Best Practice

Position 0 - The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly

What is Position 0 on a SERP page, and how can it be ugly?

Position 0, also known as the “featured snippet”, is the topmost section of the search engine result page, usually located just below the last paid result on mobile devices. The responses in this section are technically organic, but are more often than not website listings. Instead, they offer pre-formatted types of responses, such as Google's Knowledge Graph, Bing's Direct Answers, and Google Utilities, among others.

The main goal of Position 0 is for search engine companies like Google and Bing to provide direct answers to user queries without requiring them to click through to a website.

Position 0 Defined & Examples

Many Position 0 snippets include links to the website that the search engine obtained the answer from. For example - let’s look at search results for “types of yoga”.

As you can see, the upper portion of the SERP is primarily occupied by snippets. The initial snippet, also referred to as position zero, presents the user with a direct response to their query. In addition, nine other snippets are provided to the user under the "People also ask" section. Each of these snippets can be expanded to provide the user with the answer they are seeking.

Let's Look at another example, search for “actors in pulp fiction” 

In this example, the top result is generated by Google's Knowledge Graph. A column is also displayed on the right-hand side of the page, providing information on where to watch the movie and additional details.   

It's worth noting that in this specific example, no website links are provided in the top results, as the information is displayed directly on the search engine results page. This means that users can easily access the information they need without needing to click through to a website, which can be a convenient feature for searchers.

Position 0 - THE GOOD 

Position 0, also known as the featured snippet, offers several benefits to both users and businesses. For users, Position 0 provides quick and easy access to relevant information without having to click through to a website. This feature can be especially useful for mobile users who are on-the-go and want to quickly find the answer they need. Moreover, Position 0 is also helpful for users who are visually impaired and use screen readers to access information.

For businesses, having a website link in Position 0 can significantly increase visibility and brand recognition. By providing a concise and accurate answer to a user’s search query, businesses can establish themselves as a reliable and trustworthy source of information in their industry. This can drive traffic to their website, increase brand awareness, and help them stand out from competitors in search results.

With the rising popularity of voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple's Siri, Position 0 can also help businesses optimize for voice search. Instead of typing in e other hand, obtaining Position 0 or being included in rich snippets may decrease website clicks and traffic. Additionally, as chatbots become more prevalent, it remains to be seen how they will affect the search landscape in terms of user experience and trustworthiness. 

Ultimately, like in the classic Western movie "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," the impact of these trends on businesses and users will depend on various factors and outcomes. As a result, businesses should focus their SEO efforts on optimizing for Position 0 and rich snippets to enhance their visibility and reputation in search results.

Position 0 is particularly useful for voice search because it provides a clear and concise answer to a specific question. When a user asks a question, the voice assistant will often read out the answer from Position 0. Therefore, businesses that can provide the most relevant and accurate information in a concise manner have a better chance of being featured.

Moreover, Position 0 can also help businesses with local search optimization. For instance, when a user searches for “best pizza in New York City,” a Position 0 result may show a list of top-rated pizza places along with their ratings, reviews, addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation, reservation links, and directions. This can be especially beneficial for businesses that rely on local traffic.

Position 0 - THE BAD 

As with any aspect of search engine optimization, Position 0 has potential drawbacks to consider.

One of the most significant drawbacks of Position 0 is that it may result in fewer clicks to the actual website. When search engines provide direct answers to user queries without referencing a website, this can lead to a decrease in clicks per search. Even when a website is referenced in Position 0, users may feel less inclined to click through to the website to explore other content or learn more about the topic, resulting in a lower click-through rate and potentially lower traffic to the website.

Another potential disadvantage is that Position 0 can be unpredictable. Search engines use algorithms to determine which content appears in Position 0 based on various factors, such as relevance, accuracy, and user intent. This means that a website may not always be able to predict or control whether their content appears in Position 0. This unpredictability can be challenging for businesses that rely heavily on search engine traffic for their website.

In addition, if the information provided in Position 0 is inaccurate or outdated, it can harm the reputation of the business or organization that provided the answer. This is particularly problematic if the answer is related to sensitive or complex topics, such as medical advice or legal information. It is essential for businesses to ensure the accuracy and relevancy of their content to avoid potential damage to their reputation.

Position 0 - THE (potentially) UGLY

Consider the current landscape of chatbots, including ChatGPT, open source models, Google's Bard, IBM's Watson, and numerous startups. These chatbots are rapidly improving by a factor of 10 over time. Since its introduction in November 2022, ChatGPT has seen incredible adoption. It's possible to envision search engines that exclusively provide direct answers to users without referencing external websites, given this adoption.

However, search engines rely on the content provided by websites to generate their answers, making this approach problematic. Additionally, advertising revenue is a significant factor in the search engine market, making it difficult to abandon the traditional model of presenting search results that link to external websites  


While Position 0 and chatbots integrated with search can offer many benefits, such as providing instant answers and aiding users with disabilities and the elderly, there are also potential drawbacks to consider. 

On one hand, businesses can be incentivized to create content that directly answers user questions, resulting in higher impressions and a better understanding of search intent.

Looking to hire some SEO professionals? Check out our blog How to Hire an SEO Agency or Freelancer.

Preston Derrick