The presence of the quick answer box within Google’s search results has increased significantly over recent years. In fact, according to Stone Temple Consulting, answer boxes now appear for as many as 30 percent of all search queries and this increased presence has caused many an SEO expert to ponder how to use this to their clients’ advantage.
In truth, due to their placement, Google’s answer boxes have the ability to draw a lot of attention and traffic away from other top 10 search results, which is why it is so important to optimize your site for them.
As with other forms of SEO, keyword research plays a key role in optimizing for quick answer boxes. In particular, marketers need to try to identify queries related to their chosen keywords which either ask a direct question, or which imply that the person wants an answer to a question.
‘How To’ queries can be especially important, with approximately 60 percent of all of them producing quick answer box results. Crucially, however, you should try to target queries that require some sort of detail, as very simple queries with a short answer can often be answered by Google, without citing any particular source.
Answering the Query
The page you are hoping will be linked to within Google’s answer box must answer the query in reasonable detail, in either a paragraph, table or list format. For your SEO efforts to pay dividends, you should target queries that are likely to be entered into Google by people within the target audience for your website and/or products.
“Pages that Google selects for quick answers on our site are high-authority pages with quality, well-structured content,” says Kirill Kronrod from Adobe, writing for the BrightEdge blog. “Select a topic that’s interesting for your users [and] create quality content relevant to the theme.”
Opportunity or Obstacle?
Depending on which SEO expert you speak to, Google’s answer boxes can either be seen as an opportunity or an obstacle. While there are obvious visibility benefits, the main issue is that the query may be answered fully from the SERPs, depriving your website of the click-through it would usually get. Yet, there is a simple way around this.
The answer box has a maximum character limit, meaning that only a certain amount of content from a web page will be displayed. Rand Fishkin from Moz.com advises that marketers use this maximum snippet length to entice clicks by creating answers which exceeds the character limit and encourage the user to read on.
Christelle Macri is the founder of Ebizpromotion, a leading seo agency in Berkshire, with a no-nonsense and ethical approach to digital marketing. She is also SEO expert with over 17 years’ experience in the internet advertising industry. Having worked for a major search engine and pioneering pay for performance advertising networks, she is an expert at turning her clients’ websites into consistent revenue streams, using a variety of digital channels. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter.
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