Are you struggling to draw traffic to your site? Online competition is growing exponentially as more and more people are designing personal and business websites every day. Understanding and overcoming the challenges of Google’s algorithms can substantially help you with your digital marketing skills.
If Google search results are what’s bringing users to your web page, you’re bound to have a successful online blog or business. That is because your content will surely resonate with your online visitors. Continue reading to learn more about how Google Answer Box and keyword research can help you gain organic traffic to your site. There is no other search engine feature that could get you as much visibility and exposure as the Google Answer Box.
What is the Google Answer Box?
When you type in a specific question in Google’s search bar, you may have seen that a featured snippet will show up on the search engine results page (SERP) with a direct answer to the query. This algorithm is the Google Answer Box. The answer box brings in the user’s attention through its position at the top of the page, shadow box outline, and larger text font. It may be in the form of a video, graph, image, map, score, or plain text.
Google Answer Box is a component of the Google Knowledge Graph database. Google’s Knowledge Graph collects millions of bits of data from the keywords people search and SERP results. Google then evaluates this data to present users with the most relevant information. Besides the Google Answer Box, the Google Knowledge Graph may appear as a banner or carousel of images on the top of your screen. The most common graph appears as a box on the right portion of your SERP with easy-to-read lists of structured data regarding the query, organization, person, company, or place that was searched.
This database helps Google decide which pieces of content would provide the best answer to the search query. It knows almost exactly what each user wants to search for by studying what they search and which websites or ads that they click on. Because Google’s Answer Box is such an optimal search feature, it is often referred to as “position zero” or “direct answer.” The main goal of the Answer Box is to quickly answer the user’s question.
Here’s an example of how the Google Answer Box works. Someone might visit Google on their smartphone and do a quick voice search on “How to plant a flower?” A Google Answer Box will appear with a short featured snippet from a YouTube video that shows exactly how to plant a flower. The algorithm lets Google know precisely what to look for when it comes to answering the questions put in by users.
What Types of Google Answer Boxes Exist?
Featured snippets come in all different arrangements and forms on Google. There are five key types of Google Answer Boxes that users might see on their SERP.
Here are the main forms of featured snippets:
- The most common Google Answer Box is in the form of a website extraction. Website extractions consist of extracted content from websites that regularly include detailed descriptions or definitions for keywords that users lookup. Sites used for definitions will almost always have high authority and, of course, have the question clearly written in their text.
- A Google widget is the second most popular type of Answer Box. Widgets don’t have a source but are extremely helpful in supplying users with quick, precise answers. Google has widgets for measurements and measurement conversions, currency conversions, weather, driving or map directions, translating languages. A user does not even need to visit a website to get the answer to their question when a widget pops up in the Answer Box. This saves them a lot of clicks and time. Example questions that may lead to a Google Widget appearing in the Answer Box are: “What is the weather?”, “How many inches is 456 centimeters?”, or “How far is Walgreens Pharmacy from here?”
- The third most common type of content that shows up in the Answer Box is web dictionary definitions. Google provides a phenomenal dictionary service for people who need to look up words or find synonyms or antonyms of words, and so on. They usually pull their definitions from Oxford Languages. These definitions give the user the option of viewing translations or phrases that use the word being searched. This form of a Google Answer Box almost always appears if a user searches phrases such as: “What does uncanny mean?”, “Define uncanny”, “Similar words to uncanny”, or, simply, “Uncanny.”
- The next kind of Google Answer Box would be videos. A video usually comes up if a user is entering a search query regarding an action. For example, “How to do the floss dance?” The source of Google’s videos in such cases is most commonly YouTube.
- Additionally, featured snippets may appear as real-time results. Real-time results are especially convenient for users searching up event times, stock market prices, or competition/game scores. Google’s real-time results appear as a Google widget without any source. Still, they are vetted by Google for offering effective, reliable information. By way of illustration, if a user looks up “What is the Cardinals game score?”, Google will provide the current score. This widget box also includes possible tabs for the user to click on to deepen their search. Game score tabs include “News,” “Standings,” and “Players,” for example. This feature is more of a benefit to users than it is to website creators. However, the news panel does give a list of clickable URLs that can direct traffic to news organizations or sports blogs.
These are just the major types of Google Answer Boxes out there. There are other various forms of featured snippets that could appear depending on how a search query is phrased. Websites have a great chance of gaining some SERP traction if they can tailor their web pages and articles to reach Google’s criteria of a near-perfect answer. As of now, Google can extract your website content to be used as a definition or description for a large search volume.
The Benefits of Having Your Content Appear in the Google Answer Box
The Google Answer Box algorithm is a win-win situation for users and website creators alike. Users gain the benefit of an easier and much quicker search experience. They save themselves the trouble of choosing which site to click on, as Google has already done part of the work for them.
But how is the Answer Box beneficial to content creators? Here are a few reasons:
- Answer Boxes can secure a 32% to 51% click-through rate (CTR). CTR is the ratio of the number of users who click on a link to the number of total users that view the search results.
- It gives you a chance of being the first result on users’ SERP and can bring in large amounts of traffic to your site.
- It generates higher exposure to your site.
- Appearing in the Answer Box will raise your ranking with Google.
- Users can find your site via voice search results from Siri or Alexa.
How Does Google Decide Who the First Search Result Is?
Just like every other algorithm, Google is constantly updating, changing, and improving its Answer Box features. For example, Google changes its search algorithm between 500 to 600 times each year. Therefore, there is no clear-cut method for how Google chooses which site or information to put into an Answer Box for a specific query. Notwithstanding that fact, there are still some technical characteristics of the Google Answer Box algorithm that should remain the same.
Google decides which featured snippets deserve to land in its Answer Box mostly from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) technicalities. Google breaks down most questions into the “entity” and the “attribute.” For example, let’s take the search query “What is the USA’s population?” In this case, the entity is the “USA” while the attribute is its “population.” This algorithm works for all possible question phrases, such as those starting with “What” or “Who.”
Unfortunately, there are so many questions to be asked and Google doesn’t have an answer for everything. That said, you should find answers to most questions that are frequently asked or very simple and direct. The teams at Google are trying to enhance the search engine’s abilities in finding answers to more user queries. They are working in areas such as extracting entities from queries (US80058524 B2), returning factual answers in response to queries (US8655866 B1), and retrieval of information items (US8719244 B1).
These algorithms can seem complex and hard to grasp. Just know that Google is trying to match each search phrase with the right knowledge or information. They also are trying to identify whether a search question is a question of fact or opinion. With an internal scoring system, the search engine ranks results that come up as potential answers. The information with the highest-ranking result from Google will be the one appearing in the Answer Box.
Another way that Google decides which content will appear in the Answer Box for your question is by acknowledging your location. Most Google users share their location through their IP address when they use the search engine on their mobile device or computer. Using this information, Google could tailor your SERP based on your location.
For example, if someone is located in the USA (and therefore searching the web with a US IP address), their search results will be different than those of a user located in India. If the person from New York types in “How much is a plane ticket to Dubai?”, their featured snippet would show information for flights from New York to Dubai, whereas if a person in India wrote the same question, their featured snippet would show flight results specific to their geographic area.
Best Practices to Appear in the Answer Box or Featured Snippet
Because the algorithm is always changing, there is no distinct way for a content creator to make sure their site will appear in Google’s Answer Box. However, those websites that do make it as featured snippets tend to share some basic overall characteristics.
Of course, content should receive the highest ranking relative to other information sources on the web to become the “best answer.” A great way to rank highest is to have the title of your web page or article stating the question at hand. Then, you would write the answer directly in the first paragraph or at least very close to the written question.
The page selected as the featured snippet will often repeat the wording of the question into the answer to make a complete sentence. Also, it’s important to note that, in general, the content chosen will be from a reputable, trustworthy website. This is why official pages, news sites, or “.edu” pages will usually appear in Google’s Answer Box.
How to Optimize for Google Answer Box?
Because Google’s Answer Box algorithm is ever-changing, there is always a new opportunity to have your site’s content appear in the featured snippet. Landing in the Google Answer Box will increase your website authority greatly. It’s a high five from Google in saying that your content is top-notch and extremely useful for users with questions.
The question is: How can you optimize for Google Answer Box and increase your chances of landing in it? There are quite a few Google Answer Box optimization steps that you can take to get closer to being the best answer to a Google search question.
Other factors that may affect your ranking with Google as a reputable source of information include how much social media presence you have, whether you appear on someone else’s backlink profile, or the number of referring domains you have.
Luckily, there are many factors in your hands for Google Answer Box optimization. Here are the most important strategies you can use that will help you score the coveted “position zero”:
- Identify the right keywords: Doing extensive keyword research is a great way to optimize your content to land in the Answer Box. The easiest tool to use to identify keywords that have the highest potential for their own Answer Box is cognitiveSEO’s Content Optimizer and Keyword Tool. By using this keyword tool, you can search any keyword that is relevant to your web page and view a detailed analysis of it. For example, if you want to create content based on planting gardens, you might want to rank high on query subjects relating to “flowers.” Of course, flowers itself isn’t a distinct enough keyword. That is where the Content Optimizer and Keyword Tool comes in handy. It will give you a wide variety of uniquely suggested phrases that include the word “flowers.” Each phrase is accompanied by the number of times it has been searched on Google. It even tells you the common price per click for each phrase. It helps you see what Google users value on the topic of flowers. This helps you create content geared toward potential site visitors or potential search questions in your domain. Identifying practical phrases with the right keywords gives you a greater chance at ranking high with Google for a specific field, whereas the word “flower” alone would put you in a vast pool of competition. Ranking “position zero” for “When flowers blossom” would be much more feasible. Additionally, the keyword tool has a ranking analysis feature. This can help you see which websites are currently ranking the highest in content for a given keyword. This way, you can get an idea of competition in your niche.
- Work on your SEO writing: You have to make sure to write with SEO in mind to be relevant on a Google searcher’s SERP. Good SEO writing will make your content more visible on search engines like Google. The first thing to keep in mind when writing for SEO is your target audience. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential reader and ask yourself, “What would they like to see?” Write content that is interesting and pertains to your niche using the right keywords. Second, you should always focus on creating an attention-grabbing headline. Putting the main keyword in a question form as your article or web page title is a great way to optimize for the Google Answer Box. Third, Google and its users like content that is neat and easy to read. Every content creator should always structure their content in an organized format. You may want to break up your content into sections with different subheadings (H2 and H3 formatting). This can help Google better recognize distinct information that may answer different questions. Lastly, remember to make proper use of categories and tags as you normally would. Incorporating imagery helps, too, as many times Answer Boxes will include the website’s image over the text. Overall, the more orderly your content is, the higher chance it has of making it into featured snippets. Featured snippets always have very clear and structured descriptions, lists, or definitions.
- Add short answers to your content: It’s important that you answer the question at hand early on in your article or web page. It should be written in a short, concise, and easily understandable way in the page’s first paragraph. Writing out the question with your keyword followed by a short-form answer is a great way to land in the Answer Box. Once you state the question and answer, you can freely write about the topic with as much information as you deem necessary. You shouldn’t be afraid to answer more than one question in a given article, either.
- Use numbered lists: This goes along with SEO writing. Google gives high rankings to websites with concise numbered lists and tables. That is because a list or table makes the information very easy to read and share. Google wants users to have the best experience possible with simple content consumption. Therefore, you have a higher chance of Google choosing your content to be in the Answer Box when you have nice lists in your formatting. Consider writing a numbered list for step-by-step instructions or a table of contents for a long article.
- Optimize your site’s meta description: A strong meta description can determine whether or not users will visit your site. The meta description is a short explanation of what topics your site covers. It can be found in the <head> section of the HTML to your site. You can optimize your website’s meta description by making sure it includes your target keywords. You should take care to explain the question that your page answers, as this can help you appear as a featured snippet. Meta description optimization will help you gain a higher CTR from organic results users see on Google.
- Utilize Google Analytics to constantly improve: One of the last steps in optimizing your content for Google Answer Box is to monitor your efforts and traffic volume. This will help you understand which new content is relevant and interesting to users. A great tool to track your web page’s view count and average time spent on the page is Google Analytics. You can continue to improve your chances of ranking “position zero” by knowing users’ behavior after clicking on your content.
All of these techniques and strategies are vital in not only gaining more traffic to your site but also in improving the likelihood of your content appearing in the Google Answer Box.
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Who Answers Google Questions?
So, who answers Google questions? You do!
Content creators and web designers are the main information sources to answering Google users’ search queries. Public databases online, as well as government websites and pages, are also key information sources for Google questions.
Google can answer a lot, but not everything. That is because content creators like you are the ones giving Google their answer database. This means that the Google Answer Box algorithm isn’t perfect. However, it has up to a 97.4% accuracy rate when it comes to their answers. Unfortunately, some Answer Boxes may have incorrect or misleading information. This is usually due to a poor ranking choice made by Google of sites. Rarely, an untrustworthy website’s content may appear as a featured snippet. The good news is, users can usually recognize this right away either from the strange answer or description and the unfamiliar URL link.
A feedback option is always available for users to click on at the bottom of an Answer Box. Here, a user can share their thoughts about the information given. They can check off various options, including “This is helpful” or “This is misleading or inaccurate.” This helps Google constantly improve and change its Google Answer Box results while offering a better experience for users.
If a question is specific enough, Google will almost always give users a correct, relevant answer. Again, users should be aware that it is just content creators who are behind the Google Answer Box.
- What is Google’s Rich Answer Box? This is the same concept as Google’s Answer Box or featured snippets. It is Google’s way of providing a quick, direct answer to a user’s search query. Google does this by extracting a website page’s content and creating the perfect snippet for you. The rich answer box will also give a clickable URL link to the site providing the information. A rich answer generally is short and easy to read or view. It may be a short snippet of a YouTube video or a concise web definition or description of something.
- Does a Google Answer Box API Exist? API stands for application programming interface. It is an interface that shows the interactions made between two or more different applications or websites. Regarding the Google Answer Box, an API could tell you the information retrieved from clicks on your Answer Box. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t have an instant API available like other search engines such as DuckDuckGo. However, there are some third parties out there offering API that allow you to track the rankings of your keywords. This can help you work your way up to ranking zero and is a great way to monitor your Google Answer Box strategy.
- Why are Google results so bad? Sometimes, Google search results aren’t the best. Google tends to give inaccurate or irrelevant answers from time to time to users’ questions. This may be due to Google’s algorithms of ranking. A website may have “authority” due to several factors, such as just being a large publishing site. Authority is what helps land a site in Google’s Answer Boxes. However, this doesn’t always mean that the website has great content. This is one of Google’s downfalls.
- How do I win the Google Answer Box? Do you want to bring in lots of organic traffic to your web page? Winning the Google Answer Box is your ticket to more traffic and a higher CTR than ever before. To land your content in the Answer Box, you need to make sure your content clearly and briefly answers a specific question relating to your niche. There are a few ways to optimize your content for Google’s Answer Box, including good SEO writing, short answers, repeated keyword phrases, organized lists and tables, and monitoring of your site’s statistics.
- How do I check my Google Answer Box rankings? The easiest way to check your site’s Google Answer Box rankings is to use Google’s Search Console tool. Once you log into the Search Console, you can view all your site’s past Google search data. You can filter out the data by entering the desired keywords in the Performance section. This allows you to focus on a specific article on your site. Here, you can view the Average CTR and Average Position relative to other content regarding the keywords. The higher the Average CTR and Average Position, the higher your chance of landing in Google’s featured snippets. It’s very rewarding to see yourself in Google’s rankings.
- How do I opt-out of Google Answer Box? Google Answer Box is a very useful feature for content creators to bring in more traffic to their website. Still, every site owner has the option to opt-out of being in Google’s Answer Box feature. To do this, you simply edit your page with the tag: <meta name=“googlebot” content=“nosnippet”>. This will remove any featured snippets already extracted from your page by Google.
- What are the most frequently asked questions on Google? Here are some questions that are often searched on Google, accompanied by their search volume:
“When are the nba playoffs?” – 5,000,000 searches
“What is my ip address?” – 4,090,000 searches
“Where’s my refund?” – 3,350,000 searches
“what is love?” – 1,830,000 searches
“How to draw?” – 1,500,000 searches
“Where am i?” – 1,220,000 searches
“How many weeks in a year?” – 823,000 searches
“What are the early signs of pregnancy?” – 673,000 searches
“Is mercury in retrograde?” – 550,000 searches
“Who called me?” – 450,000 searches