Google Answer Box is eating all the traffic up — Is Google Stealing Web Traffic?
Google Answer Box now appears to be eating up clicks at an astonishing rate. What many SEO’s embraced as “top tier positioning” may have certain drawbacks in terms of actually generating traffic.
Google Answer Box Siphons Web Traffic, So the question is… Is it really worth it?
Want to know where all your traffic went? Google Answer Box is now devouring web traffic with it’s Featured Snippet — Instant Answers. Call them “zero clicks” or “click stealing”. If you don’t know what Google Answer Box is, here’s an example:
I searched Google for “inground pool prices”. It’s a search query that many home owners use when they want to figure out the cost to install an inground pool.
The first result in Google is a featured snippet. If you don’t know what a featured snippet is or what rich snippets are, think of them as an extra bonus Google awards certain web pages as to how they will appear in search results.
Some SERP Bonuses aren’t all they’re cracked up to be
Some bonuses howevever, are not so hot when it comes to generating web traffic for your site or leads. Homeguide.com has a great website, can’t take anything away from their team or how the website is built. I’m sure in terms of lead generation it is a real winner for them. It gets something ridiculous like over 2 million visitors a year.
“Inground Pool Prices” as a search term has a 74% difficulty rating to achieve. Their SEO’s did a great job of writing a terrific article to rank #1 in search, but did they do too good a job? I believe the bounce rate on that page is a direct correlation to their Google Featured snippet positioning and I’ll take a moment to explain why.
As Google continues to try to be all things to all people, the normal keywords that this page would typically rank #1 for are supplanted by a featured snippet rating. Many of the questions that this page is trying to draw traffic for are answered in the context of a Google search.
Incidentally, the winner of that keyword search is Thursday Pools. There are an average of 11,000 queries a year for that keyword search and Thursday is eating up half the clicks. What they do with the clicks when they get them, is another story entirely. Bounce rate on that page is 96% so something is definitely off.
Possibly weak call to actions, not enough breakup in the text or headlines to break up the eye drain and monotony of a really long informative article. The proof is in the pudding though, Google loves the article for it’s informative content — but visitors don’t for some reason.
People that are actually in the search engine marketing industry like to debate over whether or not Google is “stealing clicks” with it’s featured snippet ranking.
“If it’s an immediate answer to a searcher’s query, then yes, a click may be lost, but not stolen,” according to Edward Lewis, a business marketing consultant with XSymmetry.
So is google answer box stealing web traffic or not? The long answer is no. I wrote another article explaining why Google isn’t intentionally stealing clicks.
Answer Box is a coin flip. Do you want Traffic or Brand Positioning?
Whether or not you want traffic or want to be an authority in search all depends on Brand Positioning though. So maybe it’s a strategic intent on their part to have this page show up with that snippet and put their brand front & center with homeowners instead of drawing clicks.
“In these zero-click instances, I view them as branding opportunities. You have images, description and URL visuals. Plus, you’re taking up a significant amount of SERP real estate, twice the norm in many instances.”
Many Website Owners insist that Google Answer Box is responsible for a sudden dip in web traffic
Many publishers and website owners aren’t buying it and insist that Google is stealing their website traffic in order to provide instant answers for it’s users. Google has come under fire numerous times since rolling out Answer Box, but defends it’s position by stating in it’s terms of service agreement:
“When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”
Is Google Stealing Clicks?
Google is flat out telling you they’re not stealing clicks because you allowed them to use your content on this search result by the very fact that your content appears on Google. It’s up to them how they want to display it and use it in their system. Wait… even if that violates copyright?
Is Google Answer Box Violating Copyright Laws?
Many people feel that statement is too broad, violates copyright laws and gives Google too much latitude to use content as they see fit.
“The terms of service clearly allow Google to create snippets. In other words, you use Google — you give Google permission to do whatever they want with content, even to modify that content.” said Tom Dunlap, an intellectual property lawyer and partner at Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig.
Think about it, there used to be thousands of different websites wholly dedicated to providing answers for questions. When Google Answer Box came out, they siphoned the traffic and revenue from those sites fast as you can blink.
“The problems arrive when Google’s answers start costing the [intellectual property] holder traffic and potential revenue, they have a situation that is typically the grounds for a copyright lawsuit,” said John Conway, an attorney specializing in copyright and intellectual property law and CEO of Astonish Media Group. “That sort of use is allowed by the wide-ranging license Google requires but is not really in line with the spirit of the agreement that Google is supposed to be using it for.”
Opting Out of Featured Snippets
Want to opt out of featured snippets? Add the meta tag below to your page or post. This will prevent Google from using the content as a featured snippet.
<meta name="googlebot" content="nosnippet">
Should I opt out of featured Snippets?
I’m not saying to completely opt out of featured snippets. Some of them can be pretty useful. But it’s a fact, they are siphoning web traffic in preference for branding and answering a question immediately.
I’d say to use a strategic marketing approach on the content you want to draw traffic from, and the content you want to use for branding — positioning or becoming an authority for answering consumer questions on certain topics.
This story was originally published on: https://www.poolmarketing.com/does-google-answer-box-steal-web-traffic/