Google recently increased the number of queries with a Google Answer Box. This location is also called position 0 in SEO and it is displayed for 30% of queries versus only 20% two years ago. This is a zone with a specific display format that offers users an answer or a definition of the term that has been sought.
The Answer Box greatly improves the user experience since the number of clicks needed to access the information is reduced. Google is no longer positioning itself as a search engine but as a response engine and it could be a problem for digital companies. For example: because of that access to the website is no longer necessary to get the information, Wikipedia suffered a loss of traffic. However, this feature can be a very good opportunity in terms of branding and organic traffic.
It is important to know that the result displayed in position 0 is not necessarily from the website displayed at the 1st position of the search engine results page (it can happen). Therefore, how to optimize a content to appear in the Answer Box?
How to optimize your site for the featured snippet ?
There is no official recommendation from Google about that topic…
… but a few analyses show that there are some characteristics shared by all websites and pages appearing in position 0. For example: the page is part of the 5 first SEO results on the query; it contains less than 2000 words and the site has a lot of backlinks & referrer (>1000).
1. Find Google Answer Box opportunities
There are two ways to identifying opportunities to appear in featured snippets:
The first one is to imagine questions people can ask about your activity and optimize your page for the answer. There are tools like answerthepublic to find questions that people are asking about a topic.
The different formulations that trigger the Answer Box are:
- what is…?
- what does… mean?
- definition of…
The second way is to find queries that already display a snippet featured in the search results but it will be more difficult to rank as Google has already decided that a content is reliable to be used in the Answer Box.
2. Optimize and structure the content to answer the question
It is important to write a content that clearly answers the question in approximately 250-350 characters which seems to be appropriate to that kind of display format.
- Google is searching for content that you can read as a response. If you want to place a site as a featured snippet on the query “what does -myword- mean?”, you should include at the top of the page a sentence beginning with “-myword- means…”.
- Use the search query in the title of the page: <title> What does -myword- mean? A definition of -myword-</ Title> for example. As in SEO in general, Google uses the title tag to know if the page will answer the question.
- Place the main keyword in your <H1> tag.
- Subtitles (<H2>) can be extracted and displayed in featured snippets. This is particularly the case when the request is about how to learn a process or for an answer that can be summarized in a list. If you are targeting this type of search, write your content with different <H2> subtitles <H2> that explicitly define each step.
- If you are targeting a “what is” question, write your answer in a </ p>.
3. Use semantic markup to appear as a reliable source
For example, you can use the rel = “author” tag in your code. Your content will be associated with your name and you may appear as a credible source if you are specialized and if you are writing often about the same subject. You can use Google search console to test your structured data.
As always, there are no secrets in SEO!
Everyone is fighting for the first place and the Google Answer Box still relatively new. This is an opportunity to place a website higher than the top – in the zero position! As usual with SEO, there is no good answer, you have to test and learn, and to write high quality contents that provide relevant answers.