Site Has Lost All Google Featured Snippets (Causes & Fixes)

This is something that seemed to hit sites a lot during the May 2022 and September/October 2022 Google core algorithm updates. It was colloquially known as the “Snippet Ban” in some SEO quarters, and refers to a website losing not just one, or some, but literally ALL of any featured snippets it has won on Google (featured snippets are those boxes that appear at the top of some SERPs that give a bottom line, summary 2-3 sentences answer).

These snippets were extremely valuable for traffic for some sites, and losing them was a big hit. I know myself because I’ve had ALL my blogs get hit with these site-wide bans. But that can also give some valuable insights, as it must have been something I was specifically doing that caused this. Something specific in my SEO strategy that got my sites into trouble and caused this site-wide ban.

Whilst there are several potential causes for this site-wide loss of snippets, which we’ll cover in this post, I have a strong idea as to what is the main cause.

The most likely reason for a site-wide loss of featured snippets is over-optimizing your content for snippets. This includes writing and bolding too many snippet answer targets in the hope of winning snippets and generally focusing too much on gaining snippets instead of providing relatable, useful content for readers.

In other words, sites that Google thinks are going after too many snippets too much of the time in too much of their content, instead of just producing naturally written, high quality content, seem to have been hit with these updates and lost all their snippets.

Let’s look into this, and other possible reasons for snippet bans, plus some fixes to try and remedy.

Cause #1 – Over-optimizing For Snippets

Whilst there are some other potential, peripheral, technical reasons for site-wide snippet loss, I would encourage readers to focus on this first issue as the most likely main cause in most cases, for a total snippet ban – over-optimization.

By this, we mean focusing too much in your content creation in winning featured snippets instead of just creating helpful, naturally written content for users.

If Google thinks your primary aim and focus in your content creation has switched from helping users, to just winning as many snippets as possible to drive as much traffic as possible, it’s likely to punish your site as not having “helpful content”. Or, as they’ve put it in some more recent update literature, creating content primarily for search engines and not for people.

Some over-optimization traps can include:

  • Just writing too many answer targets in too formal a way in too many of your posts, in a style that not’s contextually congruent or relatable. Forcing your content into an “unnatural” style just to win snippets; not writing how you normally would.
  • Some SEO’s in past years recommended bolding sections you wanted to be used as snippets (sometimes called “answer targets”) to signal them to search engines. Again, over-doing this seems to have got some sites into trouble, since if Google see’s an excessive amount of bolding combined with a “formal” style, they can see this as over-optimizing instead of writing naturally.

Winning Snippets in 2023

“In the past, we used to bold this entire (snippet) paragraph. And that really helped readers to identify this quick answer to their question….

Now we’re finding that when we bold the entire paragraph, Google sees that as a potential over-optimization. And if they see you doing that on every single article on your website, they think that you’re optimizing for the search engine and not for people….

What I like to do is find the one sentence of the paragraph that’s the meatiest part of the answer, without all the caveats, etc, and bold that”.

Ricky Kesler – Income School

Therefore, it’s this same issue of over-optimizing for snippets, instead of writing for people first, that seems to cause the issue. If you’ve overdone it and gotten greedy with “snippet hunting” (I did), this might have been why your site lost all it’s snippets.

And here’s some important fixes for this issue:

  • Go back over your old content that’s over-optimized for snippets and pull way back on the answer targets and bolding. For the bolding, only highlight the most relevant part of the answer target, not the whole 2-3 sentences. And I would aim to only do this once in most articles (perhaps sometimes twice if it makes sense contextually).
  • Going forward, apply this same method for snippet optimization – only do it once or max twice in posts, and only bold the most relevant sentence or few words.
  • Make sure the rest of the content aside from the snippet is also good, thorough and relatably, informally written when the niche warrants it.
  • DON’T produce spammy, poor quality articles where it’s just a bunch of 1 paragraph subheadings, and every single paragraph is basically written in non helpful, non relatable way, purely to try and win a snippet. This is exactly what Google is talking about when they refer to content “purely designed to drive traffic from search engines” and not help the reader.

This is the first and most important thing to work on if you identify it on your site. But be aware, you’re not likely to get immediate results (more on this further below).

Cause #2 – Too Much Unhelpful Content On Your Site

This is kind of a follow up the over-optimization point, but has been even further emphasized with the 2023 core updates focusing on Helpful Content. There was also an aspect of this in the 2022 updates, but it’s gone up a few notches in 2023.

It may not be the primary cause for wide-snippet loss, but it may be a secondary factor that if seen alongside the over-optimization issue, perhaps exacerbated or triggered site wide snippet bans – having too much content on your site that Google deems “unhelpful”.

This includes:

  • Thin, mediocre, or otherwise unhelpful content that’s not adding original value.
  • Content that’s well optimized for snippets, but otherwise not original or useful to readers (a traffic first rather than user first approach).
  • Having too much content on your site that’s not getting any traffic or views (internally or externally), and are basically just sitting as “deadweight” pages on your site.

Again, this has taken more of an emphasis in 2023, but is something else to urgently fix if you ever hope to win back featured snippets.

Fixes – Make sure your site has quality, useful content traffic and doesn’t have a lot of content considered “unhelpful”. Also:

  • Don’t create content that’s purely designed to win the snippet, but is otherwise low value, unhelpful content that isn’t really adding value to the SERPs. Aim to produce content that would and should rank high even without snippets.
  • Get rid of any content that’s deadweight – not driving any traffic or engagement or otherwise mediocre or poor.
  • Make sure any content you produce actually adds original facts/information/insights/analysis not found in other articles on the SERP. Add original value.

See here for Google’s Helpful Content Guidelines for more information on what they’re looking for.

Cause #3 – Misusing Schema

Honestly, this is something I have much less experience in, but which has been cited in one forum as a potential cause for a site losing all snippets. It’s the misuse of schema, especially review schema.

I’ve personally stayed away from Schema and reviews on my sites, so I can’t offer expert help on this. But if you are using schema of any kind on your website, and also trying to win snippets (“review snippets”), be sure to use them correctly and within Google’s guidelines – link here.

Will You Win Snippets Back?

This is a tricky one, and specifically for site-wide snippet loss, it appears that Google keeps a snippet ban in place for your entire site for quite some time after losing them all.

For me personally, it’s been 4-5 months since I fully cleaned up all my sites and pulled back on snippet optimization, and I’ve yet to win any of them back. Another membership site I was on reported a similar thing – you can win some back if you clean up your site, but it seems to take a long time.

Another forum user who comment on this reported a similar thing – taking 9-12 months to win only some of the snippets back, and not nearly as many as before:

Therefore, there’s no guarantee you’ll win the featured snippets back, and if you do, it can take a long time and you might never win as many as you did before. It appears that Google punished sites heavily that were over-optimizing for snippets, and it’s a long wait to get them back, if at all.


I like to draw on my own experience to help new bloggers and other digital marketers solve common problems encountered when working and making your money online

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