If you use Google on a regular basis then you’ve likely noticed that search results are not like they used to be. Very seldomly can you search a topic these days and only see 10 results with a few sponsored ads. Now it seems like Google regularly adds a new box to the search results pages in order to answer questions immediately, without the user having to click on anything. For example, type in Blade Runner 2049 and you’ll be bombarded by ads, a full knowledge graph panel, showtimes for the movie, top stories and Twitter feeds until you finally reach the first organic result. Google’s extensive push towards rich results not only brings challenges but also new opportunities. The answer boxes can make you an instant star in the SERPS. Curious how to get one? That’s what I’m going to show you in this post!
What are answer boxes?
The Google answer box (or featured snippet) is a highlighted search box that answers the question a user directly types into the Google search bar. Since the answer box is situated above the regular organic search results, every single user is bound to see it. With that in mind, you can probably imagine the effect getting your answer placed there might have. Having your content as an answer box not only brings in lots of additional traffic, it also proves your authority on the subject. I mean, Google picked you, didn’t they?
Answer boxes will often appear as a paragraph or bulleted list, accompanied by an image. The image won’t always come from the article itself as Google seems to pick it separately, and sometimes from a competitor. Visit the Google search engine and try typing in improve mobile site or how to improve mobile site. You’ll notice that both of these terms yield answer boxes with eight tips to improve your mobile site. Notice how the content is structured in an easy to understand way. Google was able to determine that structure automatically and found that post to provide the best answer for the question, and you can do that too!
How to write content for Google answer boxes
There are several different ways you can try and aim for answer boxes. Listed below are some things you need to keep in mind when writing content for Google answer boxes.
As a final suggestion, always try and find a way to get people to click on the answer box. You don’t want them to read the answer box and then move on. In the end, your goal should be to get them to visit your website. Therefor, don’t give away all the answers immediately, but try to trigger people to come to your site so they can get the full picture.
Answer boxes and structured data
There tends to be a misconception that you always need to markup your articles with structured data if you want to get into the answer boxes. This is not true! In some cases (like with recipes) structured data can certainly help, but it is not a requirement for you to show up in Google answer boxes. If you have content like recipes (or any type of the content types listed by Google) adding the correct structured data will improve your chances of getting an answer box. It’s like telling Google what your page is about by shouting it into a megaphone. These days, Google instantly understands content that has been enhanced with structured data and will show it in all kinds of cool search features. If you’re someone who wants to learn more about structured data then I recommend doing a quick Google search about it. You can find lots of great tips and tutorials around the web!
Google determines everything
As always, Google and only Google will pick the answers it shows in the search results, if it shows any at all. In the end, there is no secret magic formula to the answers box. Google says the science behind it is in flux. Even the way Google finds and presents answer boxes is constantly changing. I can imagine they look at a variety of metrics including engagement, CTR, backlinks, and more when determining which answer to award. Follow the tips above and you stand a good chance of Google picking your website for the answers box!