How to rank Zero on Google in 2019

Whoever thought that “zero” would overtake “one” right?

Especially in rankings.

We always aim to be the number one in what we do.

Even in Google Search rankings.

Or so we thought.

Check out the below stat:

In the first quarter of 2019 over 49% of all Google searches in the US DID NOT HAVE ANY CLICKS.

Search queries with no cliks

What does that mean exactly?

How can so many searches have no clicks?

Are people not clicking on any result that is displayed?

Organic or Paid?

Apparently so.

What this is referring to is a phenomenon called “Google Zero-click searches”.

Which is positioned at rank zero.

What is rank zero?

or

What is a zero-click search or a no-click search?

These are searches on search engines that satisfy the user intent without clicking on any search result.

Let me give an example:

Say, you are a movie buff (I am too).

Say you missed the Oscars this year (I hate missing it too) and you now want to find out the list of winners.

What do you do?

Simply speaking, you Google it.

And you search for “Oscar winners 2019”.

I’m assuming those are the terms most of us use to get that information.

Hence I used those.

So, you search for that and…

Wait a minute.

I want you to think about this for a moment.

What did you do earlier?

Once you type the search and “enter”, you would get a list of sites that contain the list of Oscar winners.

Right?

You click on a link and enter the site to see the award results.

I mean that’s how Google works isn’t it?

Well, that has changed in a way – as of now.

I typed the above Oscar query and this is the result I got.

oscar 2019 google search

If you just want to know who the winners are, you have it.

Right there, at the top of the page.

Above ALL results.

Above position one.

At a new position, we now call “Position zero”.

This is the zero-click result.

In other words,

You got your information from Google without clicking any results.

You just did a zero-click search.

Zero-click search could indeed be a game-changer.

For all of those involved.

Users

Marketers

And of course: Google.

Let me share some other examples.

I searched for the following and got the results as below.

“Temperature in New York” – you can add in any location.

temperature in new york

“how to apply egg on hair”

egg on hair

“What is a solar system”

solar system

“recipe for egg curry”

egg curry recipe

You see the results for different kinds of zero-click search queries?

Now look at the below queries.

“rupee to pound”

rupee to pound

“tom cruise age”

tom cruise age

Both the set of queries are zero-click search queries.

But the difference between these set of queries and the earlier ones is

The first set is a featured snippet.

The second set is not.

It is a Rich Answer.

What is a Rich Answer?

Also called Instant Answer, it a quick solution from Google itself to the search query.

What is the difference between the two?

In the first one, the snippet is actually taken from a site.

The site link will be displayed just after the snippet for users to click on.

egg curry recipes

But in Rich Answer, there is no site to click.

tom cruise ages

It is just an answer to a question.

But both are zero-click search queries.

Google has done so stating that there is data that is part of the public domain.

And hence there is no need to credit any site for the information.

Google has actually taken a step forward with this.

Look at the example below.

bangalore temp autocompllete

You see?

I typed in “Temperature in Bangalore”.

And I got the answer in the Google Autocomplete feature itself!

That means you don’t even have to hit “enter” anymore.

Rankbrain, Google’s algorithm is expanding rapidly.

So, why is Google doing this?

Google is continuously working on enhanced search results with users’ best interests at heart.

Which is also keeping users using it repeatedly.

Think like a user now.

If you want any info through Google, you would definitely want it as fast as possible with as little work as possible.

Right?

If you get the result directly after you type your query even before clicking on to any search results, wouldn’t you accept it?

Especially if it satisfies your search intent?

I would too.

So should we, as marketers, be worried?

As of now: no.

Even with Rank Zero, organic results still do get clicks.

But now that you know there is a rank zero, wouldn’t you want to be there?

Above all?

So the golden question is

How to rank for Position zero?

If you want to be part of zero-click search queries,

The simplest way, right now, is through

Featured Snippet

That being said, here’s the thing:

Google will display a position zero result from (most likely) the top 10 ranking pages.

So, for position zero, you need to be on position one to ten already.

And how do you get to the top ten?

By working on SEO best practices.

So, the good news is

Position zero depends on position one to ten.

The first objective is to be on page one.

Then you need to focus on which page you want to have the snippets.

This is how:

1. Select the keywords you already rank for in the top ten.

You can get this info with tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs.

(Yes, getting to position zero is extremely difficult).

You also should check your competitors featured snippets.

These tools will provide you those details as well.

Once you know that, it should give you an idea about how to optimize your snippets.

2. Think like a user

Now put yourself in a users shoes.

You are your customer.

What terms will you search for?

What queries will you type in?

If your customers are novices, then their queries would differ from the experienced ones.

Example:

An SEO beginner would search for

“What is SEO”

“What are the types of SEO”

“How to learn SEO”

An experienced user would search something like

“is JSON-LD schema better than RDFA”

“how to use metas for a single page website”

3. Choose your snippet

Once you get the keywords, you then need to check what kind of snippet you want to rank for.

And create them using these keywords.

What does this mean?

Featured snippets, in simple terms, are nothing but a short summary as an answer to user’s query.

So your page SHOULD answer a query in a simple concise way.

Like below:

If you want to rank for answer snippets to questions like

What, How, Who, When and Where.

Else it won’t appear as a snippet.

Only queries which are specific and can be answered factually without any room for confusion is usually displayed as a snippet.

Take the below query.

analytics

There is no snippet as there is no proper definition of it.

You can see different definitions on the right side and on the SERP.

You need to add these snippets as your page content at the top of the page.

And it should answer a specific question.

Say, your page is about Machine Learning introduction.

And you want to focus on “what”.

At the top of the page or above the fold,

You need to add a question like,

“What is machine learning?”

And display the answer right below it.

You can also add “why” or “how” or others with the same logic.

Now, the answer should be relevant, concise and not more than 55 to 50 characters in length.

Your page should also have the content in-depth.

Think of snippet as a teaser of your page.

You want to display it as precise as possible.

Remember, the goal of a snippet is to feature above the organic search result.

Which is very limited space.

You can use tools like Answer the Public and SEMRush to get various questions.

You can also search on Google and check for “People also ask” box in the result.

machine learning

You need to decide on

1. Which type of questions to add?

2. How many questions to add on a page?

3. Should the answer be in the form of a short para or bullet points?

But be careful here, as these are top-ranking pages.

You do not want to harm the rankings.

And as such, you need to modify the content with snippets without changing the quality of it.

There are different types of featured snippets.

What you need to to consider when creating content that could be a snippet is the user’s intent is behind the query.

The other types of snippets are

Listing (Numbered or bullets)

egg curries recipes

Table

bank tables

“Best

best

Definitions

solar systems

Pictures

five elements

Youtube (for vidoes)

videos

You can choose any snippet you want based on your objective.

Google is trying to retain users on its platform.

Check the example below for a definition.

Look at the size of the snippet.

definition long snippet

It consumes about half the page!

Along with the definition, it also provides the origin, translation, and usage over time.

Even though this is from the Oxford site, you have all the information you need right here.

You can use the search box in the snippet for a different search.

Without exiting Google.

Or entering Oxford.

Note:

It is up to Google to feature a snippet on the search result.

What you need to do is optimize your page for it.

Adding a snippet is always a good way or organizing your page.

Even on your Youtube channel, add a short precise description on every video.

You’ve seen Google provide videos as snippets – as I showed above – right?

Even if you are not in the top pages, there IS a chance that Google might display a snippet from your page.

4.Format the page content properly

Now that you have identified the keywords and snippets, you need to structure it in a way that is easy to read.

For users and Google.

Snippets should be concise – not more than 55 words.

Rest of the page should be as per best SEO practices.

Add proper headers (H1, H2 etc)

And optimized images and videos. And so on.

Authority of snippet-added sites

Let us take an example below:

This is the previous search I did for egg curry recipe.

The first link and snippet is from Indianhealthyrecipes.com (Pos #0).

egg curries recipes

And the fourth organic no-snippet link from another site is recipes.timesofindia.com (Pos #4)

toi recipe

The Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA)of Pos#0 are

swathi recipe pos 0

And that of Pos #4 are

times of india recipe pos 4

You see that Page 4 has better PA and DA.

So why is it not on position zero?

Well, one can only guess how actually Google decides but,

If you click and visit the position zero page, you will notice that most of the page is structured like a snippet.

Indianrecipe snippet

With images, videos and bullets added.

Which is missing on the other page.

Since both pages have high authority to be on page one, Google has given the Pos #0 page an advantage as it has heavily added snippets.

As Google thinks it is better suited for the query entered.

(Please don’t quote me on this, I’m only speculating looking at them).

Now, as I mentioned earlier, it is up to you to structure your pages.

You can add snippets along with proper content and still be in position zero.

Here is another fact.

Data has shown that adding a snippet actually reduces the clicks to that site (Source: Ahrefs)

It is not a shocker as the intention of a snippet is to provide an instant answer right on the spot.

So why add snippets then?

Call it evolution or technical advancement.

But there is no proper answer to this question.

You can only hope that the user clicks on a link post reading the snippet.

That expectation is justified as you already are on the top spot.

And giving them “snippets” of your page.

Which answers their query – and hence would like to know more.

And,

Click!

How to use snippets efficiently?

Google is constantly improving its platform’s user experience.

By answering specific questions.

One way to add a snippet and make users click (at least make them curious) is

To add bullet points that are relevant but more in number so that only a part of it is shown in the snippet.

This usually works with bullet points.

Like below:

eggs curries recipes

Here the complete recipe is not shown, which will make you want to know more.

This is perhaps the best way of using a snippet.

And increase site clicks.

Note:

Only 12.29 percent of search queries have featured snippets in their search results (Source: Ahrefs).

Impact of Snippets on Analytics

You will see a considerable gap between the number of search volume and search visits.

Due to snippets.

If your CTR drops, you should check if a snippet is a reason for it.

And decide accordingly.


Conclusion

Zero-click searches are on the rise.

As I mentioned before, this could a game-changer.

An important first step in the next stage of Search.

Should you avoid snippets?

A safe way would be to test it on different pages.

As you are aware, the SERP is not what it used to be.

Along with organic results, it has

Paid results,

“People also ask” box

Images

Videos

Maps

And now Snippets

It is indeed getting crowded here with each passing day.

Featured snippets, Rich Answers don’t appear for many queries – as of now.

But looks like they are gaining prominence.

You need to go with the flow!

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