Search engine optimization (SEO) is a must if you want to drive organic traffic from Google. Achieving the first organic search results in Google SERPs is the dream of every business and marketer. It is estimated that the first position in Google has a whopping 32 percent CTR and the first three positions in Google have a combined CTR of 75 percent:
But this has changed ever since Google introduced featured snippets back in 2013. It has evolved ever since, and today it has transformed into a full-fledged zero position that appears above the first position in SERPs.
The question is: How does zero position impact your SEO strategy and what should you be doing about it?
This article explores everything about Google’s zero position and its impact on your brand’s SEO strategy. Let’s get started…
What Is Position Zero?
Position zero refers to a search result that appears above the traditional first position. Technically, zero position comes after paid ads and before the first organic result. Here is an example:
This is a featured snippet that answers user queries within the Google SERPs. If the searcher is interested in finding out more, they can click More Items or the title to visit the webpage. Google’s aim is to answer the users’ search queries right in the SERP without them having to click any search results. It is a way to improve UX.
And this is why it is known as position zero — because it isn't aimed at driving traffic off Google; rather, it is aimed at retaining visitors. The traditional search results that are aimed at sending traffic to your website begin after the featured snippets.
There was a time when the first spot in Google search results was considered to be the sweet spot. It still is, but now position zero may keep users from clicking a search result (i.e., yours).
How Google Position Zero Impacts SEO
The zero-click searches represent any search that didn’t lead to a click on any paid or organic search result. This is the biggest consequence of position zero that has evolved and improved significantly by Google in recent years.
This is a big concern for marketers and brands. This impacts organic CTR and traffic that you get from Google. A lot of your ideal customers might find the answer to their search queries from Google’s featured snippets and might never click and visit your website.
This impacts your SEO strategy in several ways:
Low organic CTR, especially if your content makes it to the featured snippets.
A decrease in organic CTR has a negative impact on your search ranking, according to a study. Organic CTR and search rankings have a strong correlation, so you'll lose ranking due to a decrease in CTR. Ultimately, position zero will impact your ranking in some way.
Theoretically, you only reach 35 percent of your target audience via Google (as 65 percent never clicks a search result). This means low traffic from Google leading to a low conversion rate, sales, and revenue.
However, the biggest issue around position zero isn’t SEO-related — it is brand-related.
Google position zero negatively impacts your brand.
Searchers read your content to solve their problems but never get to know you or your brand. Rather, they praise Google for understanding their query and providing an instant answer. In other words, you lose potential loyal customers because a zero-click search means the content from the featured snippets addressed user queries precisely.
As Rand Fishkin said, Google is no longer everyone’s search engine; they’re now everyone’s competitor.
Google wants to retain searchers by showing them "your" content. They want to provide a great user experience and for the right reasons.
The question is: What SEO tactics can you employ to deal effectively with Google’s position zero?
There are several techniques and tactics that you can use to drive steal traffic from Google. The top two include:
Write detailed and actionable content.
Target the right keywords.
1. Write Detailed Content
First things first, you still have to aim for position zero. Don’t consider it your enemy per se. After all, it is still your content with your website and a clickable URL.
However, you have to be smart here.
Even if Google puts your content at position zero, it must be written in a way that readers must visit your website to read more. Here is an example:
Google has summarized the headings in the featured snippets, but it doesn’t tell users how to do it. If you want to do content marketing, you'll definitely click to know the details of each step.
This is the type of detailed content you have to create. You need to do two things here:
Write detailed content with actionable insights.
Focus on branding.
You can’t promote your brand in all content types, but you must try to. This is the best way to boost brand awareness, even if you don’t get clicks from position zero.
Here is an example of how to use branding:
See how smartly Moz has referred to its key product in the content (Link Explorer). Even if you don’t click and visit Moz, you know three key things about Moz:
Inbound Links tab
So, when you are writing in-depth content, don’t forget to focus on your brand.
2. Right Keywords
Google doesn’t show position zero for all types of search queries. There are certain keyword categories that always have a position zero, such as:
Tables and comparisons
Then there is a paragraph snippet where Google picks an excerpt from anywhere within the content and shows it as featured snippets to answer the query. Here is an example:
However, this only happens when the query is specific and clear. Complex search queries don’t usually end up having a position zero. Here is an example:
And as such, any search query that isn’t specific doesn’t have a position zero. Here is an example:
It isn't clear if the intent of the user is to create a new script, get a new script, or something else. And this is where Google doesn’t show featured snippets due to ambiguity.
You need to decide if you are interested in targeting zero position or not.
If you are, use appropriate keywords with in-depth content that is very detailed so people click your search result.
If not, target keywords that don’t have a zero position yet. This is where you'll target short-tail keywords as they aren’t specific. But it is risky because you can’t optimize your content for user intent with broad keywords.
In any case, you need to target the right keywords based on what you want to achieve.
Google Position Zero Is Your Friend — Not Your Enemy
You can dislike Google position zero or hate it as much as you want, but the reality is: It is here. And it's not going anywhere.
You can’t blame Google for introducing a new position. It is their search engine and they have the right to optimize SERPs to serve their users better. Your job is to look for opportunities in featured snippets. See how you can optimize and use this position for your benefit.
After all, Google isn’t the content creator — you are. The ball is still in your court. Take charge and write content that people can’t resist clicking.
And if you need some help in the meantime, contact us at First Page today to find out how we can boost your content and SEO strategies to make your brand number one (or...number zero).