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Google Answer Boxes are quick information boxes featured by Google in organic results that appear in about 15 percent of all search terms made in Google.
They generally appear above all results, the only things above them would be certain ads but their actual potion in SERPs (search engine results pages) is position “zero” as many SEOs called it.
These search snippets tend to drive a lot of traffic from other organic results to them which means getting featured into such boxes would be great for your website.
Generally, the search results are the same for both desktop and mobile searches, meaning you don’t need to optimize thing different to obtain Google Answer Boxes for mobile searches.
Google Answer Boxes come in three main structures:
The Lists type snippets about for a total of about 20 percent of all such snippets. Here is how they look inside a search query:
The Paragraph type snippets about for a total of about 65 percent of all such snippets. Here is how they look inside a search query:
The Table type snippets about for a total of about 15 percent of all such snippets. Here is how they look inside a search query:
What do you think about Google Answer Boxes?
Ever manage to trigger Google for an Answer Box?
Any tips for getting such a snippet in Google Search Result?
Actually, I just noticed these more recently and have started using the feature snippets a lot more for quick answers, rather than taking time to click through to the actual site.
One thing that I wonder about is whether or not site owners will get mad at Google for excerpting their info in such a way. After all, the purpose of the info is to attract people onto the page where they can read, interact, subscribe, click, buy or do other actions that benefit the site owner.
Pretty sure there's nothing a site owner could do about it, but basically Google is scraping another person's copyright content for it's own purpose - to provide useful information at a glance to the search engine user.
Of course, this is Google, so I'm sure there will be no real penalties and possibly it's no more harmless than using an RSS feed from a site to show results on your own site. But for sure, these feature snippets/answer boxes are defeating the main goal of most site owners which is to funnel people from Google search onto their pages.
Though speaking as a Google search user, I like these a lot!
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There are a couple of theories regarding this subject. In essence, if Google provides all the answer a user needs directly on search result pages, most websites will stop getting traffic and as you said, it defeats its main purpose.
Now, if you are featured on a response box, you may notice an increase in traffic since most users want a detailed answer and will actually click the box.
For example: "scraping content" - sure that provided answer will satisfy most people but the vast majority of users that really want to learn more on this subject will actually click the box and ignore another organic search result, making the owner of the website pretty happy.
The bottom line is: This is only the beginning, I think Google will continue to evolve on this route, keeping users for itself rather than being just an intermediary platform between user and website. Just have a look at mobile instant answers (voice), those are virtually killing websites as they expand and develop.
Very good point Bev, I was also wondering about this. I have often done a search and not needed to click on any website because the information I needed was given to me right away in the Google Answer box feature!
I would want someone to click onto my website for the information though. I wonder what percentage of people still click through to the website and how many don't? Like how much traffic is someone losing when they land up in the Google Answer Box?
Maybe a lot of people still click through?
They actually gain traffic when the land up in a Google Answer Box. Let's say you are on 5th postilion on the first page but you also land an answer box. It is only logical that your actual traffic will increase. The problem for your other competitor it will be that they will drastically lose traffic after you land the snippet.
Another point here, and possibly you mentioned this already is the prestige factor of being chosen to be featured in an Answer box/feature snippet. Whenever I see a site featured in this way, it makes me think they must be very authoritative and even though I might not click through (if I get my answer from the snippet), I always have a higher opinion of that site. And, I wonder if Google is playing favorites here with the sites they choose or literally choosing the site that offers the best info. Obviously, Google thinks highly enough of that site to give it an authority status as in first in search. What more could a site owner want from Google?
I've been seeing this appear in my search results for a while now and in most times, I've found it very useful. Sometimes I'll click on the site it's showing a snippet of to find further information. Sometimes the information is truncated so you have to. So from that perspective, it's probably good for the website that Google is showing that snippet of information from. For those I (or other people) do visit. But I can also see how once people have been given the information they was searching for, there would be no need for them to visit the actual site.
So in effect, this is like a double edged sword. On one hand it is good that Google is showing these for the searchers because they've always been about providing search results to searchers as fast as possible. What with introducing auto suggest a while back and then this now. Although it's been running for a while now already. But on the other hand, if people aren't visiting the same number of sites anymore to find out more information about what it is they're searching for, then that is obviously going to have an adverse effect on that site too.
It begs the question though. Is there something you can do to increase the chances of Google using your site as a snippet in search results? Or is there a way to decrease it too so that it doesn't? Because I'd imagine that in time this will have an effect on websites and those sites that are loosing traffic because of it will want to know how and those that aren't being used will want to know how too.