On February 19, 2021, we measured a dramatic drop in Featured Snippets on Google SERPs within the US. Like several accountable knowledge scientist, I waited to verify it wasn’t a fluke, did my homework, and revealed once I was positive I used to be onto one thing. Then, this occurred (30-day view):
C’MON, GOOGLE! I did all these stunning analyses, discovered a beautiful connection between Featured Snippet losses, YMYL queries, and head phrases, and you then go and make me appear to be a chump?!
Is there something we are able to be taught from this unusual flip of occasions? Do I really want this stress? Ought to I simply go pour myself a cocktail? Keep tuned for none of those solutions and extra!
You need extra knowledge? Okay, advantageous, I assume…
Might this restoration be a fluke of the ten,000-keyword MozCast knowledge set? It is unlikely, however let’s dot our i’s and cross our t’s. This is the Featured Snippet knowledge from the identical time interval throughout roughly 2.2M US/desktop key phrases within the STAT knowledge set:
So, this will get loads messier. We noticed a major drop on February 19, adopted by a partial restoration, adopted by an excellent bigger drop, lastly touchdown (for now) on a complete restoration.
Our unique research of the drop confirmed dramatic variations by question size. This is a breakdown by 4 word-count buckets for the earlier than and after Featured Snippet prevalence (the info factors are February 18, February 19, and March 12):
You possibly can plainly see that the majority of the losses have been in one-word queries, with longer queries exhibiting minor however far much less dramatic drops. All question lengths recovered by March 12.
Who actually got here again from vacation?
When you take two youngsters on trip and are available again with two youngsters, it is all good, proper? What if the children who got here again weren’t the identical? What in the event that they have been robots? Or clones? Or robotic clones?
Is it potential that the pages that have been awarded Featured Snippets after the restoration have been completely different from those from earlier than the drop? A easy rely would not inform us the entire story, even when we slice-and-dice it. This seems to be a sophisticated drawback. To begin with, we now have to think about that — along with the URL of the Featured Snippet altering — a key phrase might achieve or lose a Featured Snippet completely. Think about this comparability of pre-drop and post-recovery:
Trying on the key phrases in MozCast that had Featured Snippets on February 18, 79% of those self same key phrases nonetheless had Featured Snippets on March 12. So, we’re down 21% already. If we slim the main focus to key phrases that retained their Featured Snippets and displayed the identical web page/URL in these Featured, we’re all the way down to 60% of the unique set.
That looks like an enormous drop, however we even have to think about that three weeks (22 days, to be exact) handed between the drop and restoration. How a lot change is regular for 3 weeks? For comparability’s sake, let us take a look at the Featured Snippet stability for the 22 days previous to the drop:
Whereas these numbers are a bit higher than the post-recovery numbers, we’re nonetheless seeing about three out of 10 key phrases both dropping a Featured Snippet or altering the Featured Snippet URL. Needless to say Featured Snippets are pulled immediately from page-one natural outcomes, in order that they’re continuously in flux because the algorithm and the content material of the online evolve.
Are Featured Snippets staying dwelling?
It is inconceivable to say whether or not the unique drop was deliberate on Google’s half, an unintentional consequence of one other (deliberate) change, or completely a bug. Actually, given the main focus of the drop on so-called “head” queries and YMYL (Your Cash, Your Life) queries, I believed this was a deliberate change that was right here to remain. With out realizing why so many Featured Snippets went away, I am unable to let you know why they got here again, and I am unable to let you know how lengthy to anticipate them to remain round.
What we are able to assume is that Google will proceed to guage Featured Snippet high quality, particularly for queries the place outcome high quality is vital (together with YMYL queries) or the place Google shows Data Panels and different curated data. Nothing is assured, and no tactic is future-proof. We are able to solely proceed to measure and adapt.