How To Optimize For Zero-Click Searches

How to optimize for zero-click searches


What Are Zero-Click Searches?

Do you ever wonder what the reasons are for having a low Click-Through Rate? Let me tell you that Zero-Click Searches are a big part of this. Learn how to optimize for Zero-Click Searches and how to achieve featured snippets on the SERPs. But first, we need to know what Zero-Click Searches are.

Let me begin by giving you an example of a Zero-Click Search below.

zero click search example

These snippets appear in the SERPs when you search for queries with “how-to,” “definition,” “meaning,” “time zone,” and even when you do calculations.

For example, if I search for “How to make tea?”, this is how it will appear in the SERPs.

how-to search query

Similarly, if you search for “tea meaning,” you’ll get this.


Tea meaning search query

Google launched these snippets to improve the search experience of users by delivering brief and immediate answers to their queries.

These snippets are also referred to as Zero-Click Searches because they led 49% of all Google searches result in no clicks. This implies that users are satisfied with the information of the snippet, and no longer find it necessary to visit a ranked result unless they want additional knowledge about the subject. These snippets are also called position “zero” because they rank above the rest of the SERP results.

Due to this, organic ranking results are losing traffic. For example, Wikipedia lost 21% of its traffic since the launch of position zero.

While these snippets decrease traffic to organic search results, having such a featured snippet can give your website more exposure and additional traffic as your site ranks right on top of all organic search results. There have been several websites experiencing a respectable increase in traffic and CTR while having a featured snippet on Google’s SERP.

But for this exceptional position, you must optimize your website. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss numerous ways to optimize your site and its content for Zero-Click Searches. But first, let’s understand its various types.


Types Of Zero-Click Searches

There are three types of Zero-click Searches, featured snippets, instant answers, and knowledge graph.


Featured Snippets

These are selections from results that provide the most relevant answers to each user’s query. There are five types of featured snippets, all of which come under Zero-Click Searches. Here is a brief description of each one supported by an example.

  1. Paragraph – Paragraph snippets appear when you search for queries with “how-to”, “who”, “why”, “what”, etc. That’s how they appear in the SERPs. Paragraph snippet from Zero-Click Searches
  2. Lists – Lists are further divided into two parts: numbered and bulleted. Numbered lists appear when users search for a step-by-step tutorial. We used “how to make coffee” as an example. numbered list from Zero-Click SearchesBulleted lists are usual lists that do not require to be in sequence. For example, if you search for types of coffee, you’ll get this:
    Bulleted list from Zero-Click Searches
  3. Table – Google features tables in the SERPs as well, but they are not very common.Table snippet from search query
  4. Videos – Videos get featured in the snippets as well. Either they are featured entirely, or Google provides you with a suggested clip.Video snippet from Zero-Click Searches
  5. Double-featured snippets – Sometimes, Google contents from one website and an image from another website are coupled together to provide productive results. There is no official term for these snippets, but I prefer calling them double-featured snippets.Double-featured snippet


Instant Answers

These are small tools that provide immediate answers to the user’s query. One of these queries includes performing a simple calculus.calculation for an instant answer

Another query that will give you an instant answer is checking the weather.

Weather search query
Or when you want to find out the meaning of definitions.

Definition of weather on SERP


Knowledge Graph

The knowledge graph contains additional information about your search. Mostly, they appear on the right side of the first SERP when you search for a company. Knowledge graph on Google


Or when you look up a celebrity:

Celebrity search query

Lastly, search queries about diseases are another way to see a knowledge graph.

disease search query


Do Your Target Keywords Have A Featured Snippet?

Before beginning with the optimization process, you should check whether your target keywords have a featured snippet or not. There are several ways and tools with which you can check whether you have a featured snippet, but one good way is to use the Rank Overview module by RankWatch to determine this.

Login to RankWatch (the tool has a 14-day free trial) and access the Ranking Overview Dashboard to find the keywords for which you have obtained a featured snippet. RankWatch

Under ranking overview, check “additional ranks” of your target keywords.

Additional rank feature show if you have featured snippet

These “additional ranks” represent whether your target keywords have acquired a featured snippet or not. The data collected by RankWatch include:

  • Local
  • Images
  • News
  • Ads
  • Videos
  • Knowledge
  • Answers
  • Jobs


Green icon: Signifies that your domain acquired the knowledge panel answer box for the keyword.

Blue icon: This means there are a knowledge panel and answer box for your target keyword, but your domain is not ranking for it.

Grey icon: Implies that there are no knowledge panels and answer boxes on the first SERP for the target keyword.

Other than this, check keywords for which you rank in the top 10 results but don’t have a featured snippet. RankWatch provides data related to your current rankings next to the additional ranks too.

Website ranking on SERP

Google extracts the data for the featured snippets from websites ranking on the first page of the SERP. So, if you already have a page ranking in the top result page, you can tweak it a bit to acquire a featured snippet.


How To Optimize For Zero-Click Searches

Some Zero-Click Searches are entirely controlled by Google and, therefore, difficult to optimize for, such as instant answers and knowledge graphs. However, you can optimize for featured snippets. Therefore, the following ways are targeted towards optimizing your website for featured snippets.


1. Create High-Quality Content

Creating high-quality and information-rich content is necessary to get a SERP position, and it becomes crucial if you want to acquire a featured snippet. Hence, you must create well-researched content that is relevant to the users and best answers their queries.


2. Target Question-Based Keywords

To get featured in the SERPs, webmasters must conduct thorough research for question-based keywords and optimize them in your content. Also, you will find that featured snippets appear mostly for questions like “what,” “where,” “when,” “who,” “why,” “can,” “how,” and so on.

Several keyword research tools can help you create a database of such question-based keywords. One of these tools is Twinword Ideas. Twinword Ideas provides you with numerous keyword suggestions. You need to enter the “keyword,” click on “search,” and that’s it. You will have a wide range of keyword suggestions.

You can narrow down the list by targeting keywords with “what,” “why,” “how,” etc.


To do that, you can either add a custom filter under the popular topics feature as seen below.

Twinword Ideas custom popular topics filter

Or, you can use the ‘Include / Exclude’ smart filter and include all the question-based words you like, such as “what,” “why,” “how,” etc.

Include and include keywords with the smart keyword tool Twinword Ideas.

Understand the user-intent and then start shortlisting and adding keywords to your database or keyword target list. Once the keyword target list is created, you can start writing the contents.


3. Use Relevant Images

Images break the monotony of textual information and keep the readers engaged. And if you use related images in your content, then your chances of getting featured in double-featured snippet increases. Moreover, crawlers read the images and their alt-texts as well before featuring them. Therefore, you must use relevant and high-quality images in your content and make sure to use a relevant and descriptive alt-text.


4. Content Structure Is Crucial

Providing a structure to your content helps the crawlers index and rank your domain effectively. In addition to this, it improves the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) of your website. Structuring the content includes the utilization of appropriate heading tags, title tags, etc. It also includes dividing the content into points and paragraphs while breaking the monotony of texts with visuals.

Dividing your content into pointers and steps or lists increases its chances to get featured in forms of lists and tables in the SERPs.


5. How About Including An FAQ Section?

There are numerous ranking opportunities when optimizing for question-based keywords. You can not only rank for rank zero but also the “people also ask” section. FAQ snippet This section includes other relevant queries associated with the searched one. Google lists these questions because users search for them. You add an FAQ section in your site’s content to increase the potential of your website to rank in “people also ask,” if not the featured snippet.


6. Quality Links Are Essential

You need quality links pointing to your content to boost its potential of ranking in the SERPs and the featured snippets. Link building can increase the traffic driven to your website, followed by the domain authority. And if your site has a higher Domain Authority (DA) and its content follows the optimization techniques as mentioned earlier, then it will become easier for your content to acquire a featured snippet.


Get Your Own Featured Snippet

Once you are done with the optimization, wait for a month or two before checking in RankWatch whether your target keyword acquired a featured snippet or not. Furthermore, you can increase your chances of achieving it further by keeping the word count of a definition within your content between 54 to 58 words.

For instance, if you are writing on SEO and one of its headings is “what is SEO?”, then you should define SEO within 58 words. It is seen that most featured snippets have content limited to the mentioned word count. So, it is time that you optimize your content for Zero-Click Searches and improve your SERP performance.

After reading this post, if you have any doubts or suggestions, please mention them in the comments below.


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Sahil Kakkar
Sahil is the CEO and Founder of Rankwatch - a platform, which helps companies and brands stay ahead with their SEO efforts in the ever growing internet landscape. Sahil likes making creative products that can help in automation of mundane tasks and he can spend endless nights implementing new technologies and ideas. You can connect with him and the Rankwatch team on Facebook or Twitter.

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