Search engine optimisation (SEO) has been the bedrock of digital marketing strategies for years. Today, marketers continue to develop new SEO solutions to improve their web ranking in search results. The race to become the top-ranked search result – also known as position one – is as competitive as ever. Still, an even more valuable prize has emerged.
But what is this new ranking, and why do companies value it even more than the top-ranked spot?
Also known as a featured snippet, position zero is the most visible spot on search engine results pages (SERPs). It appears above the number one ranked website on the page, hence position zero.
These snippets are information Google uses to answer the search query directly. The algorithm isn’t just ranking results based on a website’s keyword relevance or content optimisation but on how well an isolated piece of information answers the query.
There are currently three types of featured snippets that can appear in position zero. The query will often define the kind of snippet used to answer it.
These are the most common type of snippets featured on search engine results pages. Paragraphs account for 50% of all featured snippets. They’re most effective for answering direct queries and offering definitions for searched terms.
Lists are the second most popular snippet type, making up 37% of the results in position zero. They’re most useful for instructional and list-based content, making them popular for DIY, recipe, and ranking queries.
Table snippets present information in a tabled format, which is most effective for answering queries through published databases or reports structured similarly.
The most apparent benefit to earning a featured snippet is the positioning. Snippets always appear as the first result on SERPs, above the top-ranked website. Not only does position zero offer the most visibility on search results, but a snippet answers the query on the search page itself.
While this seems counterintuitive for generating traffic, ‘Search Engine Land’ saw a 2-8% boost in click-through rates (CTR) when featured. Research shows position one websites still have the highest click-through rate at 23.3%, but position zero is a close second at 20.5%.
Featured snippets also lend credibility to websites. Google frames position zero as the most relevant, concise, and informative answer to a search query. That makes them especially valuable to websites still climbing the organic rankings while increasing keyword relevance.
Google uses artificial intelligence (AI) to sift through large data stacks and find the most appropriate information to feature. Sentence compression algorithms analyse vast pages of data in the time it takes to return regular search results.
Using machine learning techniques to refine the process, Google’s AI has developed more sophisticated methods to find the best results for position zero. Featured snippets will only grow in value as the AI expands into different markets and learns new terms.
The future growth of position zero makes it all the more valuable to invest in optimised content and metadata now. Position zero doesn’t just offer short-term boosts – it could reshape how we approach organic rankings as markets develop.