Opting-Out of Google Featured Snippets Led to 12% Traffic Loss [SEO Experiment]

Note: This publish was co-authored by Cyrus Shepard and Rida Abidi.

Everyone desires to win Google featured snippets. Right?

At least, it used to be that approach. Winning the featured snippet sometimes meant additional visitors, partially as a result of Google confirmed your URL twice: as soon as within the featured snippet and once more in common search outcomes. For publishers, this was referred to as “double-dipping.”

All that modified in January when Google introduced they’d de-duplicate search outcomes to present the featured snippet URL solely as soon as on the primary web page of outcomes. No extra double-dips.

Publishers anxious as a result of older research steered successful featured snippets drove much less precise visitors than the “natural” prime rating outcome. With the brand new change, successful the featured snippet would possibly really now lead to much less visitors, no more.

This led many SEOs to speculate: must you opt-out of featured snippets altogether? Are featured snippets inflicting publishers to lose extra visitors than they probably achieve? 

Here’s how we discovered the reply.

The experiment

Working with the workforce at SearchPilot, we devised an A/B cut up take a look at experiment to take away Moz Blog posts from Google featured snippets, and measure the impression on visitors.

Using Google’s data-nosnippet tag, we recognized weblog pages with successful featured snippets and utilized the tag to the primary content material of the web page.

Our working speculation was that these pages would lose their featured snippets and return to the “regular” search outcomes beneath. A majority of us additionally anticipated to see a adverse impression on visitors, however needed to measure precisely how a lot, and establish whether or not the featured snippets would return after we eliminated the tag. 

In this instance, Moz misplaced the featured snippet nearly instantly. The snippet was as an alternative awarded to Content King and Moz returned to the highest “natural” place.

Featured Snippets Experiment

Here is one other instance of what occurred in search outcomes. After launching the take a look at, the featured snippet was awarded to Backlinko and we returned to the highest of the pure outcomes.

Featured Snippets Experiment Examples

One essential factor to take note is that, whereas these key phrases triggered a featured snippet, pages can rank for tons of or hundreds of completely different key phrases in numerous positions. So the impression of dropping a single featured snippet might be considerably softened when your URL ranks for a lot of completely different key phrases — some which earn featured snippets and a few which do not.

The outcomes

After including the data-nosnippet tag, our variant URLs shortly misplaced their featured snippets.

How did this impression visitors? Instead of gaining visitors by opting-out of featured snippets, we discovered we really misplaced a major quantity of visitors fairly shortly.

Overall, we measured an estimated 12% drop in visitors for all affected pages after dropping featured snippets (95% confidence stage).

Featured Snippets Experiment Results
This chart represents the cumulative impression of the take a look at on natural visitors. The central blue line is the most effective estimate of how the variant pages, with the change utilized, carried out in contrast to how we might have anticipated with none modifications utilized. The blue shaded area represents our 95% confidence interval: there’s a 95% likelihood that the precise consequence is someplace on this area. If this area is wholly above or beneath the horizontal axis, that represents a statistically vital take a look at.

What did we be taught?

With the addition of the “data-nosnippet” attribute, the take a look at had a considerably adverse impression on natural visitors. In this experiment, proudly owning the featured snippet and never rating within the prime outcomes gives extra worth to these pages in phrases of clicks than not proudly owning the featured snippet and rating within the prime outcomes.

Adding within the “data-nosnippet” attribute, not solely had been we in a position to cease Google from pulling knowledge in that part of the HTML web page to use as a snippet, however we had been additionally in a position to verify that we might rank once more within the SERP, whether or not that’s rating in place one or decrease.

As a further device, we had been additionally monitoring key phrases utilizing STAT Search Analytics. We had been in a position to monitor modifications in rating for pages that had featured snippets, and observed that it took about seven days or extra from the time of launching the take a look at for Google to cache the modifications we made and for the featured snippets to be overtaken by one other rating web page, if one other web page was awarded a featured snippet spot in any respect. The turnaround was faster after we ended the take a look at, although, as some of these featured snippets returned as shortly as the subsequent day.

However, a adverse facet of operating this take a look at was that, though some pages had been crawled and listed with the newest modifications, the featured snippet didn’t return and has now both been formally given to competing pages or by no means returned in any respect.

To summarize the numerous findings of this take a look at:

  1. Google’s nosnippet tags can successfully opt-out publishers from featured snippets.
  2. In this take a look at, we measured an estimated 12% drop in visitors for all affected pages after dropping featured snippets.
  3. After ending the take a look at, we failed to win again a portion of the featured snippets we beforehand ranked for.

For the overwhelming majority of publishers successful the featured snippet possible stays the sensible technique. There are undoubtedly exceptions however as a common “best practice” if a key phrase triggers a featured snippet, it is sometimes in your finest curiosity to rank for it.

What are your experiences with successful featured snippets? Let us know within the feedback beneath.

Join Moz website positioning Scientist, Dr. Pete Meyers, Wednesdays in April at 1:30 p.m. PT on Twitter and ask your most urgent questions about how to navigate website positioning modifications and challenges in a COVID-19 world. Tweet your questions all week lengthy to @Moz utilizing the hashtag #AsokayMoz. 

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