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Lost majority of Featured Snippets: possible causes?

     
12:11 pm on Oct 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I have just noticed, that for 3 different markets (English/German), I have lost most of my FS after the 4th of October. Drop of around 70%
Not only the FS that I had. but also the total number of FS opportunities went down dramatically, according to Semrush.
It's not like a penalty. as I am still ranking at nr.1 for many of these kws.

But first time that I see something like this..
Any ideas?
3:04 pm on Oct 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Ok, I'll be the dumb one ... What's FS?

I don't use Semrush.
3:11 pm on Oct 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Aha ... featured snippets ... Yes / no?
4:12 pm on Oct 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Aha ... featured snippets ... Yes / no?


Yeah, featured snippets. AWR reports their overall prevalence in the UK dropping by over 40% in the last week (from 16.4% down to 9.7% today). First detected on Sunday.

For one of my clients, the vast majority of keywords had featured snippets before, but 80% of these disappeared overnight. So this is a major change.
4:30 pm on Oct 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hello-

See the message #4967521 from @lukesmithseo : [webmasterworld.com...]

I'm seeing featured snippets disappearing for the majority of keywords across multiple industries, in both UK and Australia. I'm talking over 80% gone in some cases where they were previously widespread.

Unsure if this is affecting the US too, but Mozcast reports their prevalence dropping from 16% to 14% in the last 2 weeks, so could be related (https://moz.com/mozcast/features)
9:42 pm on Oct 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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More fine tuning by g ... for every thing they recommend you can bet within the year following there will be a tweak to kill off the abusers ... but in this case it might simply be that the featured stuff is all too similar across the board and turns out to be not as useful (to g) as hoped.

This is one reason why I don't jump on every new bright bulb idea that comes out at g. Most times the new stuff falls flat---and a lot of wheel spinning for the webmaster has occurred ... with no resulting benefit.


(What they give they can take away...)

.
8:12 am on Oct 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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A co-SEO suggested to have a look at this option at the settings of GSC, as a possible cause.
Do you have it too?

European Press Publication Status
This setting determines whether Google lists this property as a European press publication within the meaning of Directive (EU) 2019/790 on Copyright and Related Rights in the Digital Single Market. This affects how previews of your content, such as snippets or thumbnails, appear in search results on Google. Learn more
If you want richer search previews, you can use snippet and thumbnail meta tags to enable them at a page level or uncheck this box to remove your property from the list of European press publications.

Include this property in the list of European press publications
12:49 pm on Oct 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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A co-SEO suggested to have a look at this option at the settings of GSC, as a possible cause.
Do you have it too?

European Press Publication Status

Thanks, I hadn't seen this before - and very interesting timing that it was rolled out this month. But it does say:

This setting affects the display of text snippets and thumbnail images from your property in France

[support.google.com...]

Also looks like you have to switch this on manually, so I wouldn't expect it to have a sudden effect overnight, like was seen on Sunday...
12:52 pm on Oct 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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A co-SEO suggested to have a look at this option at the settings of GSC, as a possible cause.
Do you have it too?

European Press Publication Status

But here's the link to that new setting if anybody needs it: [search.google.com...]
9:21 am on Oct 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Just a small update:
It seems that some of them came back, at least for Australia.
Need to check also the rest of the markets.
But still missing the majority of them.
12:58 pm on Oct 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Just a small update:
It seems that some of them came back, at least for Australia.


Hmm, I'm seeing no changes since that first drop-off.

Of the keywords I'm tracking in Australia, 17 were returning featured snippets on 5th, then dropped to 7 on 6th, and still 7 today.
11:54 am on Oct 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I had 20 active FS till the 24th of September, then went down to 12 and after the 3rd of October at 4...
Back at 6 after the 12th of October till today
11:49 am on Oct 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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As since the 22/10 I went up to 11 FS and today at 13.
So suddenly they started coming back.
3:39 pm on Oct 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It is the BERT update causing it.
4:51 pm on Oct 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It is the BERT update causing it.


No, this happened nearly 3 weeks ago now, so not BERT.

I've been seeing the featured snippets changing a lot over the last week, but their prevalence hasn't increased across the keywords I'm tracking.
9:22 am on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Also I find different results from Semrush and Ahrefs regarding FS.

SR shows what I have mentioned earlier. From 20 FS, to 12 and then to 4. Then the recovery was 4->11 and I still remain at 13
Ahrefs shows a different image. From 24 down to 8. Then after the 4/10 back to 31 FS directly! Even more than before!
9:39 am on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It is the BERT update causing it.


BERT is not an update in the traditional way we'd understand algo changes, or datacenter updates. BERT is really about language understanding in search.

I'm quoting from Google here...
Well, by applying BERT models to both ranking and featured snippets in Search, we’re able to do a much better job helping you find useful information. In fact, when it comes to ranking results, BERT will help Search better understand one in 10 searches in the U.S. in English, and we’ll bring this to more languages and locales over time.
For featured snippets, we’re using a BERT model to improve featured snippets in the two dozen countries where this feature is available, and seeing significant improvements in languages like Korean, Hindi and Portuguese.


[webmasterworld.com...]
10:23 am on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I do understand this, but I guess it is possible in some cases that Google is preferring to remove snippets. In many other cases snippets will be added or improved.

In the Events space a lot of snippets have been swapped for Event listing boxes.
12:15 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I'm quoting from Google here...

For featured snippets, we’re using a BERT model to improve featured snippets in the two dozen countries where this feature is available, and seeing significant improvements in languages like Korean, Hindi and Portuguese.

Interesting that they mention featured snippets specifically. Even though the timings don't line up, I do wonder if this was related to the same initiative...