Are featured snippets lowering organic clicks?

Is the rise in featured snippets harmful for organic results

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aaronpk/8478394685/

This is a question and a topic which has recently come into the spotlight and from a search perspective is very important. Let’s take a closer look at this…

Firstly, we should establish what featured snippets are. As the name suggests, featured snippets give a summary of information when someone has placed a search into the Google engine. Generally speaking a featured snippet will show:

1) A small insert from a webpage, summarising the answer,

2) The title of the selected page with its URL and,

3) A link to that website.

Type a question like “who is the prime minister” or “when is the next bank holiday” into Google and the first result which will be displayed is likely to show these featured snippets in action. Featured snippets sound good right? There is no denying that they certainly help the searcher because rather than having to sift through potentially loads of websites and information and answer to a concrete question is generally displayed with little effort.

Whilst featured snippets certainly have their place, there is wider concern about potential ‘damage’ this is doing to organic search generally. Some recent studies have come out which show that featured snippets lead to around a 20% reduction in organic clicks. The study also found that there is a direct correlation between the increase in feature snippet visibility and the reduction in organic clicks (perhaps this is obvious from the first statistic anyway!?)

The research went on to show that from a test of over 5,000 keywords, more than half showed a feature snippet response.

The problems?

There are generally two problems here:

A) It would seem that the sites which aren’t shown in the feature snippets results are at a disadvantage.

B) If you have spent a lot of time, money and energy making a great website and it is SEO / ethically friendly, you could potentially be losing out through no fault of your own.

The trend is a little worrying for website owners generally. Of course if you are lucky enough to be displayed as the featured snippet then you have experienced the equivalent of hitting the jackpot, but most do not fall into that category.

Certainly more research (yes more) needs to be done into this, but not to show what we already know, instead to show how organic traffic can lose its benefit in favour of featured snippets, and what can be done to combat this. We predict that the disquiet about this is likely to rise, and it won’t be long before someone tries to find a way around it which ensure the remaining organic results do not miss out.

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