Hey everyone, Kelvin here!
Todays post is from our friend James Pointon from OpenAgent. He's going to share a few strategies on getting your site into Google's coveted answer box (aka Rank 0.)
From the few conversations I've had with James, I'm always more and more excited about his knowledge of SEO and content marketing. He truly is a marketing wizard!
I think you guys will really enjoy this guest post and feel free to leave some comments at the bottom since James said he would answer any if they came.
I'll let him take it away now.
You probably noticed that when searching for a term on Google, sometimes you get not only the classic list of search results, but also an information box displayed on top of the page. Most of the time, that's where you'll find the most relevant answer to your question or a description of your search term.
This snippet below is part of Google’s Rich Answer Box, a feature which has been here for while now, but it's now becoming more important to users looking for quick answers, maps, recipes, listings and other information.
Thanks to the smart information box, users can quickly read the content without having to scroll through a lengthy article.
What kind of content lands in the box? If you think Google automatically uploads the top-ranking content into its Answer Box, you're in for a surprise. It's not what always happens.
So how does Google pick which content to display in its Answer Boxes? Is there a way to optimize your content to boost your chances at landing this prominent position in Google's search results?
Here are 5 tips to help you get your content featured in Google’s Rich Answer Box and seriously improve the amount of organic traffic directed from Google to your website.
1) Identify User Queries
Why did Google come up with the Answer Box in the first place? The idea behind this smart information box is to help users save time when they're looking for an answer or description on Google.
If you produce content that focuses on topics that are widely covered on the web, your chances of landing in Google's Answer Box are relatively small – unless you already have a high SERP ranking.
That's why your first task it to identify more complex questions users are asking on Google to find out potential ways to lead them to your website.
Conduct keyword research and look for questions that you'll be able to answer in depth. It's smart to use a Keyword Planner at this point – it helps to find queries that are relevant to your industry. All it takes is picking a product category and adding a question-related word like “how” or “why”. You'll get a list of keyword ideas together with their number of monthly searches.
Another great strategy is to see what kind of queries Google suggests as you start typing your question. Google generates these suggestions automatically on the basis of the searches performed by its users. If you see the “Related Searches” box or the “People also ask” box, don't hesitate to have a look.
If you want to learn which queries don't have a quick answer yet, use a tool like BrightEdge and you'll be able to target your content around these unanswered questions within Google’s Rich Answer Box.
I had to pry James for more info on BrightEdge's capabilities and he mentioned that,
"BrightEdge allows you to find the best possible Rich Answer Box opportunities by reviewing your provided keywords and showing you which ones already have their Rich Answer Box results. With this, you can easily focus your attention and target your content around those keywords that aren't present in Quick Answer Box yet, greatly improving your chances of getting there."
They put out a white paper here on Google's answer box that you'll have to submit contact info for, but it's a good read.
2) Answer the Questions Directly
It doesn't matter whether you're answering a query or providing a description of a term – you need to be clear and straightforward with your answer. Google's algorithm concentrates on user's intent, so it's crucial that you consider different motivations that might lead a user to ask a question.
To craft your answer, use the query or the keyword in your headline. Then explicitly answer the question in your content. Your answer should be a complete sentence located at the top of your page. Make sure to use your keyword throughout the entire copy.
3) Make the Most Out of Entities
What are entities? They're not keywords, but the things that keywords identify. Several different keywords can identify one entity. Entities can be personal (for example, a name), geographical (a place), or topical (referring to an object).
The smart semantic search function at Google can work out the meaning of different search queries and offer information and entities in the search results.
That's why you should pay extra attention to entities when writing your content. Make sure that it's clear which entities are described on your website. You can do that by using specific nouns, names, and verbs.
SEO shifted its focus from “strings” to “things” a while a go, and so should you.
Help Google learn what your content is really about. That's how the search engine will know whether it could be used in the Rich Answer Box.
If you need help in detecting entities in your text, consider using AlchemyAPI which is now part of IBM's Watson Developer Cloud. It's a tool where you just enter the URL and upload your text to analyze the content and find out to what keywords and phrases it points.
4) Implement Good SEO Practices
It should go without saying, but it's essential that you adopt all the most important SEO techniques on your website to make sure that your content has a greater chance of ranking high and being featured in the Rich Answer Box.
Here's what you should do to boost the relevance of your content for Google search algorithms:
- Use smart crosslinks and backlinks;
- Include your query in the website's header, alt tags, meta data, and URL;
- Make the most out of Schema markup to help Google identify the entities in the source code of your website. You need clear semantic markup to help Google get the information you want to foreground. Have a look at Schema.org to learn more about it.
Crosslinks can be thought of as 'relevancy links'. Meaning that each is meant to supplement the other because of the information from the original article. This can be on sites you own (in the case of a PBN and internal linking) or sites you don't own at all. As long as they are relevant.
5) Don't Forget About User Experience
It never pays to think just about Google when constructing that content for your website.
That's why you should consider users first and make sure that they have a great experience while browsing the content on your website. That's how you encourage them to visit your website for a longer time, boosting your chances at leading them down your sales funnel.
When creating your digital marketing campaign, be holistic and develop amazing desktop and mobile environments that provide an unforgettable user experience to your visitors.
Get rid of all the potential roadblocks on your website that might cause users to leave it. Everything should be clear and consistent – from the visual to textual content. Structure your website using subheadings, bullet-point lists, and tables.
Google’s Rich Answer Box is considered the most prestigious “position zero” on Google search results page today. That's why it's such a powerful position to land.
It increases brand awareness, leads many new users to your website, and helps you to build a solid audience base.
Optimize your content to be featured in Google’s Rich Answer Box – there are still many queries that hasn't been covered in the functionality. Tap into more complex queries and understand what users look for – that's what will get you to the Rich Answer Box.
Use these 5 tips to land your content in Google's Rich Answer Box and drive plenty of users to your website.