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How to rank in position zero

Difficulty: Intermediate

You’d think that ranking in position number one is what you should be aiming for. After all, that is the highest position, and will therefore lead to more traffic, leads and sales, right? However, sometimes the aim isn’t just to get position one, but to also get position zero.

What is position zero?

Position zero is another name for Google’s Featured Snippet which launched in 2014.

The featured snippet includes a short blurb of information from one of the top 10 results. The aim of this is to directly answer a user's’ question, and saves them having to visit the webpage. The snippet will include a short answer, a display title and a URL.

For example, if you Google “what is a featured snippet” you will receive the following snippet from Search Engine Watch:

Snippets can come in different formats, including paragraphs, tables and lists, and can even include an image.

Users are also able to give feedback to ensure the most relevant result is featured.

What are the benefits of position zero?

The best part about position zero is that the answer isn’t determined by authority.

This means that you don’t have to worry about having a higher authority than your competitors. You don’t even have to be the number one position.

Position zero can even result in a higher click-through-rate, meaning you could experience a higher traffic flow to your website. In fact, Hubspot undertook a study and found having position zero can result in a 114% increase in click-through-rate for high value keywords.

So how can you get to position zero?

The most important thing is to ensure you are ranked on the first page of Google’s results page.

While Google doesn’t always chose the information from the first result, it will always chose from the first page. About ⅓ of featured snippets come from position number one, with the majority of the rest coming from results 2 to 5.

Therefore, if you’re wanting to achieve better results, but you’re only ranking in position 2 to 5, it may be better to aim for position 0 rather than position number 1, as you will see more benefits.

If you’re already ranking on page one of Google, there are four simple steps you can take to help your changes at securing the coveted position zero. These steps are:

1. Identify a Simple Question

You want to identify a question that requires a short, simple answer. However, you have to be careful with this. If people are searching for a very simple question, the snippet may answer their question. This means the user won’t have to visit your website, and you will see a negative impact on your click-through-rate.To avoid this problem, make sure you’re aiming to answer a question that is relevant to your industry, but one that is complex enough to guarantee you will achieve the SEO benefits of the featured snippet.

2. Provide a direct answer

The featured snippet is just that - snippets. Therefore, it’s important to ensure you provide a short answer to the question. Make sure you put the question and answer in the one sentence, as this makes it easier for crawlers to identify the question and answer. This will increase your chances of getting your website in a featured snippet.

3. Offer Value Added Info

You want to provide a direct answer, but you want to go further than that. To increase your chances of being the featured snippet, you need to include extra information that is of value to the readers. For example, Search Engine Land used this method when writing about no follow links:

Source: Search Engine Land

Rather than directly answering the question, the answer offers extra value and even includes an example. Adding in this extra information will go a long way to increase your chances of being the featured snippet for your keyword.

4. Make it easy for Google (and users) to find.

Always keep the users in mind when composing your content. People want to read something that is easy to read - both in language and formatting. Make sure your answer is skimmable and people can easily find the most important information. Consider writing a list, a table, or including bold sections of text, as this will make the text easier to read.

Consider YouTube

When trying to rank in position zero, don’t just think about the content on your website and blog posts.

Consider what you’re posting on YouTube. Google looks at both transcripts and descriptions to gain content for the featured snippet.

There are two important things you need to achieve to ensure your YouTube description or transcript ends up in a featured snippet:
The YouTube needs to be ranking in Google’s top 10 results.
The description needs to be concise and answer the question.

Following these tips will speed up the process of becoming the featured snippet and appearing in position zero.


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