Featured Snippets Suck

Sometimes featured snippets suck but what can we do about it?

We’ll get the most clicks to our website if we get Google’s coveted #1, page one, featured snippet, right? Not necessarily! Keep reading to learn why sometimes featured snippets suck and what we can do to fix this.

Featured Snippets Suck

Top of the SERPs

As bloggers we want our posts to appear at the top of the page one results for the search term we are targeting. We’ll get the most clicks to our website if we’re at number one, right?

However, when you search for anything in Google the results are skewed by your own browsing history. As you’re a frequent visitor to your own website you’ll often see your articles higher up in the SERPs than they actually appear to other people. So, to determine what other searchers will see in the SERPs I use an incognito browser window.

So I’ve written a post of 3,000+ words and updated it several times. It’s the most comprehensive post on that particular subject in the world.

It gives full and complete step-by-step instructions on how to migrate a website from one company to another. And, of course, the article comes with a sprinkling of affiliate links.

It’s a great article that deserves to be at the top of page one of the search results. And what do I get? A featured snippet!

Featured Snippet
Thursday’s Featured Snippet

“The only way a starter member can migrate a website from Wealthy Affiliate is to use copy and paste into a Word or Google doc. And then start again with a new domain name.”

(Emphasis by Google)

Featured snippets suck!

OMG! The AI algorithm picked out one minor sentence that’s gonna ensure that most people who need to read the post won’t bother to click on the link. “Oh yeah, I don’t need to read 3,000 words to tell me to just use copy and paste.” WTF?

It’s no wonder that my site is getter fewer visitors than before. It’s no wonder that I’m getting fewer referrals to the products and services I recommend. It’s no wonder that I’m getting fewer conversions and therefore less money.

Clicking on the link in the featured snippet took me to the portion of my post that Google had highlighted in yellow. Seriously! Not only is the big G discouraging searchers from visiting the website it’s taking those who bother to click directly to the portion of the post that it “thinks” they want to read.

It’s doing the same thing to YouTube videos that appear in search results. Some of my videos are getting more views in the middle of the video than at the start. No need for all the preamble just go straight to the bit that G thinks you want to watch.

Don’t get mad get even

So how do we fix this little red wagon?

OK, G has highlighted that one particular part of the post.

If we change those words just a little then G can’t use the same highlighter sharpie thingy. And for good measure, we’ll update the published date to reflect the change.

“The only way a starter member can migrate their website is to use copy and paste into a Word or Google doc. And then start again with a new domain name.”

(Emphasis by me)

The next day Google still gave the post the featured snippet spot but chose a different section to highlight.

Featured Snippet
Friday’s Featured Snippet

A little better, but still not good enough. There’s a heap more to migrating a website than changing the DNS. That’s just one small step in the process.

Numbered lists

7 Simple Steps

I know! G likes numbered lists. So let’s add a numbered list to the post, slightly edit the currently displayed feature snippet paragraph, and change the published date.

And now we wait. It only took one day for Google to update the search results so we can wait for a day or three to see what happens next.

I put this experiment on the backburner for a few days then checked Google’s search results again in an incognito window.

NICE!

Featured Snippet
Today’s Featured Snippet

At last, Google has got it right. It’s even showing a couple of sub-headings that are in the article but not included in the numbered list.

The step-by-step instructions are listed and anyone who needs more specific information can click on the link and read the entire post or just the section they need help with.

And the link in the featured snippet goes to the top of the article which is where I want people to start reading.

TL;DR

If you want to know where your efforts are actually ending up in the SERPs use an incognito window so the results are not skewed by your own personal browsing history.

If you don’t like what Google is showing in the SERPs then do a little editing to force a reassessment.

If appropriate create a numbered or bulleted list.

Don’t give up and don’t let G have the final say.

Have you had a similar experience? Leave a comment, share something, or ask a question. I read all comments personally.

2 thoughts on “Featured Snippets Suck”

  1. Marion,
    This is great advice as many people seem to thing the magic of Google is incomprehensible and they can’t possibly control if or how their post is picked up as a featured snippet.

    I have a post with a list and the list became a snippet as well. I have not been intentionally adding lists for that purpose but I had read that is one thing that can affect your chances. I guess I should do some experimenting and see what happens!

    Jessica

    Reply
  2. I couldn’t agree more. Featured snippets do suck. It’s like being punished for being in the #1 spot. I’ve had every single problem you mentioned here. My traffic was reduced as a result. Now I try to get the #2 spot, lol.

    Reply

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