Ask anyone who has devoted time and effort into building up their SEO what their ultimate goal is, and the answer will likely be “position one on Google”. Search engine optimization is key in digital marketing and the right strategy can quickly increase your visibility in the digital universe, but it’s difficult to really get the traction you need without a achieving a prime spot in search results.
While the focus of your search engine marketing should remain on achieving a priority ranking, there’s another spot on Google search results that you should be paying attention to – position zero.
Position zero, more formally known as a featured snippet, is a great way for businesses to capture the attention of an audience with a specific need or question. Just for a minute, let’s take the focus off of position one and talk about why position zero is the target for SEO in 2018.
What Is a Featured Snippet
If there’s one thing that Google wants, it’s happy users. They realize that a higher level of satisfaction means that users will continue flocking to the search engine and that their monstrous revenue stream is guaranteed to keep flowing. So, they’re always looking for ways to improve their user experience. The introduction of featured snippets a few years back was a step to simplify the search query process – something that search engine users desperately wanted.
A featured snippet is a box of text that appears at the top of the search engine results page – above position one. The purpose of a featured snippet is to answer a search query right there on the spot, without the user needing to navigate through multiple sites in hopes of finding what they’re looking for.
Not every search result will have a featured snippet, but a growing number of them do. It’s estimated that currently about a third of search queries will include a featured snippet, and having your content appear in one is a door opener for brands looking to gain visibility and generate more traffic.
Gaining entry into position zero isn’t just a matter of optimizing every SEM trick in the book. In fact, the content that’s featured in position zero isn’t necessarily the top ranking page result for the search query. It’s just that when Google was digging around, they found this particular chunk of content well suited for answering a specific query.
Achieving Position Zero
There’s some back and forth among marketing experts about the value of the position zero spot. Some claim that position one still outranks a featured snippet in terms of clicks, while others are saying they’ve seen clicks and traffic take a nosedive thanks to a featured snippet appearing on the results pages of their customers most common queries.
Whatever your perspective, featured snippets have a dual advantage of solving an immediate need and standing out from a visual standpoint. This means they get attention, and while whether or not they get clicked on depends on the user’s goal, the fact remains that it was the first thing the search engine user seen and there’s a good chance the brand attached to a featured snippet will stay on their minds.
Another reason that featured snippets have become so important is the mobile user. Many times, mobile users don’t have the luxury of scrolling through until the find just the right landing spot. They want quick answers and also results that are specific to their voice searches. Featured snippets have proven successful in meeting these needs.
So, how do you achieve this illustrious position zero spot? Well, Google is ever elusive and not really forthcoming with the ranking factors used for featured snippets. We do know that it’s a different process than the standard 200+ SEO ranking factors that everyone in the world of digital marketing has become familiar with.
We also know that when Google crawls around and indexes sites to rank them, they’re looking at more complex metrics than what they are for featured snippets. There’s an endless variety of reasons someone visits a site, and therefore Google tries it’s best to make the best matches possible. With featured snippets, the goal is to find distinct answers to common questions. There’s really nothing too mysterious about this, except that we’re still learning what stands out in Google’s algorithm.
Tips for Landing a Featured Snippet
Here’s what we know – featured snippets answer questions, usually in the form of who, what, when, where or why. They also tend to appear on results pages for high traffic terms and overreaching topics. The first step to optimizing your chances at being featured in position zero is to leverage your analytics and discover which of your audience’s search queries are producing results with a featured snippet.
From there, it’s about learning how to optimize your content to stand out in Google’s analytics. For example, while featured snippets answer the 5W questions, the terms “how” and “have” far outperformed the others in position zero entries.
One of the best places to look for future featured snippet content is your FAQ page. For example, you can leverage keyword performance to determine the questions your audience has and then build a FAQ page around those queries. Featuring each answer in a separate window is also a way to make a distinction within your content, making it easy for Google to pick up on it.
You’ll also want to look at word count and format. Featured snippets aren’t lengthy pieces of literature. On average, they range from about 40-50 words and often feature bullet points and lists that make them easy to read and digest for the mobile user.
The thing about featured snippets is that they’re constantly fluid. The same search query performed twice, just a day apart, might produce different featured snippets. There’s a lot of trial and error in finding the sweet spot. Unlike other strategies – such as local SEO - position zero is a little more slippery, or elusive. However, landing there can provide a major boost of traffic directed toward your site.
A Digital Team That Can Help
Are you ready to see the results of landing in position zero? We have a digital team that knows a secret or two that will get you there. Contact Knowmad today and let’s talk about how featured snippets are important for the future of your business and what we can do to help you achieve success.
William McKee is a founding partner of Knowmad. As a Web architect & Internet business consultant, he is passionate about applying business knowledge & technical expertise to deliver solutions that advance business online. With over 15 years of Web experience, his current work involves designing strategies and creating processes to help business attract, engage and convert website visitors into customers.