Don’t you love “How-To” articles? They get straight to the heart of the matter.
And in this article, we’re going to be getting right down to how to rank at Position 0 (aka “Featured Snippets”). In my last post I explained what Position 0 is and why it is so important today to pursue and claim these coveted positions. The purpose of that article was to persuade you why you should be paying attention. Now that you’re convinced, let’s get tactical!
How DO You Rank for Position 0?
How do you rank for Position 0? You rank for Position 0 by targeting queries that are questions, by clearly and concisely answering that query, and by directly and indirectly showing Google and other search engines that you’re the most qualified to do so.
Do you see what I did just there? I literally, in the copy, repeated the question by typing it out. I then provided a clear answer immediately following the question. Let me dive a little deeper and dissect my answer:
- “Target queries that are questions”: Google programmatically chooses when to displayed Position 0 snippets in the SERPS. We have no way of controlling how or when Google chooses to do this. Most of the time, a Position 0 is featured when a question is being asked: who, what, where, when, why, how. While this is true most of the time, I’ve seen both head and long-tail queries that don’t naturally insinuate a question is being asked return a Position 0 snippet. What I would say is target questions, but also target queries that reflect the person is looking for a concise answer to either a simple or complex question.
- “Clearly and concisely answer that query”: here’s where your page-level SEO has to be on-pointe. If you’re going to win Position 0, your copy has to be very good. Good enough for Google to select your answer as the winner amongst a very competitive set of potential candidates. That means targeting a keyword and a keyword family, writing engaging, clear meta data (title tag and meta description), be thoughtful about your H1 and sub-heads (H2s, H3s), and provide and optimize relevant media. That means optimized video embeds, and images with the relevant keyword in the file name (when it actually aptly describes the image) and alt text. While there is no rule as to word count, you need to determine – based on user intent – how comprehensively you need to cover the topic after you provide the concise answer.
- “Directly and indirectly show Google and other search engines that you’re the most qualified to do so”: here’s where your domain level and off-page level SEO has to be on-pointe. Here’s where we go “beyond copywriting.” Not only must your copy be useful, but your page must load very quickly. It must be mobile friendly. On “https.” And contain high(ish) domain authority where you’ve done what you can to showcase to Google that you deserve to be on Page 1 for this given topic (read: page-level and domain-level backlinks, social shares, branded mentions, etc.). Because only results that are already on Page 1 are going to be selected.
Choose Your Own Adventure: Write New Content or Refresh Existing Content?
You have two options when you decide you want to start targeting Position 0 snippets: you can write new content oriented perfectly to the selected keyword(s), or you can refresh an existing post. I’ve had good luck with both scenarios. However, I’m a big fan of using what you already have. So if you’d like to audit your content for good “Position 0” candidates, here are some tips:
- Open up your Google Search Console “performance” report
- Filter out your brand name searches
- Look for keywords/pages that are already ranking in the first 20 spots, on Page 1 or on Page 2. Evaluate those posts, pages, or articles critically. Based on the tip above, could you seamlessly work in and optimize for your given query? If you refreshed the SEO, could you move it to one of the top spots on Page 1? Evaluate carefully, and make a list of those page URL candidates
- Before you do any hands-on work, make sure the changes you make aren’t going to bomb your content and take away what made them rank well in the first place. Your best bet is to update the content: add new copy that answers the keyword question, and do all the normal optimization techniques you would to rank.
After you take these steps, you’re off!
Pro Tip for Position 0: Use Tools to Point You in the Right Direction
To get started, I mentioned above that you need to target queries that reflect a user needs the answer to a question. How do you know what questions people are asking?
- Tool #1: Answer the Public: this free tool will give you all of the questions searched around a given topic in a visual and bulleted manner. The only downside? It doesn’t come with the search count numbers. It does however, come with a handy color code: the darker the green dot, the more popular the search query:
- Tool #2: SEMrush: this premium tool (I pay $99/month and it’s well worth it – oh and #affiliate) has a report that shows you featured snippets for keywords you’re tracking, get competitive intel, and of course get monthly search count, which at some point, when you’re serious about SEO, is critical to have to make decisions:
- Tool #3: MozBar Chrome Extension: Moz does so many things well. And one of those things is the MozBar. First, create a free Moz account, and second, install the Chrome extension. When you do a search (and you have the extension toggled on), you’ll notice the MozBar springs into action. How does it help you win Position 0? How you can “steal” the Position 0 spot? It provides you with some much-needed data that will aid you if you’re trying to out-seat the website that is currently in Position 0. It will tell you the DA (Domain Authority) and PA (Page Authority) of the website that is currently claiming that spot. If they’re well above your numbers – and remember you have to be on Page 1 anyway – then you most likely want to let that keyword go and move to a different keyword:
And that’s it! Ready to tackle your first (or second or third) Position 0 ranking? Let me know how it goes!