Google’s Position Zero

If you want to generate more traffic to your website, you need to think of reaching “Position Zero”.

“Position Zero” in Google Search is a featured area that highlights a single web page in a way that people will click your link above anyone else’s page.

It’s as simple as this: “Position Zero” means clicks. And that’s good.

What Does Position Zero Look Like?

Medical questions are the easier to find, so search for “why does my stomach hurt” in Google and you’ll see this answer:

Example of a Google Featured Snippet

With “Position Zero” (also called Featured Snippets or Rich Answers), Google is trying to understand the user’s intent and give them what they want: an immediate answer the most reputable source.

This evolved from voice activated search where users searched with a question and expected Google to reply with a single, reputable answer.

In the past several years, Google has become increasingly committed to this strategy. In 2018, there were more than 450,000 Rich Answer references in Google Search. In 2019, that rose to 1.1 million, according to Media Post. Use of Featured Snippets rose from 300,000 references in 2018 to 400,000 in 2019.

Rich Answer Vs. Featured Snippet

Think of a “Featured Snippet” as being the whole widget and a “Rich Answer” just the text at the very top of the widget.

A Featured Snippet includes the top text box, the “People also ask” area and possible filters to change the customer’s original question. The Rich Answer is the text area at the top.

Rich Answer

Google discovers Rich Questions basically the same way that you might talk to your smart speaker. Google considers what comes after “Hey Google” is generally a question. But Google is also trained to recognized a number of other formats as well.

Rich Question Formats

We’ll go through the top seven formats. Each format will generally appear as a “Heading 2” heading.

The body of your questions will always appear as a paragraph (<p>) tag in HTML. However, remember not to plagiarize, use vulgar language or use discriminatory language. Google will not only not use your answer, but could even block your page.

Also, keep your answers to 100 words or less. Google likes brevity since the Rich Answer space is limited.

Below are three formats you can use to get pages listed in a Featured Snippet:

5W Questions Format

Starting a heading with a “who, what, when, why and how” signals to Google that you’re forming a Rich Question. Google will still look to see if you added the customer’s target keywords; however, with Google’s updated contextual search algorithm, you don’t need to have their exact keywords. Your answer only needs to fit in the context of their question.

For instance, Best Pets wrote a block about excessive dog licking. They didn’t include the actual search phrase “do puppies lick a lot”, but Google matched the question to their obvious keyword “excessive licking”.

Example of Contextual Search and Rich Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Format

For this format, create a page entitled “Frequently Asked Questions” and create a list in a question / answer format. Google’s algorithm will recognize an FAQ format as a set of questions and answers, giving it lots of options to place in search.

For example, if you search for “dog toy answers” or “FAQ on dog toys”, then you’ll probably get back a response similar to the example below:

Google FAQ Example

Instead of a single answer, Google provides back a series of answers in an FAQ format that’s similar to a traditional FAQ.

The trick is that the material needs to be unique and family safe. Google won’t highlight questions or answers that are about risque subjects or talk down about race or gender. Google also doesn’t highlight text that is identical elsewhere, so this format doesn’t work well for purchased articles.

X Versus Y Format

Comparing two products or services is another format that gain Google traction, and it’s simple to do since you’re adding the term “versus” in the heading.

Searching “Google versus Bing”, for instance, provides a LifeHacker article that compares the two search services.

As with other formats, keeping your first paragraph under 100 words and family friendly will give you a better chance of having a featured article.