cake, all for themselves. It’s a game where Google benefits from keeping the users on Google, then having them visit websites for everything.
Wrapping things up
At the end of the day, you might think that both the users and Google, win in this situation. However, it is Google who comes out as the clear winner here. They get to make a pretty decent profit off of the backs of thousands, if not millions, of site owners and administrators. Getting your content to appear in a Featured Snippet isn’t that easy. That becomes increasingly harder if you have a competitor from the likes of Wikipedia, and you’re just a small website.
Google simply doesn’t stop with their trend of getting users to their search results in less and fewer clicks. From the knowledge graphs to the featured snippets, Google is eager to keep all the users in their own ecosystem. But, where does that put us in the future? We can’t know for sure, but development should be kept an eye on.