Normally, when you do a Google search, you’ll see a listing that presents you with a web page’s title, a short description, and the URL. But this regular list of search results isn’t the only listing you’re bound to see on Google’s results pages. In an effort to improve users’ experience on their site, Google has included other listings that provide information right there on the search results page. One of these listings is the Google Quick Answers.
What is Google Quick Answers?
It was in September 2014 when Google launched a new feature on their search results page. This feature presented content that’s relevant to “what is” or “how to” queries in a new way. In an effort to show exact answers to this type of queries, Google scours websites for bits of content that directly answers the question and then presents those snippets in a “Quick Answers” box right below paid listings and just above the first organic search result.
Other than the snippet, the box also contains a link to the web page from where the information was taken. There are also instances wherein Google includes an image taken from the same web page, located at the upper right corner of the Quick Answers box. Not all Quick Answers contain an image, which leads many webmasters to think that perhaps Google is still testing this particular feature of Quick Answers
Ever since Quick Answers was launched, it has gotten mixed reactions from webmasters and SEO professionals, considering that the new feature presents both challenges and opportunities. There are those who think twice about trying to get their content displayed in the box due to worries that if users already get the answers they are looking for right on the results page, they’d no longer have any reason to click through to the website. On the other hand, there are those who see a good opportunity in the fact that Quick Answers includes a link to the web page, thereby offering significant visibility.
How Content Lands on Quick Answers
If you’re still trying to decide whether to optimize your web pages for Quick Answers or not, perhaps it’ll help to learn more about what types of content usually gets featured in the box or how snippets usually get chosen for Quick Answers. In general, Google prioritizes high-authority web pages with well-structured, high-quality content for featuring in the Quick Answers box. It is also important for content to be theme-relevant and targeted towards providing excellent user experience as well as answering specific questions. The closer a piece of content is to answering a particular query, the higher its chances are of being featured in the Quick Answers box.
A web page doesn’t even have to gain #1 ranking in order to be featured in Quick Answers. There are instances wherein web pages ranked #2 to #4 are featured in Quick Answers because they’re the pages that provide the answers that most closely match the query. Lower-ranked web pages are also sometimes preferred for Quick Answers when higher-ranked pages aren’t well-structured and have no theme-relevant content. You may also want to note that Quick Answers has started featuring web pages that are well-positioned for Geo-targeting.
How to Get Featured on Quick Answers
When Google first introduced Quick Answers, those who found their pages appearing in the box were quick to measure the impact this new development had on the overall performance of their websites. Most, if not all of them, saw a solid increase in click-through rates and organic traffic. This means that although your misgivings about the Quick Answers feature possibly having a negative effect on your CTR are understandable, there may actually be no real reason for them. As evidenced by those who are already enjoying a Quick Answers feature, this new development may actually help rather than hurt your CTR. So, how do you go about optimizing your web pages for Google Quick Answers? Here are a few tips:
1. Get featured in Google Knowledge Graph
The Knowledge Graph powers certain components of Google’s search results pages, including the Quick Answers box. This is why one of the first steps you need to take if you hope to get featured in the box is to first get featured in the graph. Among the things you can do to get featured in the Knowledge Graph are the following:
- Use structured data on your website wherever possible
- Use nouns in your content as often as it is naturally possible to do so
- Link to relevant and high-authority websites
- Get your site and/or brand featured in Wikipedia
Speaking of Wikipedia, you’d do well to take note of how this site organizes data because this is an excellent example of how Google likes things done. Google has a preference for well-organized and easily accessible data such as those featured in Wikipedia. This is why getting featured on the site and artfully combining structured data with high-quality content and best SEO practices is a must for getting featured in the Knowledge Graph.
2. Select interesting topics
When you regularly post content that you know your target audience finds interesting, you increase your chances of becoming more relevant to your target market. And when you keep posting interesting content, you increase the chances of your content being a close match to search queries conducted by your target audience. As mentioned above, even if your web page doesn’t rank #1 on results pages, if it is deemed the most relevant to the query, it will likely end up in the Quick Answers box.
3. Create theme-relevant, high-quality content
You know how important it is to create buyer personas, right? Well, you can use your buyer personas to optimize your web pages for Quick Answers as well. What search queries are your buyer personas likely to conduct? What pieces of information are they likely to be looking for online? What keywords are they likely to use? If you have these data about your buyer personas, it will be a lot easier for you to create content relevant to the usual themes of their search queries.
As you very well know by now, theme-relevant content is the most likely to get featured on the Quick Answers box. Other than your buyer persona data, you may also get inspiration from focused group discussions and engagement analytics for your content mix.
4. Create “how to” lists wherever relevant
If you take the time to keep track of the times a Quick Answers box shows up on the SERPs, you’ll notice that whenever it is included in the listings, it’s usually to directly answer a specific question. And in most cases, “how to” is the question an online user asks when he/she conducts an online search. This is why it is always a good idea to post “how to” articles on your site from time to time, particularly if the article directly addresses an issue most of your followers and target audience are wondering about.
When you post “how to” content, don’t forget to include the phrase, “how to” not only in the title, but also in the content itself, along with a quick bulleted list of clear answers. You could elaborate on the answers further as the article progresses, but the bullet list is essential because it is what Google will show in the Quick Answers box. Other than “how to,” it may also be a good idea to create content that addresses “what is” questions or directly answers other types of questions in any way.
5. Implement best SEO practices
Just like any other optimization project, you will need to use the basic SEO best practices when you optimize your web pages for Google Quick Answers. Ensure basic on-page optimization and cross-linking. Make sure your content is always interesting, relevant, useful, and of excellent quality. Ensure that all technical SEO tactics are properly performed. When you work hard on SEO in general, it will be a lot easier for you to optimize for Quick Answers in particular.
The Latest on Google Quick Answers
If you think Google is done with refining Quick Answers, think again. Aside from the link to the web page from where the data in the box is taken and the image at the upper right corner of the box, Google is now incorporating calls-to-action in the box for certain search queries. It may be too early to tell what factors prompt these calls-to-action, but webmasters and SEO professionals will probably agree that this is a welcome development.
Quick Answers itself is still a relatively new feature in Google’s SERPs, which explains why it is still going through a series of refinements. Additionally, many webmasters and SEOs are still mastering the science and art of optimizing for the Knowledge Graph. So, rather than stressing yourself out trying to optimize your web pages for Quick Answers, it may be a good idea to work your way slowly towards optimization while keeping an eye out for further developments.