Winning the Google Answer Box
When you win the “Answer Box” in SEO with Google, it’s like winning a beautiful free paid ad that leap frogs your website to the top of the competition. Answer boxes come in many forms, depending on your industry, and have been nicknamed “position 0.” They were created by Google as a way to deliver the BEST result possible to the user, and the user generally gets a lot of valuable information from the box of information displayed. There are several ways to optimize for the answer box.
Just this week my company website that specializes in Gold Spot Prices published a change to our historical price tracker page that resulted in us winning the answer box in less than 24 hours.
There are several things you’ll notice about this particular answer box.
- It has an image of a beautiful Gold American Eagle coin.
- There’s organized information.
- It’s a copy of the live updated information portrayed from the website.
- It still links to the information.
Users who want to know specific information, get that information instantly from their Google search. Many users will not even need to click on the result because they already know what they were seeking. YET – many users do still click. A significant portion of them will end up clicking on the answer box, and at a higher proportion than a regular organic listing because they already know the credibility of the source. Many users will want to know even more information from this new trusted source they found.
In the example above, after winning the answer box, we added column headers for “Gold Price Today” and “Spot Change” to make it even more understandable to the search query. Google had the updates displayed within a couple of hours. So it’s entirely possible to optimize the answer box, even after you win it. I think Google has gotten even better at this recently because some of the blog posts out there from a year ago on answer boxes suggested that Google would cache the result and maintain it even months after the content of a page was gone.
Reasons why optimizing for the answer box is a good idea:
- Gives you #1 Organic Position
- Generates more clicks than a regular #1 Organic Position
- It’s free
- It doesn’t look like an ad
- BUT – it’s as beautiful as an ad
Prediction: Answer box results are on the rise, and will inevitability reshape search over the coming 3 years
Back in September of 2014, Moz was tracking the percentage of answer box results. On 9/26/14 the use of answer boxes doubled to 3.5% of all results. SearchEngineLand found that answer boxes led to incredible click through rates of 33% (that’s like double a “regular” #1 organic listing). In February of 2015 one study showed 20% of all search queries were rich answer box results. I personally found that number too high compared to Moz’s study in a short time period. So it’s possible that latest study was true for only some industries.
With that said, I believe we could see answer boxes double, triple, and even quadruple in 2016 year over year. And than over the next 3 years, we will see answer boxes appear in as many as 33% of all results. So if your SEO team isn’t optimizing for answer boxes now, you’re missing the inevitable strategic shift of opportunity in SEO.
Some SEOs think Google will eventually monetize answer boxes. I think that’s possible, but I think it’s more likely Google will only monetize answer boxes for retail, and leave the factual information gathering answer boxes alone. For example, Google might end up monetizing “Best place to buy (fill in blank)” just like they did with PLAs, paid search, and other products in the past. The primary payers of those systems? Retail.
Okay – so how do I optimize for the answer box?
You’re going to need a website with high site authority to begin with. If you just launched a website, chance are your authority isn’t established enough to even compete on this scale. If you have some great content that already gets thousands of visitors, it will be easier to optimize that than to launch a new page. Building something that has schema, markup, or at least a direct answer to a question, are good starting points to winning the answer box.
In short – you’ll need a page of content that has meta tags optimized, relevant information that answers a query, and keywords in the copy.
Resources you will need:
- Good content
- High site authority
- A developer
- An SEO expert to marry all of those things together.
If you need help with your SEO, contact me for consulting in the evenings and weekends.
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