Have you ever Googled in search for an answer, and gotten the answer right away at the top of search results, without having to click through to a website? Then you have seen Google’s famous (or, depending where you rank in search results, infamous) Answer Box powered by the Knowledge Graph. For search users, it’s a blessing because it provides immediate answers to your questions without additional clicks through to a website.
To website owners, on the other hand, it can be a blessing or a curse. It can be a blessing in two scenarios: if your website is the one that provides the answer for the Answer Box and leads the searcher to click through for additional details, or if your website is the closest search result that provides either a more thorough answer or a next step.
On the flipside, it can be a curse if your website provides the same answer as the Answer Box or if your website is too far down the page so that searchers either get their answer from the Answer Box or the next relevant result instead.
In this post, I am going to dissect some popular Google Answer Box search results to help you learn how to optimize your site and, hopefully, get more clicks.
For the purposes of this experiment, we will be using the Chrome incognito window to prevent as much personalization as possible.
First, let’s look at the Google Answer Boxes you just can’t win, or ones where your website will likely never be able to supply the answer. Like today’s date and time. If someone searches for today’s date and time, Google will give them the answer them based on their current location.
While you can’t win in terms of being the source of information for the Google Answer Box information, you can win in terms of what the search user will see next. The key in this instance is the meta description the web page that comes up. What can your web page offer beyond just the date and the time?
Sometimes, Google Answer Boxes don’t exactly provide the answer that the searcher is looking for. For example, if someone searches for “when is game of thrones on”. Granted, this one is a tough one to answer since there are so many cable networks, time zones, etc. So considering, you would think no answer is the best answer. But instead, a searcher might get this.
Since Wikipedia is a trusted source, it naturally becomes the source of many of Google’s Answer Boxes. And if you were to click through to this Wikipedia article, you would get the dates of as many episodes of Game of Thrones that are scheduled to premiere. But not exact times.
So in this instance, TV Guide wins the day by ranking below the useless Google Answer Box by providing just what the searcher needs – a guide to when Game of Thrones will be on next on their cable network in their location and time zone.
Other times, Google provides just the answers a searcher is looking for. So well, in fact, that the searcher may not need any additional info. Like this search for the current MLB standings.
In this instance, if you want to get people to your website, you have a few options. Beneath the Google Answer Box, the searcher will see the latest news about the current MLB standings. This might be a good time to create articles similar to the ones you see above, along with predictions about the postseason like the MLB provides in their in-depth links below the news links.
Further down the search results, you’ll see more MLB standings from other leading publications.