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Google Quick Answers Guide

Google Quick Answers are the boxes of information that sometimes appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) for certain queries, and are supposed to provide searchers with the information or answers they are looking for right on the SERP. Most of the time these answers are pulled from a particular website, which is displayed at the bottom of the Quick Answer Box.

If you use Google even semi-frequently, you have probably seen Quick Answers even if you didn’t know what they were or what they were called. The next section will go over a couple common examples of the different types of Quick Answers.

Types Of Google Quick Answers

While Quick Answers all serve the same basic function of providing answers to queries directly in the SERP, the content can appear in a variety of forms and show up for different types of queries.

Example 1: Lists
One of the most common types of Quick Answers is a how-to guide or list that pops up in response to a question. For example, the image below shows the current Quick Answer for the question ‘how to change a tire:’

1changeatireIf we visit the page where Google is pulling the Quick Answer from, we can see that they are just pulling the H3 tags from the page and presenting them in a list format.

2changeatire

This is the ideal scenario for the website because they are currently the number 5 organic result on the SERP, but because they rank for the Quick Answer they show higher than the websites that organically outrank them. Furthermore, the Quick Answer Google is serving provides a list of steps needed to change a tire, but it doesn’t show any of the details under each step and the Quick Answer doesn’t include every step. This means that searchers will likely have to visit the website itself to really know how to change a tire, which is exactly what Bridgestone Tires wants to accomplish with this article.

Example 2: Excerpts
Quick Answers pulled from websites don’t always come from lists though. Sometimes Google will crawl the text of a site and present the answer in paragraph form. Here’s an example of this type of Quick Answer:

4daysLike with the first example, telescope.org is benefitting from Quick Answers because despite not being the top organic result, their site is being displayed prominently above the true number 1 organic position. However, one problem for telescope.org is that most users won’t need to actually visit their site, as the answer has already been provided. That said, ranking for the Quick Answers gets them more traffic than they would otherwise, and it gets their website’s name out there too.

Example 3: Quick Answers To Non-Questions
Despite being called Quick Answers, sometimes a Quick Answer Box will show up without a question actually being asked. This is seen most often when searching for keywords like recipes, such as ‘apple pie recipe’:

5applepieIn this scenario, Google understands that when someone searches for an apple pie recipe they are most likely looking for directions on making one. Therefore, they’ve pulled a list together from bettycrocker.com that satisfies that implied intent.

Example 4: Facts From Google
For some search queries, Google will provide the answer to the question from an undisclosed source. An example of this is the question ‘what time is it?’

6whattimeisitWhile this is great for users, it’s not what a website would want to see as the Quick Answer for a result they want to rank for. This keyword could have plenty of search volume, but if the Google Quick Answer is going to immediately answer the question, ranking number 1 for this term is not much more useful than ranking number 100 for it.

Example 5: Tables
Another common type of Quick Answer is a table. Below is the Quick answer for the search term ‘best slow pitch softball gloves.’

7glovesThis is a great Quick Answer because the information is well organized and cleanly presented, and encourages the user to click-through to the site.

Example 6: Downloads
The last type of Quick Answers that we’ve seen is Quick Answer boxes that link to specific product pages or downloads. For example, if you search for ‘download Photoshop,’ the Quick Answer looks like this:

8photoshopI personally haven’t seen too many of these Quick Answers, and only ever for branded searches, but it’s possible Google could one day expand the prevalence and scope of these kinds of Quick Answers.

Why Are Google Quick Answers Important?

We’ve already begun to explain the importance of Google Quick Answers, but there are actually a lot of compelling reasons to try and create content that will show up as a Quick Answer. Let’s explore the main reasons now.

  1. You can rank for a Quick Answer without being the top organic result for the query. This effectively makes you the top position on the SERP, also known as ‘Position Zero’. This lets you leapfrog the competition, which could have more backlinks, have an older site, etc.
  2. Ranking for a Quick Answer means your website takes up more real estate on the SERP. Oftentimes, a Quick Answer can be the only thing that shows above the fold on a computer or mobile device, meaning your competitors aren’t even getting impressions from their high rankings.
  3. Quick Answers are becoming far more common. According to a study from Stone Temple Consulting, the percentage of search queries that yielded a Quick Answer in December of 2014 was 20%; by May of 2016, that number had risen to 30%.
It’s clear that ranking for Quick Answers can be enormously beneficial for your website. The question now is, how can I actually rank for Quick Answers?

How Do You Rank For Google Quick Answers?

Optimizing your content for Google Quick Answers isn’t as difficult as you think. Keep the following 9 things in mind when developing and structuring your content:

  1. Quick Answers are always pulled from a website on the first page of results for a query, so you need to be doing SEO right. Indeed, while the number 1 organic result isn’t always the Quick Answer, you almost certainly need to be in the top 5 to be eligible (Brightedge estimates 77% of Quick Answers are pulled from the top 5). Make sure you have a great SEO campaign in place. Optimizing metadata, having fast load times, being mobile-friendly, and all your typical SEO tasks are still important when it comes to ranking for Quick Answers.
  2. Quick Answers usually only show up if enough people are asking the same questions or typing the same query. Keyword volume matters here, so before you start creating a bunch of new pages on your site, make sure people actually are looking for those kinds of resources. Know who your target audience is and do keyword research to find the types of questions and topics they’re interested in.
  3. For example, the question ‘why is the sky blue’ is asked a lot, so Google serves a Quick Answer. 9keyword 10skyblue

    Whereas a question like ‘does the ocean have a bottom’ has very few searches and doesn’t have a Quick Answer Box appear. 11ocean 12oceanbottom

  4. The content on the page needs to be accessible to search engines. Ensure that your website can be easily crawled so that Google can display your content in Quick Answers. Relatedly...
  5. Structure your content so that people and search engines can easily understand it. If you are trying to rank for a question-based keyword, make sure the answer to that question is clearly and succinctly displayed on the page, preferably near the top of the page. Clarity and conciseness are your friends when it comes to Quick Answers.
  6. If we go back to our example about how long it takes the earth to revolve around the sun, we can see the page from where the Quick Answer is pulled from displays the answer right at the top of the page and clearly answers the question.

  7. Include questions on the page. One of the most effective strategies I’ve seen is using questions as page’s headings, and then answering the questions immediately afterward. Furthermore, if the keyword you are trying to rank for is a question, you’ll find success by having that question be the H1 tag of your page.
  8. If possible, use ‘How to’ phrases in the title and headings of your page. This helps people and search engines better understand what your page is trying to accomplish.
  9. Use lists if possible to organize your content. Like we saw with the tire example, a list can be a great way of structuring a page to rank for a Quick Answer. Use ordered lists (ol) in HTML when something needs to be done sequentially; otherwise, you can use unordered lists (ul).
  10. Supplement your page with multimedia like images and videos. Many Quick Answers also pull an image or video into the box, so try to include these on a page. The presence of these types of media shows Google that your page is a valuable resource for users, thus making it more likely you rank for the Quick Answer.
  11. Markup your page with schema/structured data. Structured data or schema markup is code that provides search engines with more information about the content of a page. The presence of schema can help your chances of showing up as a Quick Answer. For example, most recipe-related Quick Answers come from pages with Recipe schema in the code. If we go back to the apple pie example, we can see the page ranking for that term is indeed using Recipe schema.
14recipe

How Can I Check My Quick Answer Rankings?

You can use SEMrush to check the Featured Snippets your site ranks for. Just enter in your domain, click on the Organic Research section of the left-hand menu, and then click on Featured Snippets.

15dashboard

16thebredth

You can also use the Brightedge Datacube to see your Quick Answers. Type in your domain, go to Content Strategies, and then select Quick Answers. 17lastimage

Conclusion

That’s it! Hopefully you’ve learned more about what Quick Answers are, why they matter, and how you can start ranking for them. If you’re looking for professional assistance to help your business rank for Quick Answers or need help with any digital marketing need, feel free to contact us at any time.

written by: Justin McKinney

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