A recent study by Stone Temple Consulting showed that rich answers are now showing up in nearly 20 percent of all targeted query search results. If you’ve just asked, What are rich answers? then this post will answer all your questions about them, and give you some pointers on how to optimise your site to take advantage of this growing trend.
What is a rich answer?
Type a question into Google and the chances are that your first result will come in the form of a rich answer – the answer to your question in a box, often with additional information, meaning that you find what you need without having to click through to a website. Sometimes Google provides the information directly and at others they use information from third party websites. For example, if you ask how to make a particular recipe, Google will display part of a recipe with a link to the website that you can find it on. This type of result is called a featured snippet and the user will need to click through to the site to get the full information. Google also answers questions with basic snippets, which are small items of information shown within basic search results.
What are the implications of rich answers?
You want people to come to your site – but if Google are providing them with search results that make it unnecessary to click through to a site, how are you going to get traffic? Don’t panic – the sort of rich answers that don’t require a click through happen when people are asking for simple facts. Conversely, when they want something a little more complex, featured snippets come into play – and these do require a click through. So, if you can optimise your site to provide the type of information that appears in featured snippets, you’ll be able to generate additional traffic.
Optimising for featured snippets
SEO never stands still and making your site featured snippet-friendly is the new optimisation goal. Research has already shown that your site doesn’t need a high level of authority to get picked out for a featured snippet, so what can you do to make it more likely?
- Work out the most likely questions that could bring a user to your page.
- Find answers you can give that are not simply information contained in the public domain.
- Make sure to include a direct answer to that question prominently in your content.
- Optimise the pages like normal to give them the highest possible ranking.
- Share the pages on Google+ and use the URL Submit tool in Search Console to help Google find them quickly.
Google views sites that answer frequently asked search questions as valuable, because they provide a better user experience. These are the sites they’ll reward with featured snippets.
The most common and straightforward questions will be answered by Google directly. Your chances of successfully being included as a featured snippet at the coveted ‘position zero’ at the top of the page will be greatly improved if you can tap into more complex questions to which you can offer comprehensive answers.