Looks like featured snippets could be on the way out.
According to a new report by Moz, the number of search engine results pages (SERPs) with featured snippets dropped dramatically in February.
Is this the beginning of a trend?
In this article, I’ll go over what we know about featured snippets falling away.
Featured Snippets Experience First Noticeable Drop in Years
MozCast measured a whopping 40% day-over-day decrease in featured snippets appearances on February 19.
That decline never recovered. This doesn’t appear to be a blip on the radar.
So to answer the question I posed at the beginning of this article: yes, this could very well be the beginning of a trend.
Moz claims that this is the lowest prevalence rate of featured snippets since they began recording data in 2015.
Oh, by the way: Moz isn’t alone. Other search trackers clocked the same precipitous downfall of featured snippets as well.
In other words, it’s not a bug in Moz’s software that’s causing the readout.
And yes, the drop appears on both desktop and mobile platforms. However, mobile dropped only 9% day-over-day on February 19.
But that was after a 12% drop on February 10.
Industries Hit Hardest
Which industries got hit the hardest with the change in featured snippet appearances? It looks like the YMYL categories (Your Money, Your Life) got pounded. YMYL categories are those that could potentially greatly impact someone’s future in terms of their happiness, health, financial stability, or even their safety.
Here’s a breakdown of the change in featured snippet appearances as of Feb. 19:
- Health: -68%
- Finance: -60%
- Hobbies and Leisure: -42%
- Jobs and Education: -39%
- Family and Community: -36%
- Beauty and Personal Care: -34%
- Internet and Telecom: -32%
- Computers and Electronics: -32%
- Law and Government: -32%
- Home and Garden: -31%
- Real Estate: -31%
- Dining and Nightlife: -28%
- Apparel: -27%
- Travel and Tourism: -25%
- Vehicles: -25%
- Retailers and Merchandise: -19%
- Arts and Entertainment: -18%
- Sports and Fitness: -16%
- Food and Groceries: -14%
- Occasion and Gifts: -4%
Additionally, some of the most competitive healthcare terms lost a lot of ground in terms of featured snippets. Here are some of the keywords that took a beating:
And in the finance sector:
- Risk management
- Mutual funds
- Roth IRA
Keep in mind, though: those very competitive terms often display a Knowledge Panel on the right sidebar (at least on desktop). Google probably thought a featured snippet in addition to that KP was overkill.
Also, some featured snippets just showed the definition of search terms.
For example, when people searched for “mutual fund,” they’d often see a definition of the financial instrument in Rank 0.
But… that’s probably not why people were searching for the phrase “mutual fund.” They were likely looking for some advice about investing in quality funds or information about how to buy mutual funds.
So it makes sense that Google bounced the featured snippet in that case.
Another thing to ponder: single-word queries got destroyed in this update (assuming it’s an update). The number of featured snippets appearing for one-word terms dropped by 73%.
Meanwhile, two-word queries dropped by just 19%. Three-to-nine word queries dropped by five or six percent.
Ramifications for SEO
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
People would often get all the info they needed from your optimized image and not bother to click the link to the site.
In other words, your click-through rate might have dropped if your content showed up a lot at the Rank 0 position.
But if Google phases it out, then your other optimized content will show up on Page 1. And that content requires users to click a link if they want to get the answers they’re searching for.
And yes, I know, you probably did a lot of work to optimize for Rank 0. But the nature of SEO is that all the best-practices of today will be obsolete tomorrow.
Wrapping It Up
Keep an eye on this one. It might affect your overall content marketing strategy.
If we see the ratings drop even further, it might be best to put additional emphasis on landing a Rank 1 position rather than a Rank 0.
And you’ll likely get more visitors that way.