If you’ve searched for something using Google, you’ve probably noticed that the search engine often showcases one search query result in its own boxed-in, designated area. This area is called the Google Answer Box.
What is the Google Answer Box?
Technically termed a featured snippet, the Google Answer Box is shown at the top of Google’s search engine results page, along with other results located below. That answer box page answers the user’s question in three different ways- as a paragraph, an (often bulleted) list, or as a table.
Below are some examples of Google Answer Boxes and the information that they contain. The most common type of content provided within the Google Answer Box is the paragraph (63%), followed by the list (19%) and the table (16%).
Notice that Google Answer Boxes often contain a URL leading back to the source of the answer. This means that the site being showcased has an increased chance of traffic and clicks because viewers are going back to it for additional information.
There are other benefits for a website, blog or web page that is featured in the Google Answer Box. These benefits include a top position in the search results, improved branding and increased authority in the queried field. There is one additional benefit to having this top spot on Google, which will be mentioned below.
How do you get into the Google Answer Box?
Perform keyword research
You should first research which keywords to use in your content by taking advantage of Google’s Keyword Planner or some other keyword search tool, such as Moz’s Keyword Explorer. Here, you can better understand which questions are being asked most often, and you can also obtain keyword suggestions to those questions. This makes you better able to insert keywords and key phrases that are used by Google.
Formulate your content to answer the question
The Google Answer Box, by its very definition, answers questions. So, if you have content to publish on your web page, blog, etc., you’ll want to formulate the beginning of that content as an answer to a question. Also, use your content “answer” on your web page title, tables, section header and image captions.
Don’t forget to use SEO best practices when creating each page of content. Google selects only page 1 search results for the answer box. Therefore, your content SEO must be stellar.
However, unlike typical SEO where you would also include related questions and terms, here you need to be more literal. Thus, your content titled “best exercises for a pinched nerve” must specifically answer the question of which exercises would help resolve a pinched nerve. You should not try to skirt around this question by providing related content such as “pinched nerve exercises for newbies” or “how long does it take for a pinched nerve to heal.” However, such related topics could be included on other web pages to boost your overall site SEO.
Check on your competition
Check out your competitors to find out if they have already been featured in the Google Answer Box for content that is similar to yours. If you do find a competitor, then you’ll need to provide a better quality answer to the same search query. Alternately, you’ll need to find a different query to answer if you don’t wish to fight with your competitor for that particular Google Answer Box.
In some cases, your competition will have its answer featured in Google’s Answer Box simply because no better answer exists. If you find a poorly structured answer, you may be able to knock it out of the box by providing a better formatted and more detailed answer.
How do you improve your content?
Google has been emphasizing the use of semantic language in online content over keyword and/or link stuffing. Unfortunately, many webmasters still employ outdated and/or spammy techniques in an effort to win the SEO game. Key SEO mistakes are listed here.
SEO best practices include using terms and/or questions that are related to each other, providing content that is structured by headings, lists, and concise paragraphs, and including properly alt text-labeled images.
Remember that you don’t have to be ranked as #1 in search all results to win the Google Answer Box. You just need to be on page #1 of those search results. Thus, you get 10 chances to be picked as “the” answer by Google.
Finally, try to not “give away the store” in the first few sentences of your answer. If you do this, then readers have no reason to click on your URL and go to your website. To utilize Google’s snippet length strategically, create a longer and more detailed paragraph that answers the question posed but doesn’t do so right away. Alternately, create a numbered list where the reader has to click on your URL to access all the listed items.
You can sneak in a call-to-action!
The Google Answer Box doesn’t just accommodate long-form text. When carefully planned, box text can even contain a call-to-action or CTA. How?
In cases where there is significant content to present, you might wish to provide the user with a “Download Now” button or some other feature that entices the user to go to your page. Alternately, you may generate a long table or PDF and have your readers go to that resource on your page. In short, you can use the Google Answer Box to advertise your website.
Taking advantage of the Google Answer Box
The Google Answer Box is an amazing opportunity for you, the webmaster and/or affiliate marketer, to benefit from what is essentially high-end yet free promotion of your website, products, blog, etc. When carefully executed, your content strategy can help you win access to this exclusive real estate in Googleland. By following the steps outlined above, you’ll have a much better chance at winning this box and staying there.