Search, Engine and Optimisation are three words that probably don’t spark a whole lot of enthusiasm in many marketers, except maybe those in the IT and web design industries.
It has always been challenging for any business, big or small SEO budget, to get found in Google’s organic search, but this has recently changed. Alterations in the way Google displays search results have created opportunities for businesses to not only get to the top of the search engine results but to actually get above the traditional listings and into the coveted “position zero” at the top of the page.
This feature is known as Google’s Rich Answers and getting your site up there is not as difficult as you might think. Best of all, it can easily be switched on, so I thought I would share this lesser known marketing strategy with my fellow marketers as I believe it has a lot of potential for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
What are Rich Answers?
Rich Answers are a way that Google attempts to make it as easy as possible for its users to get the information they’re looking for by providing the answer to a question right on the search engine results page.
These answers can come in many forms from text based to images and graphics, maps, lists or just about anything else that the enigmatic Google algorithm deems appropriate.
Here is an example:
Rich answers appear at the very top of the search engine page, above the list of results. Getting your content featured in the Rich Answers section puts you in pole position, right above the number one Google spot.
Are Rich Answers a threat to click through rates?
Some marketers view Rich Answers as a problem in online marketing. This is mainly because users can now see the answer to their question without having to click through to your site. The suggestion is that if the Rich Answer is displayed in full from your site, you may miss out on a potential visitor.
Personally I don’t feel this is anything to worry about. In fact Rich Answers are a fantastic way to stand out from the crowd and prove your authority and expertise. For any given search, unless you show up on page one or two of the results your chances of getting a click through to your site are virtually non-existent anyway. Appearing at the top of the list in the Rich Answers will give you credibility and visibility where you would otherwise go completely unseen.
Interestingly, Google doesn’t just pick the sites with the fanciest SEO and greatest domain authorities to appear in their Rich Answers. This is good news for smaller businesses that might not otherwise be able to reach the number one Google spot.
How to get your content featured on Rich Answers
The first step to getting your content featured on Rich Answers is to determine the specific questions you want to answer. These will be questions your target audience use when they are searching for information relevant to your business.
One great way to find the questions people are asking is to use the autofill feature on your Google search bar. Just start typing in a question and look at how Google completes it. This will give you a clue to what people are searching for so you can word your questions and answers accordingly.
Once you have identified a number of questions you will need to create content around those questions. Remember that content doesn’t have to be written; it can be visual in the form of images or graphs if that is relevant.
After you have determined your questions there are four things you need to do:
- Use <h1> tags to mark up the questions you want to answer
- Use keywords in your content
- Ask the question and answer it succinctly in the body of your content
- Provide variations of the question throughout
Google’s Rich Answer box provides websites of all different shapes and sizes with a great place to feature their content and improve brand awareness. It’s free and if you can pull it off you can beat the big guns to the number one spot and potentially bring more traffic to your organisation’s site.