Did you know that the average Google search session is just under a minute? People find what they need fast, so if you want to capture these leads, you need to be at the top of your game — and search results. Features like the Google answer box provide answers fast, so it’s paramount that you try to rank for this position as a part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
What is the Google answer box, though? Why does it matter? How can you optimize for it?
We’ll answer those questions in this blog post. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of the Google answer box and get seven tips for optimizing for this desired position. If you want to optimize your blogs or site content for the Google answer box, check out our featured snippet creation & optimization services and our other SEO services.
What is the Google answer box?
The Google answer box is a box that appears at the top of organic search results. Also known as the featured snippet or “Position 0,” the answer box provides a brief answer to a user’s query, using content from the site occupying the box. Google answer boxes can include text, images, videos, lists, and tables.
It’s the position all businesses strive to reach because searchers will see their company first.
Why does Google have Google answer boxes?
Google developed Google answer boxes to deliver an accurate answer fast, without someone having a click around to find the information. Google direct answers coordinate with Google’s transition from a search engine to an answer engine.
Why does the Google answer box matter to my business?
When you look at Google direct answers, you probably wonder why this box matters to your business. Here are three reasons you should care about the Google answer box:
1. You appear first in the organic results
One of the most important reasons to optimize for the Google answer box is that you show up first in the organic search results. When a user searches, they see the Google answer box (if there is one) before the rest of the organic listings. You should take this into consideration because featured snippets take 8% of clicks away from the organic result below it.
Because this result appears at the top, more people will click on it. The Google answer box matters to your business because you appear first, making people more likely to click on your website.
2. You increase brand exposure
When you show up in the Google answer box, you increase brand exposure for your business. More people will see your brand because you appear at the top of the search results. Even if they conduct a search and read the featured snippet answer before leaving, they’ll still get exposure to your brand.
They’ll see the information source and know it came from your company. Ninety-five percent of search traffic goes to the first page of results too. So, if you rank at the top of those results, you have a better chance of people seeing your business and clicking on your page’s link, which increases their exposure to your brand.
3. You can “skip the line” ahead of fierce competition
When you appear in the featured snippet, you skip the line ahead of your competition If you write concise content that answers the search query question quickly, you have a better chance of appearing in the featured snippet. So, if your information is concise and better, you can win the featured snippet over your competition. This process allows you to skip ahead of competitors, especially if your site may not have ranked as high in the search results.
Take Credit Karma, for example. When you search “how to find the best credit card for me,” their organic listing appears in the featured snippet. But if the featured snippet didn’t exist, the page would actually rank third in the search results.
As you can see, the featured snippet allows you to bypass your competitors so that searchers see you first.
The Google answer box strategy: How to optimize for Position 0
Are you ready to start creating a Google answer box strategy that helps you rank for the featured snippet? While you can’t guarantee that these optimizations will secure the top-ranking position, you can use them to increase your chances of appearing in Position 0. Let’s look at seven ways to optimize for the Google answer box.
1. Provide concise answers
If you want to optimize for the Google answer box, provide brief answers to user questions. For example, let’s say you wrote a piece of content about how to determine a good credit score. You want to rank for the featured snippet.
You start your content with a section titled “What is a good credit score?” Which example do you think is more likely to rank as a featured snippet?
Example A: “A good credit score varies depending on different scales. Some scales will say that a score like 600 is fair, while others will classify it as a bad score. The ranges will vary, but if you have a credit app, like Credit Karma, you can see if a score like that is considered bad or fair.
So, if you have a credit score from 300-629, it’s not very good. Again, you’ll have to check the scale you’re using, but…”
Example B: “If you’re working on a credit score scale of 300-850, having a score of 700 or above is considered a good credit score. If you’re at 800 or above, you have an excellent credit score.
If you’re below 600, you’ll need to do some work to improve your score.” In this scenario, Example B is more likely to rank in the featured snippet. Example B is more concise and delivers the answer immediately, while Example A drones on and doesn’t answer what a good credit score is. If you want to appear in the Google answer box, you need to answer important questions or provide information about a topic as concise as possible.
Don’t fluff your content or take forever to answer the question. It’s better to answer the question outright and then expand on that information later.
2. Create high-quality, long-form content
Another way to appear in the Google direct answers section is to create high-quality, long-form content. If you want to have a chance at appearing in more featured snippets, you must deliver in-depth information to your audience. For a large majority of search results that deliver a Google answer box, the page in the box goes back to a high-quality and well-researched content page.
When users conduct searches, most of them are looking for information. If you create content, you can provide them with all the information they need about a topic. Additionally, your information can help you get into the Google answer box.
But you don’t want to create content for the sake of creating it. You need to create in-depth content that provides your audience with all the information they need. It should be high-quality and have substance so that your audience doesn’t need to keep searching around to find answers.
If you create high-quality, long-form content, you open the door for your business to appear in multiple featured snippets. You can reach a wider audience and drive more traffic to your site. By investing in high-quality and informative content, you’ll create more opportunities to appear in featured snippets.
3. Review your competition
If you’re new to optimizing for the Google answer box, you can look at your competitors for inspiration. Let’s say you’re writing a piece of content on the “best ways to clean your home.” Figure out how you can potentially rank for the featured snippet by searching to see if someone already appears in the Google answer box for that query. In this example, Nationwide appears in the featured snippet with a list of house cleaning tips.
When you click on the page and view it, you see that the entire page is a list of tips and that Google just pulled the numbers and headings from the page to create a concise answer. Based on this information, you might decide that creating a numbered list is the best option. Since Google generally “snips” featured snippets with numbered lists after eight points, you may try to create a list with nine or twelve points to entice people to click on your listing.
By looking at your competition, you’ll get a better idea of how you can rank for the Google answer box.
4. Consider the structure of your content
As you’re looking at how your competitors rank for the Google answer box, you’ll find that numerous formats appear in Position 0. If you want to have a successful Google answer box strategy, you must consider using a variety of content formats. Some of the most common Google answer box features include:
- Plain text
- Bulleted lists
- Ordered lists
Adding elements like bulleted lists and ordered lists can help you have a better chance of appearing in the Google answer box. The type of element will depend on the kind of query.
For example, let’s look at this query for “What is the best dog food.” For this search query, the Google answer box generates a bulleted list of the best dry dog foods. This format fits with the query because most people would expect to see a list of options of the best dog foods since it’s difficult to establish one specific dog food as the best. With another query, “why does my dog eat grass,” the featured snippet appears differently.
Instead of a bulleted list, this featured snippet answers the user’s search with plain text. The format of the Google answer box depends on the query. Before optimizing your website for a featured snippet, check the search results and the format of the featured snippet.
Either way, including these elements within your content can help readers skim your content and increase your chances of appearing in featured snippets. So, when you write content, consider places where you can add a bulleted list or table to better display information.
5. Create an FAQ page
As you optimize your Google answer box strategy, consider an FAQ page. If there are common questions about a topic in your industry, you can create an FAQ page to provide users with all the information they need about a subject. FAQ pages can help you appear in more featured snippets because they answer questions directly.
These pages answer questions quickly, so you’re more likely to keep answers concise already.
6. Integrate keywords into your pages
When you’re trying to optimize for the Google answer box, don’t forget that you still need to follow SEO best practices to help your site rank in search results. One of these best practices is keyword integration. If you want to rank for a specific search query, integrate keywords into your page.
Using keywords is essential for the featured snippet, too, because it helps Google determine relevancy. Let’s look at an example from Experian. The search query is “how to improve your credit score.” If you look at Experian’s featured snippet, you’ll see that they include the keyword in both their title tag and as a heading on their page.
If you visit their page, you’ll see keywords like “improve your credit score” throughout the text. So, if you want to have a better chance at ranking for the Google answer box, integrate keywords into your:
- Title tag
- Body text
Incorporating these keywords throughout your writing will help show Google that your page is relevant to the search query and give you a better chance at ranking for the Google direct answers section.
7. Optimize for voice search
When you optimize for the Google answer box, don’t forget about voice search. With the creation of devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo, voice searches are becoming more common. More than one billion voice searches happen each month.
So, what does voice search have to do with the Google answer box? Well, when users conduct voice searches, Google pulls the information from the Google answer box (if it’s present in the search results). At least 50% of searches rely on featured snippets to deliver information to voice searchers.
So, if you’re trying to rank for featured snippets, you’ll want to ensure that you’re optimizing for voice searches, too. You can optimize for voice searches by:
- Choosing the right keywords
- Optimizing for mobile
- Take regional slang into account if you’re targeting a specific area
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Build your Google answer box strategy today
If you want to appear in more Google answer boxes, you need to invest in an SEO strategy. SEO will help you optimize your content and appear in more relevant search results, so you have a better chance of winning the featured snippet.
At WebFX, we have over a decade of experience creating SEO campaigns. With our team of over 500 experts, you can count on us to deliver an SEO campaign that helps you improve your search result rankings and optimize your content. Ready to get started?