Holy Grail to Position 1 on Google

Ranking for position #1 is no longer the winning goal when it comes to search engine optimisation. The goal post has shifted and SEO’s (Search Engine Optimizers) are now fighting for that golden spot known as position #0.

What is position Zero?

Position zero is what the SEO industry refers to when speaking about the Featured Snippets which appears above the first conventional listing on the Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and applies mostly to question-based queries. When Google detects that a user has asked a question, it will try to find those pages that are likely to best answer the users question and displays those as a result above the conventional search results.

Benefits of ranking in position zero:

1. Increased Visibility

If you are already ranking in the top three positions for a conventional result on the SERP, you are eligible to appear in position zero. If you appear in both the conventional result and the featured snippet, you instantly gain more visibility. If you have a paid listing appearing for the same search result as well, you will have achieved substantially valuable real-estate space on the first page of the Google SERP.

2. Increased Traffic

In addition to achieving maximum visibility, studies have shown an increase in click-thru’s to the website which means an instant boost in organic traffic to the website. Studies have shown that ranking in position zero may result a boost of over 114% in click-thrus from popular organic searches.

3. Increased Credibility

As Google enhances the Rich Snippet result, it automatically draws attention to the listing; and when user’s see your website as Google’s choice to display in response to a query, they automatically assume that your website must be the most reliable and credible website to answer their question.

4. Increase Market Share

There has been a significant increase in the number of voice searches performed by users. If you have optimized for Featured Snippets, you will be eligible to appear for conversational voice searches. Read more about how to optimize for voice search here which immediately increases your opportunity to capture more market share from organic searches.

What does Position Zero look like?

Position zero may appear in a number of different formats for various types of content, however the most commonly seen snippets include the paragraph and list formats as illustrated below:

1. Paragraph Format – Rich Snippet
Paragraph snippets usually display an answer to a ‘what’ or ‘where’ type query and may sometimes include an image alongside the paragraph. Google attempts to display the answer in the snippet box and includes a link to the URL where it found the answer.

Example of Rich Snippet Paragraph

About this result: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6229325?hl=en

2. Lists Format – Rich Answers
Rich Answer snippets usually display when a user has asked a ‘how to’ type query, and may also include an image alongside the paragraph. As with the paragraph snippet, Google attempts to display an answer to the question by listing previews of the steps involved in addressing the user’s question directly in the snippet box; in either a numbered or bulleted list format.

Example of Rich Answer without image

How to optimize your website to rank for Position Zero

The Holy Grail to ranking in position zero is Schema mark-up. However, before you can start optimizing for Rich Snippets, you need to understand that you are optimizing for user intent queries as opposed to keyword phrases.

Once you understand what questions your users are likely to ask on Google (whether typing in a text query or doing a voice search), you need to create content on your website that will address these types of queries. Make sure that you include lists or steps in the content and try to keep each step to fourteen words or less to assist Google in better displaying the snippet without truncating key information in a step. Read more about how to optimize your website for conversational and voice search here.

Once your content is ready, you need to apply structured data mark-up using Schema.org. The purpose of Schema mark-up is to tag information through entities by wrapping every question with schema to help Google understand the context of the question and answer.

More information on structured data mark-up:

Google provides useful guidelines to developers on how to mark-up your content with structured data for articles, book reviews, events, local businesses, movies, products, restaurants, software applications and more.
Contact us should you require assistance with Rich Snippet Optimization.

Author: Gillian Meier, CEO at BlueMagnet