Google is increasing the number of queries that receive a Google Quick Answer box. The number of results that had an answer box went from just over 20% in December 2014 to more than 30% in May 2016.*
Brands that wish to maintain a strong digital presence need to make sure their website is well represented within these rich answers.
Answer boxes provide users with scannable, easy-to-digest answers at the top of the search results so that users can find the information they seek without having to click off to another website.
These answer boxes are pulled from high-ranking websites that Google trusts to provide users with the correct response. They appear most frequently in response to question queries, such as those beginning with ‘what is’ or ‘how to’.
As they become increasingly significant on SERPs, companies who are not optimized to receive Quick Answers have a good chance of falling behind and losing ground to others in their industry.
How do Google Quick Answers impact brands?
When Quick Answers first appeared, many site owners became nervous about the potential implications for site traffic. With the answer to many queries appearing right at the top of the page, users would theoretically lose their motivation to click through to the websites.
Some sites found this to be true. Wikipedia, for example, saw a drop in traffic that many attributed to the growth of Quick Answers. This is likely because the domain specializes in providing people with the type of rapid response that many can now receive right on the SERP.
However many business websites started to see tremendously positive results.
It is important to remember that Quick Answers are not just taken from results in position 1 on the SERP. The can come from any result on the page, although the majority come from the top 5 results.
This means however that sites ranked in position 3 or 4 can receive an answer box and suddenly be front and centre on the page, without even earning the top ranking spot. This draws the user’s attention to this result and can have a very positive impact on site success.
Adobe, for example, benefited from a 17% incremental lift on topics on which it has secured the Quick Answer box. The results contributed to millions of additional visitors to Adobe.com.
Kirill Kronrod at Adobe reported that within the sub-set of 2,000 How-To phrases, 60% produced Quick Answers, contributing to 84% share of voice with Quick Answer boxes for the main site and 98% including supporting sites.
Quick Answers help Google improve the user experience, and your brand needs to optimize to remain relevant.
The ABCs of succeeding with Google Quick Answers
A) Understand the four key factors that matter for Quick Answers
Although there is no concrete formula that brands have to meet before they will receive a Quick Answer, there are a few commonalities that sites which earn the answer box tend to have.
- Sites have over 1,000 referring domains
- Pages rank in the top 5
- Pages are less than 2,000 words
- Pages have strong user engagement
All of these factors demonstrate to Google that you have a site appreciated by users and that offers value to readers. These factors show that you offer an authoritative resource, making you appealing to Google.
B) Find the best opportunities to explore
It is important to find opportunities where you have a reasonable chance of gaining an answer box.
Since only one site can have it at a time, you need to have the domain authority and response needed to make your page stand out. SEO software can be an enormous asset in this quest.
You can research which keywords have high traffic and which ones already have Quick Answers. If the keyword already has a Quick Answer, you will need to investigate the page to see if you can outperform it.
If it does not, then you can see if an answer box would be the optimal display for the user. Make sure that the pages you select to optimize for the Quick Answers will lend themselves easily to you fulfilling the four key factors.
C) Optimize your site for the answer box
On-page optimization: you will need to follow on-page optimization best practices to improve the ranking of your site. These will include using your target keyword in titles and headings, linking to other pages in your site, and making your page more engaging with images and other rich media.
Remember that Google wants to be able to pull the answer quickly from your text, so include the answer to the target question in the first paragraph and use lists and bullets – which are appealing both for users and search engines – where possible.
Off-page optimization: you want to focus on cultivating backlinks, so look for opportunities to write guest posts to bring links to your site. It is also important to develop a thorough content distribution system that will attract attention to your content.
When people are exposed to your content and it provides them with value, they become more likely to share it with others and link back to it themselves. For off-page optimization, you also want to submit pages to Google Search Console to maximize visibility.
Technical optimization: use schema markup to increase visibility for your site. Schema was developed as means of providing search engines with an optimal look at your site. It will help the search engines quickly interpret your material, which will aid Google in its quest to quickly pull answers from websites.
Of course, your pages should also be optimized for mobile, since not being mobile-friendly can hurt sites in the SERPs and hinder the user experience. Also include your page in your XML sitemap to ensure that Google can easily find and interpret the material.
Google Quick Answers offer users an improved user experience, making them popular with the search engine. To remain relevant for customers, you need to follow these ABCs and ensure your site is optimized to provide the answer box for the key terms that are important for your business. For more information, check out our Quick Answers pdf guide.
*(source Stone Temple Consulting)