What kind of answer do you expect to a burning question? An immediate one. Humans are impatient by nature, and Google understands that. The search engine is devoted to presenting the best results to its users. The search engine changes so much in a year that SEO experts are always on their toes. Everyone strives to get that top ranking in search results for more CTR and higher conversions.
Sites ranking high on Google have some things in common:
1. Large brands have it easier than smaller brands
2. Social media matters, in building link juice and conversions
3. Stronger backlinks have a better impact on search rankings
4. Keywords in a domain name affect rankings
5. Quality content is a significant driver when indexing websites
6. Word count around 500 words is ideal to rank
SEO strategy can turn your website into a lead-generating machine in a few months. Recently, another new feature in search result pages is making waves for its effectiveness. It’s called Position 0. Everyone has heard of Position 1; 2018 is going to be a lot about Position 0.
Position 0 is the place on a search engine result page which is above the top result. Usually, this post has the most relevant answer to your search query. I typed “the best way to lose weight’’ in the search box, and this is what I found in the top result.
As you can see, the instructions written in the box belong to an ordinary website, yet they show up in the top results. This box is known as a ‘featured snippet’ in search engine optimization terms. Google has started this practice to show users the most relevant answer in the fastest, most concise way possible.
RankRanger reports that these featured snippets occur in about 12.65% of search queries. Moreover, if your website content shows up in a featured snippet, it will appear on the first page twice. Not just twice, but on the first organic result on the page. My query for the weight loss keyword has the website appearing twice on the same page in this manner:
History of rich snippets
The snippets are not a new feature. We have been dealing with something similar since 2012. Google introduced the Knowledge Graph in the year 2012, and the Answer Box in the year 2013. However, the information required to power the two elements was rooted back in the Google database.
Featured snippets are new for website owners because of this information roots back to a third-party website with the most relevant answer to a query.
Snippets provide a brand-new opportunity to get the most reliable answer for your search term. Google checks these links as per relevancy and website reliability. As a user, you may have seen countless featured boxes in search results, but as a website owner, you will look at them differently.
SEM Rush studied that the featured snippets have grown four times since they were born in 2014.
The website also reported that out of 10 million search result pages, here are the most common types of featured answers you can see:
- Paragraphs (answering ‘what’ questions)
- Lists (answering ‘how’ questions)
These templates are devised by Google to show information in the best structure possible. It directly answers a question and eliminates the need to visit a page for a detailed read.
What is position 0
The snippet places search results above the first organic result. This featured box on the top of a search page is also known as position 0. If you are running a business website, you may want to start working on a system to rank on position 0 for a search query relevant to your niche. If you succeed in getting position 0, it will do wonders for your brand. The result doesn’t just show a link; it also pulls content from a page.
You may wonder why we call this the ‘position 0’. Because it even beats the first ranking to appear on the top. With all the search engine optimizations taking the digital marketing industry by storm, this is something which can improve your brand image in the digital world. The featured snippet will not always be the position 1, but it will surely be the first thing you see on a page.
Why should you aim for position 0
The obvious answer to this question is that your website will reign supreme in the search result pages, drawing hundreds of visitors over to your site.
Moreover, these featured boxes are different than usual search results. For desktop users, they show up in the shape of a box. For mobile users, they show up as a carousel (the mobile navigation is still at work). Google is improving these snippets more now because user satisfaction is the first concern of the search engine. If the overall SEO of your site is not up to par, there are lesser chances of your pages to appear on position 0.
While PPC Ads give the impression of paid search results, snippets appear to the user as if Google has highlighted the best answer for them. It is a good thing for the savvy optimizer working day and night to achieve position 0.
Position 0 best practices
If so far, you are intrigued by the idea of killing two birds with one stone; aka featured snippets and the possibility to rank in one; you must be thinking how to get in on this secret. However, the answer to this riddle is not complicated like other SEO efforts.
To appear on a featured snippet, you have to take care of two things:
1. Your page must be optimized to rank organically
2. Your content should answer user queries
Before you figure out technical aspects of ranking, you should figure out whether the position 0 is for you or not. Is it going to help your brand in the best way? How is it going to achieve your business goals? If the strategy does not fit the needs of your business, you shouldn’t optimize for rich answers. For example, if you are a small local business, snippets are not for you. Instead, focus on Google Maps and Business listings.
In a study by STAT, they analyzed 92,000 queries to check the pattern of featured snippets. The highest rated snippets came from the following topics:
The lowest ranked snippets came from the following:
If your digital marketing strategy requires rich answers and snippets, you may proceed to the next step.
First, review the pages on your site which have already ranked organically. Google prefers websites which have an organic ranking in the SERPs. Use an SEO tool of your liking to analyze your site for content.
“Even if your product is an epitome of top-notch innovation, you need outstanding content that can keep the targeted customers’ attention long enough to convince them to buy your product.”-P&C
Break down the SEO status of your pages, list the top pages which often appear in search results. Snippet optimization is very tricky. You have to monitor the success of your efforts and its impact on your conversions periodically.
Since featured snippets appear to answer a question, focus on content that answers the questions of who, what, how, when, or why. The best way to get ideas about content is to enter the keyword in Google and go through the search results. They will provide a relatively accurate view of topics which are trending in your niche. Use one of the who, what and why to narrow down your content creation process.
Don’t forget video content on your pages. It gives you a chance to show a video on the snippet rooting back to your website.
65% of people watch at least three-quarters of a video, and 59% of executives believe that people are more likely to watch a video if they combine text with video.
Your content marketing process will borrow a lot from keyword research. Do your keyword research to create content and target users. You can rank in a featured box by using keywords.
Position 0 does not ensure Position 1
As mentioned before, you can’t have the top ranking if your link ended up in a featured box. Moz cleared this confusion for users. They found the featured boxes ranking on any number on the first page. Google checks the relevancy of your content to a search term, and the first ranking is chosen on that basis. Whereas, featured answers are the best answer to the query, while position 1 is the organic result for that same question.
However, if you are ranking on the position 0, it is easier to rank as the first search result. Google regularly indexes third party websites and extracts their data Timeliness is also an essential factor. You can’t rank in featured results if your post has an outdated reply.
Keep in mind that having an image on your page is crucial for your snippet. The ‘alt’ tag in your images is very useful in getting featured. Google shows images in a featured box, even if that picture comes with a list. If you don’t add photos to your page, Google will rank another website which has photos. Google may also show pictures in your snippet from another site, which is the last thing a website owner wants.
Whenever Google updates its SEO practices, you must make improvements on your pages. The optimization should be top-notch on your end. Make your featured snippets stand out by:
- Writing content in list format so they can show up in a box
- Create tables which can show up on a carousel with an aspect ratio of 4:3
- Use landscape images which is the most common version used in snippets
- Write paragraphs in the 40-60 range so that Google can extract easily
- If you are targeting question-based keywords, write short answers in each section
- How-phrases work well because a user is bound to enter them when searching for a query
Google updates must be kept in mind when improving your pages for position 0. Keep an eye on the Click Through Rates (CTRs), Bounce Rates, page load speed and user traffic on your site.
Make sure your website is doing well on the SERPs before you try your luck with snippets. Once you prepare for a snippet, check your site and load speed of snippet pages.
Featured snippet ranking is hard to achieve if you don’t do the required research. Your users access the web with a particular intent in mind, typing queries about your niche. The first step when marketing any business involves the creation of a user persona. The same user persona will help you rank in Position 0. Test the elements which work and eliminate the factors which are a hurdle in the path of good rankings.
Speed up your website to improve responsiveness, test the result and wait for changes to occur in the next 18-24 hours. Content optimization will help, but it does not ensure that the snippet will remain in its place forever. You have to monitor the snippets and keep boosting your keyword strategy.
Always keeping up with Google updates is not possible so that you can focus on one feature at a time. If featured snippets seem difficult for you to achieve and your SEO score is getting affected, don’t proceed until your SEO is back on track.
Earning a rich snippet for your website means your website got the position 0, which is the highest possible ranking for a web page.