It used to be common that you had to work your way through several pages of search results to find the answers you needed. These days, Google spoon feeds you anything you want to know. Sometimes, you don’t even have to click a single link to get the information you need, thanks to answer boxes.
Google Answer Boxes are elements that show you concise answers at the top of the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). They don’t show up for every search, but when they do, they can save you a lot of time. If you can get your content to show up in those boxes, it can be a huge boost for your blog.
In this article, we’re going to talk about the different types of Google Answer Boxes you can find and how they can improve your SEO. Then we’ll go over some tips to maximize the chances of your content showing up in answer boxes. Let’s get to work!
What Are Google Answer Boxes?
As in most cases, Google can answer the question better than any human possibly can:
A Google Answer Box, or featured snippet, offers a brief glimpse into one of the results you’re going to find on the page. Usually, answer boxes show one of the first results – whichever one Google believes answers your question most succinctly.
When it comes to search engine results, position is everything. Unless I’m doing some in-depth research, I’m almost always going to opt for the first result(s) and most people behave precisely the same way.
Studies show that featured snippets get 8% of all clicks for any given search. That’s on top of the clicks you already get if you’re within the first search results for any query. In other words, it’s a serious boost and it gives you a lot of credibility.
Google Answer Boxes come in many flavors. Some are extensions of your meta description, as in the example we saw before. Others come in the shape of lists:
As you might imagine, not all types of content or searches are suited towards a Google Answer Box. However, if you can identify content that can make it inside one of those, you can bring some serious attention to your website.
How to Optimize Your Content for Google’s Answer Box (3 Tips)
As usual, there’s no magic recipe to getting your pages to show up at the top of the SERPs. What you can do is follow some best practices to maximize your chances of getting that coveted Google Answer Box.
1. Identify Answer-Box Friendly Keywords
In most cases, Google reserves featured snippets for searches that have clear-cut answers. However, not every question will have an answer box. For example, if we run a search for “what is WordPress” we get a list of related questions:
On the other hand, if you look for “how WordPress works” you get a classic Google Answer Box:
As a rule of thumb, questions that involve ‘how’ and ‘why’ are fantastic candidates for Google Answer Boxes. My advice is, look through your top content and identify posts that your visitors might find asking those types of questions.
Make a shortlist of those posts and see what comes up when you use Google to ask questions related to those topics. Your goal is to get some of those posts to show up as featured snippets, to get a higher share of clicks.
In the next steps, we’ll go over some tips to maximize your chances of getting into answer boxes, so keep them in mind for when you publish new content as well.
2. Structure Your Content for Google Answer Boxes
Answer boxes are called so because they answer questions succinctly. If it takes you five paragraphs to answer a simple question, Google’s not going to know how to interpret that and you’ll never a featured snippet.
There are four things you need to keep in mind when it comes to structuring your content for answer boxes:
- Answer the query you’re targeting early on in the article.
- Include the question (or related keywords) as part of your meta description, title, and/or subheadings if possible.
- If applicable, use lists and tables that include the data users might be looking for.
Basically, you want to make it as easy as possible for Google to understand “Hey, this is the answer to that question people are asking!” Since we’re talking about algorithms, they depend on your content structure and SEO to get there.
3. Add Structured Markup to Your Blog Posts
We’ve talked about rich snippets and structured markup in the past. In a nutshell, structured markup is code you add to your pages to give search engines a better idea of what type of content they’re dealing with.
Structured markup is also a fantastic way to make your search result snippets stand out. Take recipes, for example – with a little markup, you can include mouth-watering pictures that users can’t help but click on:
Beyond that, structured markup can also increase your chances of showing up in a Google Answer Box. Some types of content, such as recipes, have unique featured snippets:
That’s not as good as showing up as the sole featured page, but a boost is a boost. If you’re writing any type of content you can add structured markup to, I recommend you take the time to do so. It’s a tiny bit of extra work, but it can pay off big time.
Most people don’t look beyond the first results for anything they Google. If you’re not on the first page, you might as well not exist. The only thing better than a first-position raking is for your website to appear above everything else.
That’s where Google Answer Boxes come in. If you want your website to show up in an answer box, follow these three tips:
- Identify answer-box friendly keywords.
- Structure your content for Google Answer Boxes.
- Add structured markup to your blog posts.
Do you have any questions about Google Answer Boxes? Let’s go over them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.