Getting the featured snippet, sometimes called “position zero”, on Google was the goal for content creators for years.
Position zero is the first organic search result, meaning that it’s above the first search result. It can be in the form of a featured snippet, map, knowledge graph. No matter what format it’s in, position zero is big and eye catching. Sounds great, right?
It turns out, position zero might not be as good a spot as everyone thought.
Changes to The Featured Snippet
In addition to being big and eye-catching, being in position zero used to mean that you also ranked in the top 10, typically the top 5. That means you occupied two spots on the first page of SERPs. That gave users two opportunities to click through to your website!
You’ll notice we used past tense there.
That’s because in January 2020, Google announced that they made a big change to the SERPS:
In other words, if you have the featured snippet, you can no longer rank in the organic results for that same search term. One page can no longer occupy two spots on page one. You either have the featured snippet or you appear in the “normal” rankings. This change went into effect immediately after the announcement on January 22, 2020.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean the featured snippet is a bad place to be, just that it’s not as good as it once was.
Position zero is still the most prominent spot in the SERPs:
The Problems With the Featured Snippet
We’ve already pointed out one issue with position zero, but there are some other things you should be aware of…
You Might Get Less Traffic From the Top Spot
Logic tells us that the very first search result should get the most clicks. Especially when that first result is the big, eye-catching featured snippet.
Unfortunately, that’s not what the data says. In a 2017 study by AHREFs, they found that when the SERP had a featured snippet, the snippet got 8.6% of clicks, while the result right under it got 19.6% of clicks.
That’s over double the amount of clicks for the site below the snippet! Contrary to what logic tells us, featured snippets aren’t the traffic boon that we thought they would be. Being in the position below the featured snippet actually nets more traffic.
No Click Searches
No click, or zero-click, searches aren’t a problem you’ll face if you capture the featured snippet, they’re more of a byproduct and more something you should be aware of. These are searches that result in no clicks because the information the user wanted is visible in the featured snippet, knowledge panel, map, definition, or other feature.
For example, when I searched, “where is Biltmore?” I didn’t have to click a thing to get Biltmore’s entire address.
Zero-click searches have been on the rise for the past several years and in 2019, around 50% of all searches resulted in no clicks. Some sites have even seen a decline in traffic because zero-click searches are becoming more common.
This is extremely convenient for the searcher, but not ideal for people who want or need to get traffic to their site. On the other hand, even if you don’t get traffic from it, being in the featured snippet at least gets eyes on your content.
Featured Snippets Get it Wrong Sometimes
We like to think that Google is an all-knowing entity, but at the end of the day, it’s still just a (very smart) algorithm. That means that sometimes the information in the featured snippet isn’t accurate and/or doesn’t match the searcher’s intent. So, even if you do grab the featured snippet, it may not actually help you at all.
While you can’t completely control Google’s accuracy (and, to be fair, their accuracy rate is high), it’s a little embarrassing to show up in SERPs that aren’t accurate or relevant. Sort of like showing up at a party you weren’t invited to.
Should You Aim for Position Zero?
Ok, so it turns out that there are a few issues with having the featured snippet. Should you still try to capture it?
We can’t tell you what’s right for your website or business, but we thought you should know the pros and cons of having it. Being in position zero isn’t necessarily bad, but as we mentioned, it doesn’t have as many advantages as it once did. Overall, if your website is bringing in the leads and sales you need to be successful, you don’t need to worry about being in position zero!