We’ve all seen those answer boxes in Google search results. Also referred to as featured snippets, or sometimes “position zero,” they shorten the searcher’s journey by grabbing content from web pages and displaying it directly on the search results page.
These answer boxes are most likely to show up when a search is in the form of a question. Many users enjoy the convenience of this feature, but not all businesses feel the same way.
Are Google Answer Boxes Good or Bad for Websites?
When Google launched these featured snippets years ago, some website owners were understandably annoyed. They had taken the time and energy to create good content to bring an audience to their website. Yet, Google was grabbing their content so that visitors could view it directly within search results. Many business owners and marketers felt this eliminated the need for users to click through to their website and that Google was stealing their traffic.
Today, however, we see many positive benefits of being featured in Google answer boxes as they can offer brands more credibility and visibility in search. When visitors find useful information in these featured snippets, they often click through to the website for a more in-depth answer.
We’ve seen ranking in these answer boxes increase quality traffic to many websites. Thus, gaining visibility in Google’s featured snippets is a common tactic we use for our clients.
Gaining Visibility in Google’s Featured Snippets
How does Google decide which webpages to feature in its answer boxes? Unfortunately, just like traditional search rankings, there’s no guaranteed way to force Google to feature your site. However, you can take steps to try to gain a position in one of these featured snippets. Here are five steps you’ll need to take to gain placement in a Google answer box:
Step 1: Identify a Current Answer Box and Aim for it
It’s incredibly challenging to break into a new featured snippet that doesn’t exist. Imagine, for instance, you run a luggage and travel business and you’re creating a blog article on how to repair a broken suitcase. The query “How do you fix a broken suitcase” currently doesn’t feature an answer box. As this is a very broad question, it would be tough to make a page fantastic enough that Google would create a new featured snippet.
The query, “How do you fix a broken zipper on a suitcase,” however, is featured in an answer box. It’s much easier to try taking over this query.
Step 2: Give a Concise Answer and Format it Properly
Next, examine the current page that’s featured in the answer box you’re targeting and ensure your page has a higher quality, more comprehensive answer.
Write a clear H1 or H2 heading that states the question or addresses the question. This heading should be 70 characters or less (otherwise, it will be cut off by Google in search results). Directly under this heading, write a clear, concise answer that’s about 50 words or less.
Ensure this answer is formatted properly. If the answer box you’re targeting is giving a paragraph as an answer, your page should feature a paragraph. If it’s providing bullet points, your answer should include bullet points, and if it’s a video, your answer should be in the form of a YouTube video.
Step 3: Ensure Your Page is Full of Quality Content
Don’t just create a page with a question and a one-sentence answer. Expand upon this answer.
The concise, initial answer is what Google is looking for, but it also judges the entire page. If visitors click through to the page itself, Google wants them to have a great experience. Don’t hesitate to continue diving in to the subject with numerous paragraphs of quality copy as well as helpful, original images.
Step 4: Include Schema Markup on Your Page
Schema is code that can be placed on your webpage to summarize the main points of the page and provide search engines with a clearer understanding of your topic. Google greatly appreciates schema code so the odds that you’ll break through into an answer box are increased if it’s present on your page.
There are many types of schema markup for different topics. If your page is about a medical device you should use medical schema. If it’s about food, you should use recipe schema. The most common types that we see helping pages break into answer boxes are FAQ, Q&A, or “How-to” schema markup.
Of course, schema code may sound intimidating if you’re not a developer, but your content management system may allow you to insert this markup yourself. You can see details at schema.org - or, you can reach out to a developer for help. Our team implements schema all the time, so if we can be of assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Step 5: Monitor and Optimize
Once you’ve completed these steps, keep an eye on the search result, and see what happens. Ideally, Google will recognize your quality work, and in a few days, your page will be a featured snippet.
Sometimes it can take months for Google to feature your page, however. Continue to keep an eye on the search results for the keywords you’re targeting. If it’s not happening after a month or so, try changing the wording of your answer slightly or adding more quality content to the page. Keep trying new things until your page begins to breakthrough.