What’s the one place in Google’s search results that’s better than the number one result? The Answer Box is also known as the featured snippet. Why? Because it brings people directly to your content – serving as a teaser that sends them straight 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 of 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 now. Get ready to double down on your SEO efforts.
Build Strong Foundational SEO
The results in Google’s Answer Box aren’t always in the number one spot on the page but are still within the top five. You need to rank highly on the keywords or questions to get your content there. You’ll need a high volume of referring domains to do this – and we recommend at least 1,000. Beyond the referring disciplines, the page you’re seeking to land in the Answer Box must also 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 ensure 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. 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. First, Google 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 business. You can use your keyword research tools to determine questions that don’t have an Answer Box yet. Or, you can focus on new words since the established ones will compete more for the Answer Box spot. Yes, researching and answering based on emerging keywords will take you more time, but it will ultimately have a much higher payoff.
That said, your work is cut out if you are dead set on taking over an existing answer box. 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, 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 complicated 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 related to what you’re saying, helping them determine what is most relevant to the user searching. This helps narrow down the results and promotes 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 visit your website to answer a question or find the solution to their pain. If you start from that answer or solution and work backward, 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 know it looks for answer elements, and it scores your page back on that. If the best answer to a question is a paragraph, that paragraph 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 solution element, so when you have graphs, statistics, or data at the end of your answer, you’re boosting your answer score. You’ll improve it even more if you answer questions that supplement the larger question.
While your instinct may tell you to choose one of these strategies and do it well, rather than focusing on all of them, you’ll get better results faster if you work on implementing all the procedures. Start small and scale up with each piece of content as you see results.