If you’re trying to successfully drive traffic to your website’s blog page, getting to the top of Google’s search results is your biggest task. However, if you thought ranking at the number one position was the ultimate goal, you now have a new contender – the Google Answer Box or Featured Snippet.
Google introduced its new Answer Box feature in 2015. Referred to as the Google Answer Box or Rank 0 or Featured Snippet, this feature is a box you see above all search queries on Google. The Answer Box provides users with quick and easy answers or “snippets” of information. These answers are selected from content that ranks on page one, but not necessarily Position One.
Google Answer Boxes are not only convenient for users who are looking for answers, but it is also an excellent opportunity for brands to gain more page visitors, as Google Answer Boxes get a 2x higher click-through rate and steal most of the organic traffic on the internet.
Before we dive into a few more details, here’s a quick video on the benefits of Google Answer Boxes and how you can rank for them.
Before we get into how you can optimise your content to get a Google Answer Box, let’s take a look at the four different kinds of Featured Snippets.
Paragraph Featured Snippets will only include a short section of your content – around 40 to 50 words, so be sure to provide your answer within that limit. To maximise your chances of getting a Paragraph Featured Snippet, use the query as the title and then answer the query directly below, as seen in the example.
Numbered Featured Snippets appear for content that explains a step-by-step process. For example, a recipe or DIY project.
Bulleted Featured Snippets, on the other hand, will display content in a bulleted list where the order of the information doesn’t matter.
To optimise your content for a Numbered or Bulleted List Featured Snippet, you need to ensure that your content is formatted in the form of bullet points. Like in the case of a Paragraph Featured Snippet, you can maximise your chances of getting picked up by having the query as your main title and answering it directly below, this time as a list. Another way to optimise your content is by outlining steps in your blog post, and using each step as a heading.
Start by doing the work for Google – put your information in a table. Not only will this make your website’s visitors happy to get all the information they need at a glance, but it also makes it easier for Google to find your content. Finally, start with an appropriate heading followed by your table of data.
For further information on how to get your videos to rank, head over to our in-depth article on YouTube SEO Tips: The Secret Sauce to Ranking Videos in 2019.
Now that you know the basics of optimising your content for the different types of Featured Snippets, let’s delve a little deeper into a few more best practices you can adopt for your content to get its own Google Answer Box.
The first rule of getting a Featured Snippet is ensuring your content answers specific queries. More often than not, when a user types in a query, it is in the form of implicit or explicit questions and long phrases. Structuring your content to answer these questions and phrases effectively is how to rank in Position 0.
For example, if the query you wish to get a Google Answer Box for is “Best residential localities in Coimbatore” try and match it as closely as possible to that keyword so that you have the chance to appear as a Featured Snippet. Additionally, make sure your answer is precise and that you stay within the prescribed word limit of 40 to 50 words (a maximum of 100 words) or 3 to 4 sentences. If you’re looking for more information to rank higher in the search results, take a look at our blog on must know Google Search tips and tricks.
Efficient and effective keyword research is the cornerstone to any great piece of content. Creating content without adequate keyword research is like shooting an arrow in the dark – you stand very little chance of ranking in Google’s SERPs.
Before you begin writing content for a Google Answer Box, start your keyword research by looking for question-type queries – those that begin with what, why or how, as well as long-tail queries with no question words. The aim here is to include a seed keyword with as many long-tail keywords as you can in your article. This way, you can create well-written long-form content that answers multiple related questions in a clear and cohesive manner.
To intensify your keyword research, there are a number of tools at your disposal, namely Moz’ Keyword Explorer, Answer The Public or Ahrefs. These tools will be able to throw up more results related to your search query helping your broaden your search for keywords that trigger a Google Answer Box.
You can also browse through Google's own "People also ask" section to further research your topic or selected keyword. These related questions can offer massive insights into what Google considers related topics to your own. You can also check out our blog on On-page and Off-page SEO Tips for 2019 for more information.
Very often, many of Google’s Answer Boxes are filled with content that doesn’t fully answer user queries. Target such examples and ensure your content is better aligned to what users are looking for. If your competition has a Google Answer Box for a particular keyword, read through the content and analyse if you can create similar content or can modify your own existing content to better respond to the search query. This increases your chances of getting your own Answer Box and staying in Position 0 for much longer.
Getting a Featured Snippet isn’t just about the quality of your content. You can also improve the design and experience you provide your visitors. Not only do phenomenal UI and UX play critical roles signal Google to rank your website higher, but also heighten your chances of holding on to your Featured Snippet.
Once you’ve achieved your Featured Snippet, work does not end. Answer Box results can change in mere seconds, so the onus is on you to constantly track your progress – for how long you have managed to sustain your Position 0 or if you have slipped down the rankings. Try different things like opting for a table or a list instead of giving information in the form of a paragraph, or answering queries that appear in Google’s related search queries. Including high-resolution images with the right captions and tags and structuring your content with appropriate headings and sub-headings in H2 and H3 tags are also a few ways to help you improve your content and the user experience you provide.
The final point to keep in mind is optimising your content for voice search. India is seeing a 270% year-on-year growth in voice searches, as revealed in the 2017 Google India ‘Year in Search’ Report. As marketers, it becomes imperative for you to action change and leverage the power of Voice Search marketing to tap into India’s next billion users. A vast majority of them will be accessing the internet from Tier II and Tier III cities and Voice Search is a more convenient option than typed queries, particularly because they will be engaging in vernacular languages.
Additionally, Voice Search queries are very often picked up from Featured Snippets, particularly by smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home. Brands will need to constantly update and optimise their content to stay in Position Zero to feature prominently for Voice Search queries. You can also check out our detailed video on Voice Search Marketing for more information.
With these tips in hand, you’re now ready to win your own Google Answer Box! Remember to implement all of these strategies as Google’s Answer Box feature is in a constant state of flux, with rankings and results changing overnight. Keeping yourself up-to-date with the latest trends in digital marketing, will enable you to rank higher, achieve a Featured snippet and sustain it for an extended period of time. Before you go, take a look at our informative video that further explains how to optimise your content for a Google Answer Box.