Opting-Out of Google Featured Snippets Led to 12% Traffic Loss [SEO Experiment]

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Posted by Cyrus-Shepard Note: This post was co-authored by Cyrus Shepard and Rida Abidi . Everyone wants to win Google featured snippets. Right? At least, it used to be that way. Winning the featured snippet typically meant extra traffic, in part because Google showed your URL twice: once in the featured snippet and again in regular search results. For publishers, this was known as " double-dipping ." All that changed in January when Google announced they would de-duplicate search results to show the featured snippet URL only once on the first page of results. No more double-dips. Publishers worried because older studies suggested winning featured snippets drove less actual traffic than the "natural" top ranking result. With the new change, winning the featured snippet might actually now lead to less traffic, not more. This led many SEOs to speculate: should you opt-out of featured snippets altogether? Are featured snippets causing publishers to lose more traffic than they potentially gain? Here's how we found the answer. The experiment Working with the team at SearchPilot , we devised an A/B split test experiment to remove Moz Blog posts from Google featured snippets, and measure the impact on traffic. Using Google's data-nosnippet tag , we identified blog pages with winning featured snippets and applied the tag to the main content of the page. Our working hypothesis was that these pages would lose their featured snippets and return to the "regular" search results below. A majority of us also expected to see a negative impact on traffic, but wanted to measure exactly how much, and identify whether the featured snippets would return after we removed the tag. In this example, Moz lost the featured snippet almost immediately. The snippet was instead awarded to Content King and Moz returned to the top "natural" position. Here is another example of what happened in search results. After launching the test, the featured snippet was awarded to Backlinko and we returned to the top of the natural results. One important thing to keep in mind is that, while these keywords triggered a featured snippet, pages can rank for hundreds or thousands of different keywords in different positions. So the impact of losing a single featured snippet can be somewhat softened when your URL ranks for many different keywords — some which earn featured snippets and some which don't. The results After adding the data-nosnippet tag, our variant URLs …

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Behind the SEO: Launching Our New Guide — How to Rank

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Posted by Cyrus-Shepard Seven years ago, we published a post on the Moz Blog titled "How to Rank: 25 Step Master SEO Blueprint." From an SEO perspective, the post did extremely well. Over time, the "How to Rank" post accumulated: 400k pageviews 200k organic visits 100s of linking root domains Despite its success, seven years is a long time in SEO. The chart below shows what often happens when you don't update your content. Predictably, both rankings and traffic declined significantly. By the summer of 2020, the post was only seeing a few hundred visits per month. Time to update We decided to update the content. We did this not only for a ranking/traffic boost, but also because SEO has changed a lot since 2013. The old post simply didn't cut it anymore. To regain our lost traffic, we also wanted to leverage Google's freshness signals for ranking content. Many …

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The Power of "Is": A Featured Snippet Case Study

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Posted by EricSerdar I’m not a literary scholar, but I believe it was Hamlet that said “to have a featured snippet or not to have a featured snippet?” Ever since featured snippets came onto the scene, sites have been trying to secure them. My team and I wanted in on this craze. Throughout our journey of research, testing, failure, and success, we found some interesting pieces of information that we wanted to share with the community. I’ll walk you through what we did and show you some of our results (though can’t share traffic numbers). It was Britney Muller’s webinar on Feature Snippet Essentials and the release of the featured snippets cheat sheet that inspired me to capture what we've learned. What are featured snippets? A featured snippet is the box that appears at the top of the search result page that provides information to succinctly and accurately answer your …

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Position Zero Is Dead; Long Live Position Zero

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Posted by Dr-Pete In 2014, Google introduced the featured snippet, a promoted organic ranking that we affectionately (some days were more affectionate than others) referred to as "position zero" or "ranking #0." One of the benefits to being in position zero was that you got to double-dip, with your organic listing appearing in both the featured snippet and page-1 results (usually in the top 3–4). On January 23, Google announced a significant change (which rolled out globally on January 22) ... "Declutters" sounds innocuous, but the impact to how we think about featured snippets and organic rankings is significant. So, let's dig deep into some examples and the implications for SEO. What does this mean for Moz? First, a product announcement. In the past, we treated Featured Snippets as stand-alone SERP features — they were identified in our "SERP Features" report but were not treated as organic due to the …

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Title Tags SEO: When to Include Your Brand and/or Boilerplate

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Posted by Cyrus-Shepard If your websites are like most, they include a fair amount of extra "stuff" in the title tags : things like your brand name or repeating boilerplate text that appears across multiple pages. Should you include these elements in your titles automatically? To be fair, most sites do. Alternatively, could it help your SEO to actually include less information in your titles? (Or at least in specific circumstances?) We know from a handful of studies that titles of a certain length tend to perform better. A now-famous study from the engineers at Etsy showed how shorter titles performed better than longer ones . SEOs speculate that this could be because shorter titles can have more focused relevancy (by focusing on core keywords), might earn higher click-through rates, or some other reason we can't imagine. When choosing which part of a title to shorten, brand names and boilerplate …

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Identifying Advanced GSC Search Performance Patterns (and What to Do About Them)

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Posted by izzismith Google Search Console is by far the most used device in the SEO’s toolkit. Not only does it provide us with the closest understanding we can have of Googlebot’s behavior and perception of our domain properties (in terms of indexability, site usability, and more), but it also allows us to assess the search KPIs that we work so rigorously to improve. GSC is free, secure, easy to implement, and it’s home to the purest form of your search performance KPI data. Sounds perfect, right? However, the lack of capability for analyzing those KPIs on larger scales means we can often miss crucial points that indicate our pages’ true performance. Being limited to 1,000 rows of data per request and restricted filtering makes data refinement and growth discovery tedious (or close to impossible). SEOs love Google Search Console — it has the perfect data — but sadly, it’s …

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21 Smart Google SEO Tips for 2021

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Posted by Cyrus-Shepard Happy new year, readers! We're back with a brand new season of Whiteboard Friday episodes for your viewing pleasure. First up: Moz SEO expert Cyrus Shepard shares his top 21 tips for successful Google SEO in 2021, including what to prioritize and what to look out for in the year ahead. He's also included a bunch of helpful resources for your reference in the transcription below! Watch and enjoy, and as always, leave your questions and your own suggestions in the comment section.       Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab! Video Transcription Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I'm Cyrus Shepard. Today, so glad that you can join us. We are talking about 21 smart Google SEO tips for 2021. We're getting ready for a new year, a …

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How to Detect and Improve Underperforming Content: A Guide to Optimization

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Posted by SamuelMangialavori Content, content, and more content! That’s what SEO is all about nowadays, right? Compared to when I started working in SEO (2014), today, content is consistently one of the most popular topics covered at digital marketing conferences, there are way more tools that focus on content analysis and optimization, and overall it seems to dominate most of SEO news. Don’t believe me? Here’s a nice Google Trends graph that may change your mind: Google Trends screenshot for “content marketing” as a topic, set for worldwide interest. But why is it that content is now dominating the SEO scene? How vital is content for your SEO strategy, actually? And most importantly: how can you be content with your site’s content? Puns aside, this post aims to help you figure out potential causes of your underperforming content and how to improve it. Why content is key in SEO in …

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17 Advanced SEO Techniques for 2020

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This is a list of 17 advanced SEO strategies, techniques and tactics. In fact, these strategies have helped my site bring in 350,973 visitors per month from Google. So if you’re sick of reading the same old beginners stuff (“create great content!”), you’ll really enjoy this list. 1. Rank for “Journalist Keywords” 2. Use Animated Images to Improve Time On Site 3. Create Content Hubs 4. Target Comparison Keywords 5. Use Dynamic Parameters for Pagination 6. Build Backlinks With Podcasts 7. Forge a Content Alliance 8. Maximize SERP Real Estate 9. Embed Original Images In Your Content 10. Optimize Your Content For Keyword Relevance 11. Create a Comments Section On Your Blog 12. Uncover People Also Ask Keywords 13. Add “Content Features” To Your Page 14. Publish Topic + Year Content 15. Get Backlinks From Unlinked Brand Mentions 16. Optimize for Google Discover 17. Find Low-Competition Keywords From Reddit Bonus …

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They're Simply the Best: The Top 25 Moz Blog Posts of 2020

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Posted by morgan.mcmurray Here we are again — that time of year filled with wrap-ups and lookbacks and “best of” compilations. 2020 was a year like no other, and that’s certainly reflected in the topics covered by the blogs in the list below. We published 170 blog posts this year (including Whiteboard Friday episodes) — not too shabby for a year rife with personal and professional challenges! We’re looking forward to what 2021 has in store, but in case you missed anything, we’ve compiled the top 25 most-read pieces from the last 12 months*. You’ll find several Whiteboard Friday episodes (past and present), local SEO tips, and advice for empathetic marketing, along with the optimistic SEO predictions for 2020 and beyond — made in pre-COVID times. So without further ado, here are the best Moz Blog posts of 2020. Enjoy!   *The top 25 Moz Blog posts listed below …

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Spot Zero is Gone — Here's What We Know After 30 Days

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Posted by PJ_Howland As you are probably aware by now, recent updates have changed the world of search optimization. On January 22nd Google, in its infinite wisdom, decided that the URL that has earned the featured snippet in a SERP would not have the additional spot in that SERP. This also means that from now on the featured snippet will be the true spot-one position. If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search results. This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily. Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show. — Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) January 22, 2020 Rather than rehash what’s been so eloquently discussed already, I’ll direct you to Dr. Pete’s post if you need a refresher on what this means for you and for Moz. 30 …

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