How Bloggers Can Benefit From Google’s Rich Answers
By digital marketing expert Jim Stewart of StewART Media
We’ve always been told that the aim for our blog posts is to be number one. That achieving first position on page one of Google through organic traffic is the target of any blog or online business.
Well what if I was to tell you that you can now climb higher than number one? – because you can! And it makes a world of difference to your traffic.
I’m going to show you how utilising a particular feature of Google can help you to a prominent position on the first page of Google – making good use of Rich Answers.
What are rich answers?
If you’ve ever searched for a particular term, or have been seeking the answer to a particular question, you will have noticed that above the list of organic search results there is an information box.
This information box contains a short answer to your search query and is Google’s way of attempting to answer your search without requiring you to click through to a website. The official moniker for this box is ‘rich answers,’ but it is also referred to as ‘featured answers,’ or ‘featured snippets.’
The feature has been around for some time, but is now prominent for recipes, maps, some product searches, and quick answers.
Google splits the results for rich answers into three distinct categories:
1. Featured Snippets
Google extracts these answers from third party websites and displays them above the organic search results.
For example, If we were to type in a particular question:
You will see that Google has extracted the information from a third-party website, in this case bbcgoodfood.com. You will notice that the information is incomplete, encouraging readers to click through to the website for further information. That is great for bbcgoodfood.com!
2. Answers provided by Google
Also displayed at the top of the page, above the organic results, these are answers drawn from official data or public domain sites such as Wikipedia.
For example, if we were to ask the question: “How old is Malcolm Turnbull?” you would see this result:
You can see it is a clear answer to the question provided directly from Google. The information provided answers the question directly, but Google also provides additional information that it thinks the reader may be interested in, such as fellow politicians underneath and an information box to the right containing personal details for Malcolm Turnbull.
These enhance regular search results. The downside is that you need a basic knowledge of HTML to implement the mark-ups in your content using schema.org.
- Mark up Your Content Items – Google
- An Idiot’s Guide to Rich Snippets, Schema, and Microdata – Verve Search
What are the benefits of rich answers?
The beauty of rich answers is that you don’t have to rank number one in organic search results to be the featured answer. The aim is to explicitly or implicitly pose a question then answer it in your content.
I recommend establishing the question, query, or key phrase, in the blog title, then answer within the first couple of paragraphs before sprinkling variations on the keywords or search query throughout the copy.
The results can be amazing.
We recently achieved a rich answer for problogger.net. The site was already ranking No.1 organically, but there was a rich answer above us that we aimed to depose. Our normal No.1 position appeared for about 50 different search phrases, but when we finally achieved the rich answer position it covered over 150 phrases.
This means that Google will show the same rich answer far more often than it will show the same No.1 organic spot.
As an example, if you type into Google: “make money blogging,” you will see problogger.net has the rich answer result and the No.1 organic result. However, (at the time of publishing) when you type, “how do you make money blogging”, you will see ProBlogger has the rich or featured answer but organically the site ranks about No.6 or so.
How bloggers can benefit from rich answers
You can achieve the coveted ‘position zero’ on Google by analysing and understanding what users are looking for. You can do that with checking your own data and insights, surveying your readers, doing a keyword search, and keeping up with what others in your niche are doing.
It is also worth spending some time exploring what areas of your subject matter are lacking in relevant content and utilising this knowledge to hone your own content to meet the needs of the user.
Directly answering a user’s question can see you claim the rich answer spot and hopefully drive more users to your website; increasing site traffic, building your audience and brand awareness in the process.