Diving Into Google Rich Answers: What Your Business Needs to Know

google-rich-answersInternet users come across Google rich answers in their search results on a daily basis, but many have no idea exactly what they are. Businesses should, however, because obtaining a rich answer for your website can dramatically increase traffic, and ultimately, leads and customers. Below, we go over what exactly a Google rich answer is and the steps you can take to obtain one for your website.

What are Google Rich Answers?

Google rich answers refer to search result pages that give users direct answers to their queries, as seen in this example of a search for “What is inbound marketing?”:

inbound marketing

Rich answers often (but don’t always) show up at the top of search result pages and serve to help users more quickly access the information they’re searching for. But these types of answers often make webmasters uneasy as it becomes even less likely that a searcher will click a third party website link if Google provides them the answer directly on the search results page.

There are a variety of rich answer types that show up in Google’s search results, including:

  • Featured snippets (results extracted by Google from third party websites, as shown in the above example)
  • Charts
  • Tables
  • Maps
  • Forms

However, a study by Stone Temple highlighting Google rich answer growth from February – July 2015 shows that while rich answer results featuring sliders, charts, tabs, images, tables, and forms have increased, results showing maps and lists with ellipses have declined.

Can your website be selected for rich answers?

The same study by Stone Temple noted that websites that obtain featured snippets see increased traffic, so how can you see that same success on yours?

Stone Temple shared the results of their own test to obtain featured snippets for their site, which saw some success. First, they created videos that answered specific search questions but included additional information and published them on their site. Along with the videos, they published video transcripts where a clear response to the main question was provided. They shared a link to the page via Google+ and submitted it in Google’s Search Console, and three days later, two of their pages showed a featured snippet—a 40% success rate.

They determined the following four steps that you can take on your own website to increase your chance of obtaining a featured snippet for your webpages:

  1. Identify a simple question
  2. Provide a direct answer
  3. Offer value added information
  4. Make it easy for users and Google to find it

It’s safe to assume that Google pulls its rich answers from sites based on their search authority, with Wikipedia being a leading example. But Stone Temple shows that in reality, over half of the sites referenced in Google’s rich answer results have a Moz Domain Authority of 60 or less—and some have even less than 20. This means having a low domain authority doesn’t necessarily mean that Google won’t use your site to generate a rich answer.

Though Google’s use of rich answers can be disheartening to webmasters looking for more referrals to their webpages, they seem to be here to stay. Design your content accordingly and start taking advantage of the branding and site traffic benefits for your business.

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