Increase Your CTR With Rank Zero

Alex Barrowclough
By Alex BarrowcloughSEO Manager
5 minutes to read

Rank zero is a relatively new term in the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) world. It is the organic result that appears above the #1 organic listing in the search engine result pages (SERP’s).

Also known as a featured snippet this is something that could increase your website's overall visibility, click through rate (CTR) and organic traffic.

The Rank zero position or featured snippet contains a piece of text that best answers the users' search query, which has been extracted from one of the websites on the first page of the search results. The answer appears in a box which contains the snippet of text, followed by a link to the source URL. Below is an example of rank zero appearing in the SERP’s.

The SERP’s have changed a lot in the last year. There have been a number of new features added such as Rich cards and AMP pages. The biggest change of all being the removal of paid search ads from the right-hand side, now with 4 ads at the top and 3 at the bottom.

This change to the paid search layout has had a negative effect on organic results as consequently they have been pushed further down the page. This means the top positions are now more valuable than they have ever been, as often only the first organic result appears above the fold of the results page. With all these changes the addition of rank zero is just another feature that is pushing the top organic positions down the page.

An extra chance to rank on the first page

Rank zero gives you an extra opportunity to rank on the first page. Google doesn’t just select the answer from the top organic result it uses its machine learning to find the best result. This means that you could rank 5th organically for a search query but you still see your URL and page content used by Google in the rank zero position.

For example, we found one of our clients Pitman Training rank in this position for the term ‘secretarial courses’ but do not rank in the first organic position.

Increased CTR

As you can see from the example above Google highlight the answer to a query in the text box to make the result stand out which in turn increases the trustworthiness of the listing and the CTR. There have been lots of various studies into how CTR has been affected. HubSpot reported that high volume keywords in rank zero produced 114% CTR boost despite already holding a first position organic ranking.

How to take advantage of Rank Zero

Google will only take the content from a result  listing on the first page, therefore you have to appear here to be in with a chance and Rank Zero usually only occurs for longer tail/informational terms. Your content needs to be targeted towards answering these queries as succinctly and efficiently as possible and it is important to understand the types of content which Google are ranking for your topic area. For example, if you were looking to target ‘how to make bread’ you would expect to find a step by step guide.

When determining which site should rank in this position, Google doesn’t simply select the first line of information from your page or your Meta description, it reads all of the content on your page and extracts the most accurate information as its answer. In our previous example, the information displayed for ‘secretarial courses’ was extracted from the bottom of the page. Another example is for the query ‘how to lose weight’. The text extracted ignored the introductory paragraph and included a numbered guide.  

Do they have an impact on organic visibility?

SEO visibility is an algorithmic score used by Searchmetrics based to calculate how visible a site is within the search engines and is based on the number of keyphrases the domain is showing for, the search volumes attached to those keyphrases and the ranking positions held by those keywords. We would love to be able to see any Rank Zero listings reflected in this score but currently, it is not recognised by Searchmetrics. We have reached out to them and requested this feature in future upgrades to the tool.

If you’re interested in reading more about Rank Zero, see Search Engine Lands recent post here. We’ll keep you updated with any developments on this as and when it happens.

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Articles by Alex Barrowclough

Hey I'm Alex! I am an SEO Manager at Enjoy Digital. Love to talk about the ever changing digital industry, focusing on organic and paid search.