Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thinking Inside The Box: What Is The Google Answer Box and What Does It Mean For Your Law Firm?

Originally published by Stacey E Burke Blog.

If you’ve used the Google Search Engine lately, you might have noticed a new feature, the Google Answer Box, which prominently displays a detailed result above all other organic search results and paid ads. The Google Answer Box marks a significant shift in the way Google displays search results, and law firms seeking a competitive edge can use the Google Answer Box to their advantage.

Say Hello To Knowledge Graph

Google’s sole goal is to provide the best search results possible for users. To that, Google has released a serious of updates to improve results, one of which is called Knowledge Graph. Knowledge Graph is unique in that its purpose is to determine what users are trying to find, rather than what they literally type into the search bar. Knowledge graph has been around for a few years, and it has helped Google understand semantic-search information and provides additional information in search results.

How Does The Google Answer Box Work?

Knowledge Graph powers the Google Answer Box, which has three display formats: paragraphs, lists, and tables. The Google Answer Box is designed to connect users with the information they are looking for faster than sorting through search results by prominently displaying what Google considers is the best answer.

For instance, if you search Google with the search query, “What is the Google Answer Box?” you will get a result that looks something like this:

Above the regular search results, is a snippet of text containing information about the Google Answer Box. The snippet includes a paragraph of text, the date of publication, a small picture, the title of the webpage the paragraph was taken from, and the URL. Google Answer Box will also display results in side of the box as numbered or bulleted lists or in tables.

How Does Google Decide What’s In The Box?

To understand the power of the Google Answer Box, you have to take a closer look at the listings. The result inside the Google Answer Box does not have to be ranked as the first organic search result, it just has to rank on the first page. This means that lower performing pages can now beat out competitors as the first result, which can drive organic traffic to your website.

How Do I Get Inside The Box?

At this point, you’re probably wondering how to get content from your website into the Google Answer Box. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as easy. Like most things Google does, the exact details of its algorithm that determines the content in the Google Answer Box is a secret. However, there are a few things you can do to help your chances.

  1. You have to be on the first page of search results. Before you can do anything about getting into the Google Answer Box, you need to appear on the first page of Google search results. Google will not put any content into the box that isn’t first page material.
  2. Identify the questions your audience is asking. People are increasingly using search queries that are questions, rather than phrases or words. It’s important to note that while some questions are explicit, others are implicit.
  3. Answer the questions your audience is asking. This might seem obvious, but the key here is to answer questions with the format and language use in the question. For instance, if you identify the implicit question, “Ford Explorer recall” the answer within your content should be: “The Ford Explorer recall effects some 2017 models…” not “Ford recalls the 2017 Explorer.”
  4. Make your answer accurate. This also sounds obvious, but is worth mentioning. It is helpful if your answers contain information from trusted sources and that all statistics and/or facts are up to date.

What Google Answer Box Means For Your Law Firm

If you have been working hard to get your website as the top organic search result, you might find Google Answer Box frustrating. You’ve put a huge amount of time and effort in optimizing your site for Google, and now you might not even appear first with the Google Answer Box. But Google Answer Box is a new opportunity for your law firm to better serve users. Google Answer Box was created to respond to the changing ways people were using search. If your audience is changing, you need to too.

For law firms still struggling with search engine optimization, Google Answer Box is the opportunity to surpass SEO-savvy competitors. The first organic search result isn’t always what Google chooses to be inside the answer box. Law firms that update their site to be more Google Answer Box friendly can see a huge increase in organic traffic from more detail results shown in the answer box.

Regardless of where your website is ranking in Google search results, the Google Answer Box is a great opportunity, and it’s not going to go away anytime soon, so you better get used to it.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

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