Algorithm Rolled Out: February 19, 2021

Algorithm Overview: Overall Gist

We’ve become accustomed to the reality that featured snippets come and go as Google refines its product and improves the user experience. However, we saw some record featured snippet lows in February. We witnessed a drop in featured snippets of roughly 25% on desktop and 17% on mobile in February, but the numbers started to recover around March 12. The highlighted snippet count averages on mobile SERPs quickly returned to normal, but desktop SERPs continue to lag behind. 

While Featured Snippets dropped by 40%, the impact was concentrated on shorter, more competitive phrases and certain sector groups. It makes sense to examine the influence on your rankings and search traffic if you’re in the YMYL categories.

In general, Google increases the number of SERP features over time, reaches a point where quality begins to deteriorate and reduces the volume. Google may increase the number of Featured Snippets as they gain confidence in the quality of their algorithms. Featured Snippets aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and they’re still highly common in lengthier, natural-language searches.

Algorithm Winners & Losers

We looked at the number of SERPs that carried a highlighted snippet before and after February 19, in particular. We also looked at how highlighted snippets have changed over time in different industries’ SERPs. These five industries were the worst affected on mobile on February 19, with a 36 percent fall in SERPs having a featured snippet:

1. Food and Beverage (-50 percent )

2. Well-being (-37 percent )

3. Electronics & Computers (-36 percent )

4. Commercial & Industrial (-30 percent )

5. Arts and Entertainment (-29%)

On average, desktop SERPs have lost a tiny percentage of their highlighted snippets (-0.47%), whilst mobile SERPs have seen a slight increase (+0.29%).

The SERPs categories that lost the most highlighted snippets on both the desktop and mobile web are nearly identical:

The top five categories were Computers & Electronics, Science, Health, and Jobs & Education. Food & Drink for mobile and Law & Government for desktop are the last two categories on the list. By March 16, mobile SERPs had fully recovered to pre-drop levels, with most of the top 5 categories even showing slight gains (e.g., Health: +2.60 percent, Science: 1.99 percent). Food & Drink was the lone exception, with 0.5 percent less highlighted snippets in the relevant SERPs.

Algorithm Solution: Ways to implement or take to cope with Google algorithm guidelines

For search queries where you wish to own the snippet, it’s critical to understand the type of highlighted snippet Google displays. There are a few different types to choose from:


List with numbers

List of bullets

Paragraph 1 of Table Video

If your content appears on the first Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for a search query with a featured snippet, you may “win” that snippet and go to the top of the page. Let’s have a look at this in more detail.

According to our research, featured snippets originate from pages that already rank in the top ten. Furthermore, the great majority of highlighted snippets pages appear in the first five results.

Finally, the higher your material ranks, the more likely you are to be featured in a highlighted snippet.

It’s a more manageable objective to get to the first SERP than it is to rank first for a keyword. However, if that term results in a highlighted snippet, the top spot becomes a little more reachable.

Real-Time Implementation Example

Since February 19, 2021, Google appears to be displaying less highlighted snippets in search results. The percentage of search results containing featured snippets has decreased significantly in all three methods that track them that I’m aware of.

Although, as of this morning, RankRanger appears to be bouncing back, leading me to question if this was a Google glitch.

According to Mozcast, the percentage of search results with featured snippets has decreased from 7.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent:

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Featured Snippets
Featured Snippets

You shouldn’t make material just to target a featured snippet. You choose keywords because they’re popular and relevant to your industry. If your material is chosen as the featured sample, that’s the cherry on top.

Despite this, it’s still a good idea to think about highlighting snippets while developing content.

Assume you have a food blog and are about to publish an article about how to create pizza dough. To uncover possible featured snippet chances, utilize the same criteria from Site Explorer in Keyword Explorer. Simply type in “pizza dough” as the seed term, then go to the “Also rank for” report and apply the highlighted snippet filter.

The issue is that there are tens of thousands of keywords to choose from. It wouldn’t make sense to combine all of them. Instead, we want to look for ones that are relevant, have high monthly search traffic, and appear to be simple to rank for.

To achieve this, we’ll need a few filters:

KD (Keyword Difficulty): 30

Monthly search volume minimum: 100

“pizza” is one of the keywords.

“menu” is not a keyword that triggers featured snippets (there are many “pizza menu” keywords that do). 

Final End Result

Based on our findings, we can’t make any broad conclusions about why featured snippets are disappearing or what this implies for the future of SERPs.

We can’t forecast Google’s future goals, but it appears that mobile SERPs have recovered and stabilized in comparison to desktop following the February 19 dip. We’ll keep an eye on the SERPs for any further adjustments.

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