You've probably seen them at the top of search engine pages – those boxes that specifically answer data-oriented questions fast. If you want to ask Google, "What is inbound marketing?" you don't even have to look at site links, because that answer box up top will tell you.
Google pulls all kinds of information from multiple sites for these search engine answer boxes (which are becoming more common as time goes on). Since they get such good placement, it's a brands dream to have content pulled and shown in an Google answer box with a direct link to your website. The good news is that any site in the first SERP can be used for the answer box (some believe it's limited to the top 10 results, which is basically the same thing). However, you'll need to focus on answer-friendly content if you want to nab this spot.
"Scoring" an Answer Box
B2B companies have an edge here, because they tend to favor content that's more direct, concise, and clear-cut, which is what Google looks for when picking Google answer box content. Other things Google cares about are:
- Science or research-related, unbiased sources
- How many times people have looked for the answer in the past, and where they've gone to find it
- How many answers are on the web page as a whole – the more, the better
- Brands – if someone searches for a Microsoft-related question, the answer usually comes from Microsoft
- How often an article or page has been sourced and shared by people, especially by experts
Getting Into the Google Answer Box
Trade Content with the Experts: We've recommend many times that you try to find experts for guest blog content, and look for chances to be a guest blogger in turn. This is another excellent reason to get involved in your industry – it makes your content more likely to be picked for an answer box. If you have a lot of pieces on construction shared by the experts, it's a lot more likely Google will look to you when someone searches for a construction or supply question.
Get Inspired by the SERPs: Type in common questions and subjects that you hear a lot from your buyers. Check out the first 10 or so sites that come up. What are the articles like? What subjects are they talking about? You shouldn't try to copy what they do (Google doesn't like that), but you should definitely use them for inspiration when trying to build expert content of your own.
Focus on Keywords That Answer Questions: Not just in one post, or one page, but throughout your website! Use keywords that are designed to provide succinct answers to common questions within your industry. You don't need to include the words "answer" or "question" either – Google doesn't really care about this. Think about what answers are most commonly delivered to clients in your company, and start creating keywords from these subjects. Always remember, if someone is asking the question out loud, several other people are probably looking it up on Google.
Offer Clear Data in Inventive Formats: Google is very interested in how your data is presented. Use the clearest, most straightforward language that you can come up with when presenting facts. Don't throw in a lot of adjectives or prepositional phrases, just stick to the meat of the answer, because that's what Google is looking for. This works particularly well in tables and charts, which Google also appears to favor when collecting answers. So break up content into some handy charts and watch your visibility rise!
Watch Your Competition for Weak Spots: As you type common questions and topics into Google, pay close attention for results from any competitors. If a strong competitor already has a succinct answer on their site – even if it isn't in the answer box – it's going to be a lot harder to get into the box yourself. If no competitors have much information about a question, it's time to push hard and get your own data out there.