For many businesses the goal is to get their business to position number 1 on Google, but did you know that there’s a new top spot on Google called position zero. You’ve probably noticed these results but maybe not understood them properly. Position zero is all about using featured snippets to give an informative answer to a user’s query. It’s not uncommon for the results that are further down the first page listings to be featured in position zero.
How do I rank in position zero?
In order to answer this question, we’ll first need to take a look at featured snippets to understand what they are and how they work. Featured snippets get their name because they appear above the search results and contain the URL, page title and a snippet of the page content that aims to answer the user’s question directly.
Google automatically detects which pages answer the users’ query automatically and then display the top result as a featured snippet at the top of the page. This is Google’s way of trying to help users to quickly find what they want by providing them with a snippet of information directly in the search results.
There are different ways that snippets are shown in the search results and these depend on the user’s query. Some of the most common examples include:
List type of featured snippet:
Paragraph featured snippet:
So now we know what featured snippets look like and what they are let’s take a look at how you can optimise your site to take advantage of these in an effort to get your site listed in position zero.
Featured snippet opportunities
The first step to ranking in position zero is to look at whether there are any opportunities for your business to gain a featured snippet. While Google is continuing to increase the number of featured snippets that it shows there are some common areas where featured snippets are shown. These types of searches include:
Generally speaking where a user is asking a question as part of their search query the results will return a featured snippet. In order to find opportunities for featured snippets we need to go back to keyword research to find suitable terms, the higher volume key phrases should be used as a basis for further research as you’ll then often see better opportunities in the “People also ask” section with more specific questions being asked that offer much better opportunities for featured snippets.
The example below shows a broad keyword search that also displays “People also ask” question section with the answers all provided by featured snippets:
Optimising your site for featured snippets
Once you’ve identified opportunities you’ll want to decide on whether to create a new page from scratch or to make changes and improvements to one of your current web pages. Google is looking for answers to the user’s query that provides the answer to the question in a succinct manner. Formatting your HTML and providing content that clearly answers the question will help you rank well.
The layout below will help to improve your chances of being chosen as a featured snippet:
Use the question or a close variant that you want to rank for as a heading on your page. In a paragraph tag below this heading, you should provide a concise and clear answer to the question above – where possible aim for between 40 and 55 words as this is the limit for featured snippets to be displayed.
Following this summary, you should then provide a more detailed answer to the question including as much information as possible with data to support your answer, images and any other relevant information. By doing this you’re making sure the page is as relevant as possible to the search query which will help the page rank better in the search engines.
For list-style answers don’t forget to use the relevant list tags so for a bullet list then an unordered list is best, while one that requires a sequence of steps an ordered list should be used. The HTML formatting will help Google pick up the relevant sections and then format this in their search results page. By giving the relevant information first in a short summary you’ll greatly improve your chances of your page being chosen as a featured snippet.