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  • Position Zero

    SEO Position Zero: What It is and How to Rank for Position 0

    When it comes to SEO, everyone aims for the same thing: to get to the top of the search engines results page.

    Google shows 10 search results per page and the higher you are on that list, the more people find your website. 

    But some searches produce featured snippets that float above the other 10 website listings.

    We call this position zero, and in this post we will explain what it is and how you can rank for it. 

    What is Position Zero?

    Position zero is a featured snippet that appears above the traditional search engine results.

    Here’s an example:

    position zero

    Usually, it is a direct answer to a search query.

    Featured snippets pull information directly from websites for convenience. That way, viewers get their answer at a glance. Then they can learn more by visiting the website.

    Featured Snippets stand out not only because they sit above the rest of the search results but because they are encased by borders. It’s Google’s way of saying this is the golden SERP spot.

    Featured snippets usually contain one listing, but in some cases they contain more than one.

    Why Aim for Position Zero?

    Now that you know what position zero is, let’s discuss why you should try to rank for it. 

    In many ways, trying to get your web pages to list at position zero is a no brainer. Who doesn’t want to be at the top of the search engine results page? But to appreciate the full impact of reaching position zero, consider the following:

    • Position zero drives traffic. Plain and simple. The amount of web traffic you gain simply by being the top search result cannot be overstated. When position zero was first introduced, many webmasters feared it would lead to less traffic because searchers can get the information they need without clicking. But that didn’t happen. Viewers click on featured snippet websites more because they trust the site faster and want to learn more. 
    • Position Zero helps you appear on voice searches. These days, people use smart technology more than ever. Voice Assistants like Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa are commonplace in many homes. And smartphones all have voice search capability. Ranking for position zero often means your web page is the voice search answer to a given question. So it makes sense to target featured snippets even if it’s just for voice search visibility. 
    • 12% of search results contain position zero results. Not every search query has a featured snippet, but 12% is a substantial amount. There are ample and often overlooked opportunities in position zero listings. Most featured snippets come in the form of instructions, recipes, and answers to how-to questions. In short, you’re more likely to capture a position zero result with a question/answer piece of content. 
    • Position zero snippets steal traffic from other top search results. At the end of the day, position zero claims a significant amount of traffic on SERPs. If you let competitors rank for position zero, they will take that traffic away from you. Featured snippets simply subordinate all other search results. 
    Source: https://ahrefs.com/blog/featured-snippets-study/

    When it comes to ranking in search engines, it simply doesn’t get any better than position zero. But most don’t know about it. It’s a little understood hidden gem waiting to be capitalized on. 

    How to Get to Position Zero

    The tricky part is earning the featured snippet position. While there is no simple method, the following tips will help you get you on the right track.

    Featured Snippet Forms

    First of all, featured snippets come in three main forms: paragraphs, lists, tables, and videos. 

    A paragraph snippet usually answers a question objectively and succinctly. A paragraph snippet typically gives a definition or a brief bit of information on a topic like why we dream while sleeping, for example. You should know that Google gives preference to answers with 40 to 50 words. This is relatively short. So if your answer to the target keyword is much longer, don’t count on it as position zero candidate. 

    As the name suggests, a list snippet is formatted as a list, whether bulleted or numbered, ordered or unordered, ranked or unranked. Often, list snippets show steps to a process or rank things like the richest people in the world, for example. They are ideal for featured snippets because they provide easily digestible information. 

    Table snippets are similar to list snippets, except they have rows and columns. So in a way, they can offer even more information at a glance. Examples of table snippets include the cost of living in Texas or the superbowl scores. 

    Finally, video snippets are video segment previews taken directly from YouTube. Google even timestamps the portion of the video that applies to the searched keyword. That way, you can cut straight to the chase if you choose to click play. To rank for a video snippet, make sure the video includes a voiceover or transcript because Google uses them to generate featured video snippets. Though not as common as other forms, video snippets can be a good way to attract traffic to your site

    No matter what kind of featured snippet content you aim for, it’s important to format it as either a paragraph, list, table, or video. Paragraph snippets are by far the most common kind of featured snippet, but list and table snippets make up a considerable amount, too.

    Source: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/featured-snippets-types/219907/#close

    Featured Snippet Content Types

    In addition to its different forms, featured snippets contain different types of content. Here are the most common types of content you will find: 

    • An answer to one of the 5W questions (Who, What, When, Where, and Why). When people have a question and want a quick answer, they just type the question into the search engine. Google knows this. So they curate featured snippets that most directly answer the question. Come up with 5W questions relevant to your product and you can direct more search traffic to your site.
    • A how-to tutorial. These days, you can learn how to do just about anything online. People google things before asking experts in person. If your content can give instructions to common “how to” queries, you can compete for that featured snippet position.
    • A definition. Think of the last time you opened up a physical dictionary. Probably not in a long time. That’s because it’s much easier to search for definitions online. Google displays all kinds of definitions as featured snippets because it knows some users want the definition to a word and that’s it. Obviously, online dictionaries have an advantage here, but if you can provide definitions to industry-specific terms, you could be on your way to a position zero listing.  
    • A comparison. Humans compare everything: cars, teams, jobs, you name it. Comparisons make for good featured snippets because they lend themselves to tables. Google shows the vital data, and visitors interpret it how they want.
    • Price or cost Information. Many people are savvy online shoppers. After all, the internet is the easiest place to start shopping. With featured snippets, Google can display prices in a heartbeat. So if you have some concrete price information, why not package it a succinct way to attract Google’s attention? 
    • Top or best lists. Whether it’s the best places to raise a family or the top grossing movies this year, a featured snippet will have the information. Tap into this free SERP real estate by making top or best lists. The possibilities are endless. 

    Content Strategies

    Now that you know the different featured snippet forms and content types to aim for, here are some content strategies to help you even more in ranking at position zero: 

    • Identify Position Zero opportunities. Not every keyword search has a featured snippet. So you need to actively identify search queries that already have one and see if you can “dethrone” it. Queries that don’t already have a featured snippet are unlikely to rank for one. So start where you know there is potential.
    • Think like a consumer. What are things people in your target market would search for? If you were on the hunt for a quick answer, what would you type in the search bar? Thinking like a consumer is the shortcut to identifying the right keywords. Once you have the right keywords, the process for reaching position zero is more straightforward. 
    • Answer a specific question. Featured snippets are meant to give quick answers. So if you want your site to be at position zero, your content needs to answer a specific question. The more directly it answers that question, the more convenient it is for Google to pick up in a featured snippet.
    • Target long-tail keywords of at least six words. When consumers search for a specific answer, they type in a question or words that imply a question. Such questions usually require longer keyword phrases. So if you target long-tail keywords and follow good SEO principles, you might rank as the premier answer to a common question. 
    • Consider keywords you already rank high for. Why not start with keywords you already rank for? This means you are that much closer to position zero, and you don’t have to start completely from scratch. Simply take a keyword you rank well for and think about how you can optimize it for one of the featured snippet forms or content types discussed. 
    • Choose evergreen topics. Some topics age better than others. To get the most out of your web pages, aim for content that stays relevant. Sure, you can cover a timely issue here and there, but the majority of your content should be stuff people will always be interested in. It’s also the kind of content that gets featured in snippets. 
    • Unpack the topic for total beginners. You might know a lot about a subject, but that doesn’t mean your visitors do. So explain the topic from square one. You are more likely to lose visitors by explaining too little than by explaining too much. And Google wants to feature content that retains the most amount of viewers. 
    • Write content that is at least 2000 words. Google looks for quality content. So even if your featured snippet is 40 to 50 words, Google wants the rest of the content to be quality stuff. They favor thorough over superficial content every time. If you want to fall into the former camp, you need to make sure your content is at least 2000 words long. Otherwise, Google assumes your content doesn’t adequately cover the subject.
    • Optimize for on-site and off-site SEO. On-site SEO (search engine optimization) means optimizing things on your website, like titles, images, internal links etc. Off-site SEO means optimizing what happens in the background of your website. This is mainly a matter of external link building. The more reputable sites link to yours, the higher Google ranks you. Optimizing for both on-site and off-site SEO will boost your chances of being ranked for position zero. It’s actually a great probability to rank without backlinks in position zero, the likelihood is much greater if you actually get out and build some links. 

    Whatever you do, aim to have your position zero content please readers. After all, Google’s ranking factors are designed with people in mind. They just want to satisfy search intent. So don’t get too bogged down trying to write for SEO. Write for humans. And if humans like it, Google will follow suit and maybe even feature you in a snippet. 

    Working with SEO.co

    You don’t need to reach position zero for every target keyword, but pursuing the right position zero opportunities will easily boost your online visibility. It’s just a matter of knowing which keywords to aim for and how to optimize them for a featured snippet.

    If you don’t have the time or resources to rank for position zero content, that’s okay too. We can do the work for you. 

    Here at SEO.co, we know what makes for quality content that Google features in snippets. Plus, we can help you with any and all of your SEO needs. Share your online marketing goals with us, and we can help make it a reality for growing your online business. Contact us today to get started. 



    Chief Revenue Officer at SEO Company
    Industry veteran Timothy Carter is SEO.co’s Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue for the company and oversees all customer-facing teams for SEO (search engine optimization) services - including sales, marketing & customer success. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & Digital Marketing, assisting in everything from SEO for lawyers to complex technical SEO for Fortune 500 clients like Wiley, Box.com, Qualtrics and HP.

    Tim holds expertise in building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams.

    When he's not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach...preferably in Hawaii.

    Over the years he's written for publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, ReadWrite and other highly respected online publications. Connect with Tim on Linkedin & Twitter.
    Timothy Carter