If you were basking at the top of Google search results for some of your keywords, you better check your rankings again. There’s a new rank in town (two, actually) that might already be appearing on top of the SERPs for many of your search queries. Google calls it Featured Snippet and SEO pundits are calling it ‘rank zero’, because it trumps the top Google position for the searches in which it appears. Here’s what rank zero looks like:
Have you seen it before? It’s becoming more and more prevalent, appearing when Google thinks the user wants to know what the search term means, or wants to find out the answer to a question. Google thinks it would be more convenient for the user to find the answer right on top of the search results, without having to click any of the results. So its spiders fetch the answer to the user’s query in real time, and display it on top of the search results, demoting all first page results by one position. But the good news is Google displays your page’s URL below the answer snippet IF it takes the info from your site.
So, where do Google’s spiders find the answers to display in the Featured Snippet? Most of the times, the answers come from the Knowledge Graph that Google has been developing for some time. If you are not familiar with the concept of the Knowledge Graph—it’s the box that appears to the right side of the results.
If no Knowledge Graph exists for a search query, Google gets the answer from one of the pages appearing on its first page for that query. It may or may not be the top-ranking page. Sometimes Google can fetch the info from the second or third result, creating an opportunity for the websites that are currently ranking 2-10. If you can anticipate industry-specific questions that your customers are likely to ask and provide concise and coherent answers, you can zoom past your competitors right to the top of the page, in the Featured Snippet. Basically, you’ll have two results on page-1, so your traffic is likely to increase. The only thing you need to do is markup your text using Schema.org.
According to MOZ, the Featured Snippets (rank zero) appear for some 11% of the 10,000 search queries they track, up from around 2% two years ago, when the featured snippet was initially launched. Mobile searches are the major reason for introducing Featured Snippets and expanding their influence to more and more queries. Reports say that nearly 60% of searches now take place on mobile, and many of them are voice searches. Most people like to ask questions when they’re talking to Siri or ‘OK Googling’. So Google decided to let them have the answers with a single tap or click.