Instances of so-called featured snippets in Google’s search results within the finance industry have dropped by 60%. Data from SEO software firm, Moz shows that in February, featured snippets dropped by 40% overall in mid-February, with no signs of the trend reversing.
What is a featured snippet?
Featured snippets are short portions of text that appear at the top of Google’s search results. They are designed to answer a searcher’s query quickly and concisely, with content for featured snippets often being drawn directly from websites within the wider search results.
Featured snippets have long been the target of search marketers who benefit from an often-significant uplift in website traffic as a result of securing a featured snippet position. The increase in traffic and prominence of a featured snippet result has led marketers to refer to it as a ‘position zero’ ranking; a reference to the concept of ranking in position one of Google’s search results.
What has changed?
Moz has reported that featured snippet prevalence has dropped across the board, with an overall drop of 40%. The firm’s data shows that health and finance are the two industries hardest hit by the change, with a drop of 68% and 60% respectively.
The data shows that high search volume (the number of regular searches) search queries are those that are impacting the drop off in featured snippet appearance. Short, very competitive search queries such as ‘pension’, ‘risk management’ and ‘investment’ are typical of the types of search queries impacted by this change.
Commenting on the data via the Moz website, Marketing Scientist, Dr Peter Meyers said, “the impact [is] primarily on shorter, more competitive terms and specific industry categories.
“For those in YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) categories, it certainly makes sense to evaluate the impact on your rankings and search traffic.”
Impact on YMYL
YMYL, otherwise known as ‘your money or your life’ is Google’s way of classifying search sectors that can have a significant impact on a searcher’s life. Google defines this as, “[search topics that] could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”
The change in featured snippet prevalence lands squarely at the two most prominent sectors in the YMYL sphere: finance and health.
Analysis: time to panic, or nothing new?
Seeing features come, change and go on Google is nothing new. Be clear; the prevalence of featured snippets is now lower than at any other time since 2015. Despite that, it’s perhaps not quite time to panic and shift your strategy.
The most significant reason to not panic is that the data suggests the change impacts what search marketers refer to as ‘head terms’; the high search volume, ultra-competitive, broad-reaching search queries.
Most firms won’t have been competing for a featured snippet spot for the search query ‘pension’, so to see it disappear won’t cause many marketers to lose sleep.
The best course of action whenever Google makes a sweeping change like this is to assess how it impacts you and your firm. If your strategy has been to grow your brand via thought leadership and content aimed squarely at a well-researched target audience, we suspect you’ll have little to worry about in the long term.