What even is “position 1” these days?

Written by Jo Seward: Digital marketing manager.
· 4 minute read

The lucrative “position 1” – what companies and digital marketers alike have sought after since Google took over the world…

If your site has been awarded the top spot, Google ultimately deems it the most valuable and relevant resource for the user’s search query. But as search engines evolve and new ‘SERP features’ are being introduced, the traditional organic listings are getting pushed further and further down the page… This begs the questions, what is classed as position 1 these days? Are the organic listings still as valuable? And how do you win some of this crucial real estate at the top of the results page without paying for an ad?

Here are some key SERP features that are increasingly affecting the significance of holding that first position, and why you should be optimising accordingly:

Local listings

Google’s local listings are extremely important for any business serving a particular geographic region. These appear above the organic results, and display all the details a potential customer might need to know including opening hours, contact details, reviews and even directions.

google local listings

If you’ve managed to bag a place in the top 3 local listings you’re in an extremely powerful position – it’s the first thing people see in the SERPs and it indicates the ‘best’ in the area.

Make sure you have a thorough, well optimised Google My Business profile to increase your chances of appearing in what is essentially “position #1” for local search terms.

Featured snippets

Also known as “position zero”, featured snippets provide instant answers to a user’s search query. These can be in the form of a short paragraph of text, a list, a table or even a video right at the top of the results page.

featured snippets google

If your site wins a snippet, Google sees your content as the most succinct, trustworthy answer and you’ve immediately helped the user without them having to do any more legwork. This leads to a boost in terms of credibility, and a higher click through rate compared to position 1 below.

To increase your chances of appearing as a featured snippet, find out exactly what questions your audience are asking and do your best to answer them concisely. Structure your content for Google, with descriptive headings / subheadings, and remember to research the snippets already being won in your industry. This will help you to determine what Google is looking for.

PAA boxes

Just below the featured snippet, and above the organic listings, you’ll often find a list of PAA boxes (or ‘people also ask’ boxes). Here we get a list of related questions that the user may also find useful:

PAA box google

These days we can easily find ourselves falling down the rabbit hole of an ‘infinite’ PPA list – another reason why answering as many questions as you can related to your niche is crucial if you want the best chance of appearing above the organic listings.

Hotel listings

When searching for a hotel, you’ll most likely see a box similar to the one below, right above the first organic listing.

google hotel listings

In a similar vein to local listings, integrating your hotel with Google is vital if you want to have a presence in the SERPs. This is a little bit more difficult to implement, but once featured, users can immediately see pictures, reviews, prices and offers without having to scroll any further.

To send your hotel prices to Google, making you eligible to show in the listings box, you need to work with one of their third-party integration partners.

As Google strives to make their search results as user friendly as possible, businesses need to be considering how valuable these new SERP features are before focussing solely on the traditional “position 1”. That’s not to say it’s no longer a strong position to hold, but with so much real estate up for grabs above the organic listings, whether it’s as coveted as it was 5 years ago is certainly up for debate…

Search marketing is evolving, and we can help your business keep up with the ever changing SERPs. Just get in touch today.