The Race for Position Zero

Race to position Zero

If you’re like most people, you probably thought Rank #1 was the pole-position: the absolute best place to be in any search result.

But there’s a superior position: Position Zero. That’s where you’ll find Google’s new “featured” snippet. These snippets take up a lot of real estate at the very top of the page and are singled out in their own special box. Often, they’ll contain all or most of the information you need to answer your search query. They draw the eye and make Position 1 search results look irrelevant by contrast, all while offering instant credibility and clicks.

Just how awesome are featured snippets, anyway?

They’re awesome enough that they’re likely to become mission critical when it comes to ensuring our client’s success.

We have numbers to back up this assumption. For example, search expert Glenn Gabe managed to score a snippet for one of his clients. He saw a 13.2% CTR increase as well as 41,444 extra visitors. These visitors accounted for 73% of total Google traffic for that page until the snippet was lost once more.

They’re fickle…it seems snippet results like to weave in and out of Position Zero like phantoms in the night. Nevertheless, these are phantoms we’re going to want to chase.

Note: any of our clients can win rich snippets.

Don’t assume it’s not possible just because we are dealing with a smaller client, or a more localized one. Google does not discriminate against any source of information so long as the source is successful at delivering the information people need.

How can we snag Position Zero?

For one thing…we’re not going to get hung up on structured data, at least, no more so than usual. We’ve learned Google doesn’t pay attention to structured data for the purposes of creating featured snippets.

Improving client search rankings won’t get the job done either. We might want to do that for other reasons, but it’s not going to be because snippets are awesome. Google merrily plucks snippets from pages sitting at all kinds of search rank positions. It’s not unheard of for a featured snippet to come from the 10th search result.

Instead, we’ve got to focus on the content.

First, we must figure out what kinds of questions our customers are asking. While Google doesn’t require a question-query to display a snippet result, we do know that featured snippets do tend to be the ones which answer implied questions. Digging into these questions will give us the intel we need to craft snippet-friendly content.

Snippet-friendly content tends to be a nicely formatted chunk of 40-50 words that answers an implied question. The specific format doesn’t matter: bullets, paragraphs, snappy limericks…they’re all fair game. The ability to deliver and communicate information does matter, however, and nice formatting doesn’t hurt, especially if there’s a helpful picture attached to the content.

Both elements are necessary to summon the third, the one we can’t directly control, CTR. As with AdWords copy, Google relies heavily upon click through rates to determine just how relevant any given snippet is. If CTRs plummet, then Position Zero is lost.

Maintaining high CTRs is a balancing act.

Answer the question too quickly and your CTR rates will plummet. This might seem counter-intuitive, but the reason is simple: it’s because your audience will get all the answers it needs from that one little snippet.

Thus, we’re going to want to try to give the fast, incomplete answer to demonstrate we know what we’re doing, even as we drop tantalizing hints that we’ve got a lot more for people to explore when they click on our page. And since we don’t know which of our content is going to be “snipped” we’ll want to present a great deal of our content in a way that creates this impression. Most content should include a concise, snip-friendly intro or sidebar section which offers information without giving the farm away. We’ve included a handy example below.

What is Position Zero?

In Google Search, Position Zero refers to the “featured snippet” found at the top of the page. Webmasters have a good chance of reaching position zero if they:

  • Offer concise content (40-50 words).
  • Anticipates and answers user questions.
  • Easy to read at a glance.

We can’t control whether Google would pick up that segment, but we’ve just increased our chances.

The section above is “snip-friendly.” People who are satisfying idle curiosity probably won’t click any further…but people who need to know more about how to increase their own chances of entering Position Zero will. We can’t control whether Google would pick up such a snippet, of course…but we’ve at least improved our odds by making it as easy as possible for the search giant to do so.

May the odds be ever in our favor.


Fair Marketing