Google Answer Boxes: An in-depth approach to what we told Forbes.

This article is part of an on-going series on marketing. Swipeclock offers numerous tools (including marketing) to Swipeclock partners to help you grow your business! For more information, check out this page.

When Swipeclock first captured the Google Answer Box, it wasn’t because of an effort to capture the answer box. Instead, it was a side-effect of a series of blog articles aimed at informing our partners about employment laws.

Since that point, SwipeClock has since captured dozens of answer boxes. In some cases, we’ve captured the answer box when we are ranked as low as #8. In Forbes, last month, we wrote about how we consistently capture what is referred to as Rank 0.

Forbes loves it when we give them great information, but they like shorter articles and what we know is much to long for them. So we’ve written a little extra for our partners and clients. Here are a few more things you’ll want to check out if you wish to grab the Google Answer Box for your company.

Look for existing Google Answer Boxes.

Google is constantly adding more answer boxes to queries, but a lot of that’s based on how often a search term is looked up. It can be hard to predict when Google will create a new answer box. Instead, look for relevant terms and queries to your services or product. Create a spreadsheet of those queries. These are great topics for your content. Any query in which your web pages rank high on an existing query with an answer box is a great place to start.  Typically, you will need to rank on the first page to capture the answer box.

Use the query and various forms in your content.

Remember though, you aren’t writing for search engines, you are writing for people. For example, when we wrote our educational article on Secure Scheduling Laws, we wrote a paragraph meant to tie together the various terms and to create consistency for our readers. We wrote

“This leaves many employers asking the question; “What are advanced scheduling or predictive scheduling laws?”

Advanced Scheduling laws, also called predictive scheduling or nicknamed restrictive scheduling laws refer to ordinances and laws that mandate conditions and penalties on employers scheduling practices.”

You’ll notice that we included the question “what are advanced scheduling. . ?“ We also included an answer and several relevant terms.

As a result, Google truncated several paragraphs and features us in the answer box

You can answer the query not only in paragraph format, but also in your Alt Text, your image description, the title or headers of your webpage, or a section label.

Be accurate and give stronger answers

We’ve written about this before, but Google is leaning away from generic web pages. The amount of content that gets added each day is incredible. In 2012 approximately 144,000 pages were added each day. In 2016, it was approximately 200,000 pages a day. That means that it’s harder than ever to get search engines to pay attention to your new pages. But there is a way. Google shows a preference for longer, more in-depth articles.

Many news organizations, blogs, and other websites prefer to keep articles around 800-1000 words. However, for most topics, 1,000 words only touches on the surface of a question. At Swipeclock, our best-performing articles are 2,000 words or more. Some of our best-performing articles have over 5,000 words in them. We even have articles topping 13,000 words!

Obviously, we don’t expect viewers to read every word, but instead, we index and categorize the information found in the articles. We want it easy to read and navigate. Our readers can skip down to the section more relevant to them.

We prefer this method to writing 10 or 20 short articles. That’s because our readers can find what they want in one article and not have to “hope” they find the right article. We write for our readers. We ask ourselves what other questions related to the topic our partners want to know. Then, we take the time to research the answer if we don’t know it already. Sometimes that means a lot of extra time spent on articles. But, that’s okay!

If you are looking to steal the Google Answer Box, you must be more accurate, more informative, and more useful. Your article must be more easily consumed, and more helpful.

Use Visuals

This isn’t just good SEO, this is good for capturing the Google Answer Box. Visual content includes images, graphs, photos, tables, videos, or Gifs. They make content easier to consume. Remember the old adage “One picture is worth a thousand words”? That may be true, but that doesn’t mean you should replace your thousand words with just an image. Instead, you should highlight, demonstrate, or illustrate with an image.

Don’t forget to optimize your images with titles and alt text. This helps to tie your images to your content. Don’t be afraid of long titles. If your the Google Answer Box is for “What is the population of New York” Don’t be afraid to label your graph as “The population of New York from 1720 to 2018” or “The population of New York City by Neighborhood in 2018.”

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Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated on August 13, 2018

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