Every Google update is aimed at improving the algorithms to display the most accurate answers to the queries typed in. Therefore, over the years, the quality of results on the first pages of SERPs has improved significantly, and additional boxes have appeared in the search engine itself to make it easier to find the information you need. One of them is the Direct Answer box.
What is Direct Answer?
Above the top ten pages displayed in response to a query on Google, sometimes another box appears in addition to paid ads. This is the so-called zero position, where the user will find a direct answer to his question. Although this feature still works better in English than in Polish, you have certainly encountered it more than once. It most often appears when you type a query containing words such as who, where, how much, what, etc. in the search window.
There are 4 main types of Direct Answer blocks. In 70% of cases it is plain text – a snippet of up to about 300 characters, in which the keywords from the query are bolded. Often the text is displayed together with an image. 28% of the Direct Answer blocks displayed are both numbered and bulleted lists. In the zero position, the algorithm can also show an entire table or a portion of it, as well as a YouTube video. Google can also answer queries using text from the video description.
What does a Direct Answer look like?
The information that appears on the zero position can take different forms. The simplest is the Direct Answer, which consists of a short message, sometimes accompanied by a graphic. The second form is more elaborate and includes a link to the source page. It is called Featured Snippets. In Poland, however, it is commonly accepted to refer to both forms as Direct Answer – both also occupy the zero position.
How do you get to zero position?
There are no direct instructions on Google’s official website on how to achieve a position in the Direct Answer block. However, by analyzing pages that currently rank zero in the SERPs for specific queries, some general guidelines can be identified:
- the content should be written in natural language, meaning it should be simple and readable;
- the test should include queries preferably with the words: how, what, who, where, when, etc., and the answers to them;
- the optimal paragraph size is 40-60 words;
- lists should consist of 9 or more items;
- tables should have 4 or more columns;
- h2-h6 headings should be used.
In addition to this, the site must meet all the basic requirements of SEO optimization – without this, there is no way to even get into the top ten results.
Is it worth targeting the zero position?
Due to the fact that Direct Answer blocks occupy a very valuable place at the very top of the SERPs, they get more impressions and clicks. The page at the very top also creates an image of a specialist and authority in the field. On the other hand, the user gets the answer to his or her question right away, and in many cases may choose not to go to the site to explore the topic further. As a result, traffic to the site does not increase.
However, in order to even think about appearing in the zero position, the site needs to rank anywhere in the top 10. In theory, if you rank first and zero, you will get about 28% of all clicks (or almost a third of all organic traffic). While this is not an easy task, it is also not impossible.
main photo: unsplash.com/Firmbee.com