— March 14, 2018
What’s the one place in Google’s search results that’s better than the number one result? The Answer Box, also known as the featured snippet. Why? Because it brings people to directly to your content – serving as a teaser that sends them directly to you. It invests users in your content and brand before they even have a chance to know who you are. We’ve talked about rich snippets and how to make them work for you in our guide to Schema.
Because of the potential of this spot, there are a lot websites vying for it. That’s where knowing how to land your site in it matters. And here are five tips to help you get your content in the answer box.
Remember, because what shows in the box is algorithmic, and because there’s a patent on the Answer Box, you won’t see it anywhere else, at least for the time being. Get ready to double down on your SEO efforts.
Build Strong Foundational SEO
The results you see in Google’s Answer Box aren’t always in the number one spot on the page, but they are always within the top five. This means if you want a shot at getting your content there, you already need to be ranking highly on the keywords or questions. To do this, you’ll need a high volume of referring domains – and we recommend at least 1,000. Beyond the referring domains, the page you’re seeking to land in the Answer Box also needs to have a high engagement level.
When you know the page you want to see in the Answer Box, keep the content under 2,000 words, but make sure it provides substantial value. You’ll always get more favor from Google when you’re an authoritative site with relevant, valuable information, and frequent updates.
Make sure your website is optimized for mobile. Because half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, Google won’t give you much attention if your website isn’t optimized for it. You can use the Mobile-Friendly Tool to see if your website is already mobile friendly, and get some optimization suggestions to improve the user experience. Google first and foremost is about user experience, since they want to serve their end users (the searchers) and keep them happy.
Zero in on Questions Without Answer Boxes
Each search only has one Answer Box, so if there’s already one in place, you’re better served by finding one that doesn’t have an answer than you are trying to fight to knock the current answer out of its place. You can use your keyword research tools to determine questions that don’t have an Answer Box yet. Or, you can focusing on new words, since the ones that are established will have much higher competition for the Answer Box spot. Yes, it will take you more time to research and answer based on emerging keywords, but it will have a much greater pay off in the end.
That said, if you are dead set on taking over an answer box that already exists, you definitely have your work cut out for you. You’ll need to improve your SEO and build more links – so you’ll want to do some competitive research to see how many backlinks the current Answer Box site has in place, as well as the number of referring domains and traffic volume.
Focus on Entities
Entities are just as valuable as keywords, and you should focus on creating content that serves those just as well. While we won’t get into the overly complex definition of what Google considers an entity, we can say that it focuses on specific concepts and people. Instead of keywords, Costa Rica and J.K. Rowling are entities, rather than keywords. Combining an entity with keywords that relate to it creates an ideal situation for Google.
Google learns more about your keywords relate to what it is you’re saying, helping them figure out what is most relevant to the user who’s making the search. This helps narrow down the results and help the best rise to the top.
Reverse Engineer Content
When you’re creating new content, or taking the time to revamp your old content, keep the Answer Box a priority. If the content you’re creating is well written, informative, and valuable, it’s not going to detract from the content you write specifically for the Answer Box.
Most people who are going to your website are doing so because they want to answer a question, or find the solution to their pain point. If you start from that answer or solution and work backward, this means your content will not suffer, and you’ll be increasing your chances of securing the Answer Box spot from the beginning.
Improve Answer Score
Though most of Google’s algorithm secrets are usually under lock and key, we do know it looks for something called answer elements, and it scores your page backed on that. If the best answer to a question is a paragraph, it’s that paragraph that makes it to the Answer Box. If you can provide even more detail than that paragraph, you’re giving more answer elements.
Some answers feature step-by-step directions, images, and tables of raw data. Google counts every element of answer, so when you have anything like graphs, statistics, or data at the end of your answer, you’re boosting your answer score. If you answer questions that serve as supplements to the larger question, you’ll improve it even more.
While your instinct may tell you to choose one of these strategies and do it well, rather than trying to focus on all of them, you’ll get better results faster if you work on implementing all the strategies. Start small and scale up with each piece of content, as you start to see results.