The position zero designates the first result that appears before organic results on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
Here are the most important forms of positions zero and how to achieve them.
The position zero in a nutshell!
Direct answers or Answer box
Direct answers from Google to a question asked (different from the featured snippet which we will see below, and which is an extract from a content link):
Can we appear there? Not really, Google is primarily interested in answering the question all at once, not presenting a page’s content.
As with “weather.com” which displays the weather forecast when you type “weather + a city”.
Can we appear there? If we’ve got a partnership to suggest to Google, why not. 😊
It’s when Google incorporates information into its results that comes from other databases it manages, such as Google Images, or Google News. It can appear at the top or in the middle of the SERP.
Can we appear there? It’s possible if we are part of Google databases’ results (Image, News, Videos, etc.), but it’s Google that chooses, and there is no real optimization for that.
Point Of Interest
Linked to Google Maps, Google Flight and Google Hotel Finder data, these are ideas/suggestions for destinations to visit when the query contains travel-related search intent. The “hiking in the US” request displays several destinations in position zero.
Can we appear there? Google is developing partnerships with online travel agencies and online airlines for its Google Destinations database.
People Also Ask or Other questions asked
Questions proposed by Google to refine a search and satisfy the curiosity of the Internet user, often in correlation with Featured snippets. Example for the query "use argan oil":
Can we appear there? The recommendations for seeing our page appear on PAAs are going to be the same as for targeting the Featured Snippet, which we'll see right after.
You should also know that PAAs appear above all on medium and long queries, and very little on short general queries, and also on “how?” search intentions rather than “who?” or “where?”, because the “how?” search intention is more about exploring a topic.
What is Position Zero and what is it for?
The zero position is the result that is displayed before the first organic result on Google. It’s represented by a block of elements extracted from a web page, so that the user can directly find the answer to his/her question. Thus, all the information located above the organic blue links correspond to the position zero.
Why is the zero position so important?
Although Google is still referred to as a search engine, it’s actually much closer to a response engine! Indeed, its goal is to find for the user the most suitable and relevant answer to what he/she has been looking for.
The zero position is an opportunity to gain visibility, it takes up more room than the organic results, and is higher than them on the SERP. Position 0 is put forward by Google. Moreover, it does not take the organic position’s spot. In other words, a page can be in 7th position, and that page can also occupy the position zero at the same time!
The position 0 usually appears on long tail queries. This point is important because voice searches are used more and more often, and are very often formulated in the form of questions which are long tail queries. So, working on the long tail helps you develop voice SEO, so that you are one step ahead of future Internet users' requests.
Position 0’s single downside is that, since it’s supposed to provide the answer directly to the user, the latter will not necessarily click on the page in position zero afterwards.
How to reach the position 0 in SEO?
To have a chance to come out in position zero, certain criteria must be taken into account.
Here is a non-exhaustive list:
- A long tail query (questions are more likely to appear in position 0).
- Rank on the 1st page on organic results (99% of the time, according to a study carried out by Ahref).
- The page you want to position must have quality content, and the answer to the question asked must be short (40 to 50 words), and, if possible, in the page’s first few lines.
Featured Snippets (and by extension People Also Ask) are the only positions zero we can aim to achieve. Let's see in detail how!
- Text extracted to answer the user's question
- Link to the page, and URL
- Sometimes an image: either taken from the same page or from another one
- Often when you ask a question with a low search volume. The more the query is requested, the less it will be seen: probably because the question format lends itself well, and the questions have low search volumes.
- It preconfigures voice search (one question = one answer).
- Several existing formats: a paragraph, a list (for tutorials, recipes, etc.), a table, etc.
- It’s often taken from the meta-description tag: so, remember to answer the question in the description, when possible.
- Size: 250 to 350 characters.
- It contains the request (example "contactless payment" above).
- Most often (99% of cases), the featured snippet is a first page result. In this case, the page has a double display: in position zero, and in “regular” organic position.
- The featured snippet page often occupies the 1st position on the SERP (⅓ of cases).
- No 😊. Size and popularity don't seem to matter.
Here is the complete checklist!
- Evaluate and define questions asked by websites visitors.
- Answer them in an intelligent and relevant way.
- 1 page = 1 question = 1 answer (not a FAQ with several questions).
- Isolate a paragraph that perfectly answers the question in a precise and concise manner. If possible, put this paragraph as a meta description tag.
- Of course, do the classic on-page optimizations: tags, content and semantics, links, etc.
- Put a title (“h2”, or “h1” if it’s the page’s main request) as a question, at least above the paragraph or the table section.
- If it’s a table, use the HTML "table" tag
- If it’s a listing/tutorial, use "UL LI" tags for bullet points.
Don’t hesitate to put important keywords in strong.
Now you know everything about Featured Snippets! Don't hesitate to incorporate these recommendations every time you write a new page.
PS: this article is not exhaustive, and there are of course other positions zero, such as Google “easter eggs” or Google AdWords, etc., which aren’t part of SEO.