Is there a search platform today that’s more influential, more all-powerful than Google? Technology continues evolving at an extremely rapid pace and yet, Google search queries are here to stay. We don’t just trust the results of Google searches. We rely on and value them. And if you’ve got a business that you’re hoping more people can be exposed to online, Google is one area you just can’t sidestep.
Let’s discuss what it means to rank at the very top of search results, specifically to get to Google’s (relatively recent) “Position Zero.”
How First-Page Google Rankings Will Help You
First, it’s worth being reminded of the different goals that you achieve for your business by getting your website to rank on Page 1 of various Google searches.
1. Improve Web Traffic & Site Visibility
The best way to illustrate this is by pretending your website was a brick-and-mortar store. If you were given a choice between positioning your store on the main road that goes through town or somewhere along a quiet side street, which option would you choose? It’s surely the former. It’s only natural to pick the location that most people are likely going to pass through and come across your shop.
Considering how 167 billion searches are made every month, getting first-page rankings on Google for your website is the digital-world equivalent of placing your store on the busiest street in town. Conversely, by not having your site land on any first pages, you put your business at a significant disadvantage in terms of web traffic and site visibility. In fact, any first page of a Google search result, on average, captures at least 71% of online traffic. The next page ends up being far from a close second, dropping to a mere 6% of website clicks. That steep decline alone emphasizes how important coming up on Page 1 is.
2. Generate More Leads & Speed Up Sales
Here’s the reality. These days, consumers online have lots of different options to select, as well as access to the necessary tools and information to discover, properly vet, and make their decision on whether or not to buy from a business. It all starts with a Google search oftentimes. Your efforts to have your site rank high Google will yield the foundation for more opportunities to engage with your target audience, nurture your leads, and also stay at the top of their minds.
According to Adweek, 81% of today’s shoppers do research online before they buy things. So if you take into account that there are as many Google first pages as there are search queries made, there is no more efficient way to speed up your sales cycle and draw in all those top-of-funnel leads than by harnessing the first-page ranking potential of your website.
3. Increase Click-Through Rate (CTR), Particularly For Results At The Top
As you know by now, Google indeed captures the majority of traffic online. But apart from the benefits of ranking on Page 1 of search results, it’s also worth noting that there are significant differences in click-through rate (CTR) among actual items listed on the first page. A Smart Insights study shows the following click-through rates by Google position:
• 1st result: 36.4% CTR
• 2nd result: 12.5% CTR
• 3rd result: 9.5% CTR
The CTR drastically increases for each result that’s further down within the page. And that should provide enough incentive for you to not just work towards Page 1 rankings, but more importantly, towards top-of-the-first-page rankings.
4. Build More Trustworthiness & Credibility For Your Website
By ranking on first pages, this effectively also means that your website is deemed a credible, trustworthy, and reliable source of information for search query users – in the eyes of Google. This is because Google’s algorithm has been designed to recognize low-quality, spammy, or suspicious content, which it then “penalizes” by ranking those sites very low on various search results, if not by giving them no ranking at all.
Basically, if your website consistently emerges on the first page of search results, that means it has earned Google’s trust, and consumers are far more inclined to trust businesses with sites that Google trusts.
What To Know About SERP “Position Zero”
Everything changes quickly in the digital space. And since the time about two years ago, when Google introduced the “featured snippet” – which is the more common moniker for “Position Zero” – focusing on getting listed as #1 on Page 1 has stopped being the ultimate goal.
The very top results on Google searches now occupy Position Zero boxes, which people come across quite often in their search queries. How so? When they search for something on google, usually something that’s phrased as a question, they are greeted with a box above the normal list of organic results. This box can contain a paragraph, a table, or a thumbnail of a video that can be viewed on YouTube, and it’s meant to be the best quick ‘answer’ chosen by Google in response to the search query. That’s your featured snippet.
The main objective of these featured snippets is for Google to provide accurate answers to commonly asked questions when people make search queries. If Google decides to delegate as a featured snippet your web page, blog article, infographic, or link to a video on your website or YouTube channel, you’re essentially snagging the prime real estate on Page 1. And indeed, Position Zero has become a real game-changer. Marketers and SEO platforms such as Ahrefs have found that featured snippets are consistently stealing clicks from their number-one ranking organic counterparts.
Being the first listed web page for any search result is an achievement in itself, but the fact is getting to Position Zero is even better from a marketing perspective. It grants your business absolute, immediate exposure – as the box format practically ‘highlights’ your content – and heightens your credibility. Position Zero is pretty much the podium prize, an affirmation that Google legitimately trusts you, and therefore, so should the people who search for things and see your content straight away. So yes, it’s surely worth the effort to get there.
Types Of Answers Displayed In Position Zero
Since the existence of featured snippets, Google has gradually adapted to show what is now a range of different answer types. Certain forms of content tend to be more fitting than others for Position Zero. So whenever you type commonly asked questions on Google, you’re likely going to see any of the following as featured snippets:
• Single paragraphs (typically under 50 words in length) to define terms or answer specific who, what, when, where, and why questions
• Bulleted or numbered lists (designed as how-tos, instructions, recipes)
• Tables or charts (for values, numerical data, comparisons)
• Images (particularly detailed images such as infographics)
• Video content (usually from YouTube)
• Carousels (which allow for question refinement)
Making Your Content Worth of Position Zero
For your website to attain Position Zero in certain search results, you should know that there are specific strategies that vary for each type of content format. When it comes to a paragraph directly answering a question, for instance, the recommended format of your content would go as follows:
• Ask the question in your subheader
• Follow that question immediately with a single-paragraph answer
• Further elaborate on your response in the body of the article
Having said that, it’s also important to bear in mind this checklist of good practices to abide by, regardless of the style or format of the content that you’re aiming for Google to designate as a featured snippet.
1. Consider how many words you’ll be using, as in general, Position Zero paragraph-style content comprises approximately 50 words or less. Carefully budget your words.
2. Target commonly asked questions that are likely popping up in search queries, all of which your content should be appropriate for answering. Again, this boils down to thinking about your potential leads, your ideal customers, your target audience, and what queries they’re inclined to perform online.
3. As long as you ensure that they’re appropriate, it’s best to use questions as headers or subheaders in your content. If people are typing questions in their search queries and the questions match a header or subheader of your page, your website ends up with a greater chance of getting Position Zero.
As a reminder, all subheaders should be set as H2 or H3 tags so that Google recognizes these as important. Meanwhile, it’s best to have only one H1 heading, and that should be the main title of the entire article or piece of content.
4. Don’t forget to put yourself in the shoes of Google searchers, especially for choosing how to present your answer. Based on those targeted questions, what kind of information are they seeking? Is it better to have it displayed as a paragraph, a chart, an infographic, a list of items, or maybe a combination of these?
To figure that out more easily, it helps to type the actual questions yourself on Google and see how the current featured snippets (if there are existing ones) look. You can also type out questions worded similarly or encompassing similar items to the questions you’re considering (e.g. “What are the best boots to wear in winter?”, “What is the difference between chinos and khaki pants?”).
5. Whatever the format is for the actual answer that you intend to have Google deem worthy of Position Zero, you want it contained in a page of long-form, quality content. The reason for this is that longer content is great for getting backlinks, and backlinks generally improve the SEO of your website as a whole. Furthermore, readers and visitors to that page are likely to trust your content even more if it’s longer, more informative but still well-written plus easy to read. And in turn, this will keep them engaged and more curious to learn about your products and offerings.
6. Don’t forget about your keywords as well. Ideally, your selected keywords are either identical to, or a portion of, the search questions that you intend to have your content displayed as the featured snippet. You want these keywords integrated into the header and subheaders of your page. Still, you must avoid thoughtlessly stuffing your content with keywords, nonetheless.
Ideal Keywords, Phrases & Questions For Reaching Position Zero
Keywords. They’re the core component of organic SEO. And like them or not, you have to embrace the art of finding them and using them strategically if you do care about getting your website noticed by as many people as possible.
Whether the right keywords in the context of your business are two- or three-worded terms, longer phrases, or actual questions, the best ones are based on feasibility, first and foremost. The most feasible keywords are those your ideal customers type out so they can browse products or services they may need, but that is only part of the formula. Your best keyword candidates can meet all the following criteria as closely as possible:
1. With A High Monthly Search Volume
The term ‘monthly search volume’ means exactly what you think it does: the number of times people type out this particular term in a Google search every month, on average. In order to unearth these notable, high-volume keywords that you can potentially use, platforms like Ahrefs and Semrush will come in handy. The good thing about those tools is that you can tailor your search for popular keywords to a specific location, as in based on a single country or city, to ensure that people in that given area are indeed interested in certain sub-topics of your products or services. Note that Google localizes results by default, which is why this part matters.
2. With A Low Keyword Difficulty (KD) Score
The Keyword Difficulty (KD) of a given keyword indicates how hard it’s going to be for your content to rank at the top of results on Google at this point in time. It runs on a scale from 0-100 and normally, a higher score reflects more competition from other websites – and more businesses that are vying for the attention of the same people you’re targeting. Therefore, you should look out for keywords with a KD of 20 or lower, as those are the easiest and most feasible for getting your content to rank on Position Zero.
3. With A High Business Value
Of course, revenue matters in business. Hence, it can end up being a waste of time and energy if you go for keywords that ultimately don’t drive the kind of traffic that translates into increased sales and revenue. Keywords with a high business value are usually phrased in a way that signals your ideal customers being ready to take action (such as “hire personal injury lawyer” or “make a strawberry cheesecake”).
Nevertheless, you can’t underestimate the challenge of finding the right keywords, search phrases, and questions. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when the goal is finding those with perfectly intersecting traits of high monthly volume, low keyword difficulty, and high business value. That’s why it’s a time-consuming task that requires significant research and planning. But in the end, it’s worth all the effort.
Also, Follow These Good SEO Practices For Your Web Page
Yes, we know how laborious search engine optimization (SEO) can be overall, as necessary as it is. But the silver lining here is that if you’re particular about getting one web page to rank on Position Zero for a given set of keywords and questions, you don’t have to worry about optimizing your entire website at once. You can take it by each individual page, starting with that same page you intend to become a featured snippet. And here are the things you ought to do:
1. Fill In All ‘Meta’ Elements Of The Page
Google’s algorithm comprises bots that crawl the web, and based on their findings, the algorithm ranks the millions of pages currently existing and stores them in an index. In turn, when users type out keywords to search, Google will then scan through its more organized index (instead of the whole web) and reveal the most relevant results. So the first step is making it easy-peasy for Google to scan, index, and retrieve your web page. And this is done by placing keywords in the following places:
Every page and blog article of your site has a meta title. It appears at the top of your page in the form of a header and simultaneously, it’s the title displayed for that page’s listing in search results. Ideally, you want your meta title not just containing the keyword, but also written in a way that’s appealing and striking to whoever comes across your page. You can try using the Coschedule headline analyzer for this.
This is the short blurb that falls underneath the title in Google search results (however, it normally isn’t made visible if the page is used as the featured snippet/Position Zero). Apart from telling Google what this page is about, the meta description quickly lets the searcher know more of what they can expect if they click on your page, which increases relevant clicks to that page.
As familiar as we all are with URLs, we can’t forget their importance. A URL consists of the domain name, followed by a forward slash, and then text that’s separated by dashes. By inserting the keyword into the text following the forward slash, you enable Google to quickly identify what the page is about. Additionally, a clean URL matching the meta title of the page will always look more trustworthy to Google searchers.
Regarding images on your page, Google only detects them if they have a text alternative, also known as ‘alt tag’. By incorporating the keyword in the alt tag of an image, you let Google consider your content as even more relevant, which only increases the chances of it ranking at the top.
2. Ensure Your Content Isn’t Keyword-Stuffed
Again, keywords need to be mentioned in your content as naturally as possible, as opposed to being inserted systemically or excessively to the point that things appear spammy or grammatically unsound. Keyword stuffing is something that Google doesn’t take lightly and if it accuses your page of it, it will wind up far away from Page 1 of results.
3. Make Sure Your Content Is Shareable
Indeed, Google’s algorithm puts a lot of value on backlinks. The more backlinks your website has, the higher you’ll be able to rank, if not rank on Position Zero. Hence, it’s not just about publishing something well-written and of high quality for the sake of credibility. The added benefit is that it’s more likely to be shared by people on various social media channels, provided the ‘share’ buttons for it are enabled and active.
4. Improve The User Experience (Both Desktop & Mobile Versions Of Your Page)
You’ll be hard-pressed to find any website at the top of search results that isn’t reasonably responsive or user-friendly. Google rewards sites that are able to keep their visitors for longer periods of time and keep coming back. That’s why your web page needs intuitive navigation, clear CTAs, and answers to the readers’ most immediate questions. Moreover, being mobile-friendly is just as important. Over half of all website traffic nowadays comes from a mobile device or tablet. Google will naturally check whether your site pages perform well on mobile. So in order to check that, simply plug in the URL of your page into this mobile-friendly test tool by Google.
5. Ensure Your Web Page Speed Is Optimal
Keep in mind that the loading speed of a web page continues to be a crucial factor for ranking on Google. If your page loads too slowly, not only will it diminish your chances of ranking towards the top of results whatsoever, but it will also affect your ability to convert leads into customers and sell your products. Let’s face it – everyone’s got a short attention span. Find out whether or not your page needs speeding up by using Google PageSpeed Insights.
As a final note, yes – getting your website to become a featured snippet in Google search results is challenging. But not impossible. Position Zero does not mean at all that the probability of reaching it is close to zero. To maximize the chances of it requires patience, commitment, and great attention to detail. But rest assured, it is attainable.