Google’s featured snippets, also known as the zero position on search results pages, should be a part of any search engine marketing strategy. While page authority and relevance factory greatly into your organic ranking, the zero ranking is all about finding the best answer to search queries. If you can score a featured snippet from your article or page, it’s like having a free ad at the top of the search results.
What is the Zero Position in Google Search Results?
Featured snippets appear above the organic results, and just below any search ads. These snippets are extracted from your page by Google’s algorithm to display the best possible answer to a search query.
Alt: The zero position in Google’s search results appears below search ads and above organic results. Google extracts the most relevant bits of content and formats them in a large, featured box with any relevant images and a link to the page.
What are the Advantages of Ranking in the Zero Position?
The obvious advantage is being at the top of the search results with a bigger box that holds more content and even images. But there are more significant advantages to the digital advertiser or content marketer.
According to a 2016 HubSpot study, a featured snippet can achieve click-through-rate increases of 114% even when the page is already ranking number 1 in the organic results.
In fact, STAT has shown that 30% of featured snippets come from pages ranking in the first position, and pages ranking in the top ten account for nearly all featured snippets.
This trend suggests that ranking in zero position is the best combination of authority, relevance, and quality in content. For any advertiser or marketer, this is surely a goal to have in mind when creating any type of content.
How to Get the Zero Position for Your Content
To achieve the zero position and get your own featured snippet, your content needs to be relevant, high quality, and answer a specific question with a concise and actionable answer.
Google is smarter than you know. Backlinks, keywords, and metadata hacks will not achieve anything. Their algorithm has advanced considerably and is essentially like a very smart human editor who is analyzing your content for relevance, authority, and the quality of your answers.
That said, there is a process you can follow that will get you on the right path, and with some follow up testing, trial, and error, you can work towards a zero position for your content.
Determine the question you want to answer.
The first step is determining the right question to answer, from a business standpoint and an audience or customer standpoint.
For example, if your goal is to increase free trial subscriptions for your task management software, you might target “how to manage projects.” The question should always be specific enough not to compete with Google’s Knowledge Graph, which automatically answers straightforward questions, such as “When is Christmas day?”
Alt: This featured snippet of plan.io offers a simple list of steps to manage a project as an answer to the question, which Google has extracted from their article based on the quality of the answer.
The question you choose to answer should, like plan.io, be directly related to the use of your product and your audience’s interests.
Provide the Best Possible Answer to the Question.
In the above-featured snippet for plan.io’s article on project management, Google has extracted a simple list from the article. This list gives the searcher a nice overview of what the article includes and can pique their attention to click through to learn more—a lot more context than a basic search result can provide.
Your article should include the best possible answer to the question early on, in the most concise and direct way possible. Remember, Google is going to extract this answer and place it in the featured snippet box, so the easier it is to find, and the more direct it is, the better.
Research your competition and brainstorm ways to answer the question even better.
One way to think about this is answering the phrasing of the question correctly. For example, if it’s a why question, provide a concise explanation. If it’s a how question, you probably want to outline a process (as in the example above).
Determine the Best Page or Post to Place Your Answer
Especially if you’re trying to win a zero position or improve the ranking of existing content on your site, aligning the right page with the right answer is imperative.
A trick to find the best possible page is using the site:yoursite.com “question” formula to see which page Google determines is the most relevant to the question.
Alt: Using the site:url plus query in quotes will limit a search to a specific website for an answer to a question. This will give you the best idea of where opportunities are in your existing content to hit the zero position more quickly.
This will give you a better idea of where to target existing content for the featured snippet for a specific question, or let you know you need to create a new page or post.
Write Your Best, Be the Best
The search marketing game is all about user experience. Your site performance, security, and above all the quality of your content determine your ranking. This is great news for most of us because it means that simply researching and developing the best possible content for your audience puts you in the running for the top of the page.
Experiment with writing and rewriting answers to the most important questions for your customers or audience, and in doing so you’ll gradually improve your experience and have a better chance at becoming the authority in your realm of expertise.
About the Author:
Darius is a content marketer with a passion for empowering people to create their dreams with MOJO Marketplace and WP Live.