Google’s Answer Box, also referred to as ‘Ranking Zero’, ‘Featured Snippet’, ‘Google Quick Answers’, or ‘Quick Answer Box’, is a relatively new functionality within Google SERPs. It’s a box of light grey colour with a white background that provides the answer to search queries directly on the SERP, without users having to click on any of the links in the results.
Types of Answer Box
There are different types of Answer Boxes, and not all queries come up with an Answer Box; having said this, the majority of those that do are those phrased as questions and which require informational answers. There are three main types of Answer Boxes:
- Paragraphs. These are the most common, and they consist of a one- or two-sentence paragraph which provides an encyclopaedic-like definition.
- Ordered or unordered lists. This is the case for answers structured in bullet points or steps; recipes are particularly common in this category.
- Tables. These are not very common, and as the name says, they display the answer in the form of a table. This is especially common for competition results.
Google’s Answer Box complements the Knowledge Graph, a knowledge base created by Google which holds information on subjects like people or places, without being strictly part of it.
Some Answer Boxes also have a supporting feature called ‘People also ask’, which was added in 2017. It appears below the Answer Box and it suggests topics that other users have shown an interest in. However, to view the answers, users have to click on the questions.
How to optimise for Google’s Answer Box
There are things you can do to increase your chances of featuring in the Answer Box; some of them are:
- Identify a query that already ranks in an Answer Box.
- Find a topic related to that query which could be interesting to your audience, and identify a gap within that topic that you could cover with quality material.
- Code the text for lists and tables, to make it easier to appear in the Answer Box.
- Make sure you rank at least in the first page of the SERP.
What are the benefits of ranking in the Answer Box?
Users tend to click on the Answer Box sources more than on the rest of the results, as the position ‘0’ is so prominent on the page. Answers featured in the Answer Box also appear especially reliable and trustworthy, again because of their position.
Featuring in the Google Answer Box may also trigger the wrong assumption that the results appearing there are endorsed by Google. This is not the case, but it could indeed result in more clicks on that source because of this reason. Having said this, Answer Box optimisation should be part of a wider content strategy, supporting any campaigns you may be running.
Out of any language, queries in English seem to appear with the highest number of Answer Boxes, however things are always changing. The Answer Box is a recent addition to Google, and it is likely to evolve and change in the future.
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