Optimize for Google Answer Boxes

so what we’re gonna learn today is about

the answer box so raise your hand if you

know what the answer box is or position

zero is okay quite a few you guys what

about the folks that don’t know what

that means at all so if you’ve never

heard of it raise your hand okay one two

people willing to admit it what about

those of you that are kind of iffy on it

you’ve heard of it but you’re not really

sure what it means or how to use it okay

few more so by the end of this session

everyone should be able to raise their

hand and say I know what the answer box

is you’ll also be able to say why it’s

important you’ll be able to say I know

how to get there I know how to make sure

that I’m optimized for it and you’ll be

able to say I know how to measure for it

so those are kind of the goals that

we’ve set for the presentation today so

what is the answer box that’s our first

question the answer box is called a lot

of different names so I want to clear

some things up for you guys I’m gonna

use these terms interchangeably as we go

through this session so if I say the

word answer box position 0 featured

snippet instant answer I’m talking about

the same thing I mean if anybody else

talks about those they’re talking about

the same thing and that thing that we’re

talking about is this right here so this

is a search result for why can’t my kids

sleep and you’ll see that on this slide

there’s this interesting little box up

at the top that’s the that’s the instant

answer or position 0 and you’ll notice

also they’d styled a little bit

differently from other results on the

page the font is larger it’s kind of

highlighted with this shadow around it

and the font is actually or the

description is actually above the blue

link so those are some things that are

different about it one other thing I

want to mention because it’s going to be

important later is that children’s

health that’s the company I work for is

ranking both for the featured snippet

and for the regular organic result

that’s at the bottom so just keep that

in mind as we’re going through so why is

this important there’s a few reasons why

it’s important the first one is location

location location right we’ve all heard

this phrase talked about talking about

real estate

from Lord Herald Samuel and it’s

important in the real estate on a search

engine results page to to be in the

right position if you don’t believe me

just ask the people who are showing up

in position two or the people who are

showing up in position nine that might

as well be on page two

those folks know that if you’re in the

right location you’re going to get the

most traffic so we want to make sure

that we’re doing that and to prove that

search engine marketing our search

engine land it did a study about

featured snippets so when there’s no

featured snippet the first result on the

page gets about twenty six percent of

the traffic twenty six percent of the

clicks for a search now when you add in

a featured snippet you’ll see that eight

percent or eight point six percent of

the traffic goes to the featured snippet

itself and nineteen point six percent of

the traffic goes to your first result so

how many of you guys out here are math

people math folks okay like one yeah

content folks and math folks not usually

mix in the same company right so that

means that there’s two point two extra

percentage points that are going to

these first first features on the search

engine results page so if you think back

to filter elf on that why can’t my kids

sleep that means that we’re getting two

point two extra percentage points

because we rank in both of those places

and again if you’re not a math nerd

that’s an eight point five percent

growth how many of you guys would like

to grow traffic on one of your pieces of

content by eight point five percent yeah

me too everybody likes that so one of

the other reasons it’s really important

is that Gartner and a bunch of other

people in research are starting to

predict that more and more traffic is

going to be done on devices that do not

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have screens gartner predicts that

that’s that it’s going to be thirty

percent of the web there are some

statistics that say up to fifty percent

will be voiced

which is not not physical searches on

your mobile or your desktop and so what

does that mean well if you live in the

second result or the third result is it

going to get read out when you do a

search on voice does Alexa or Google

home read out multiple results no they

only tell you one and that one is who

lives in the featured snippet or the

instant answer so you want to make sure

you live there as more and more searches

start happening on these voice devices

so I know what you’re saying like okay

Courtney I know I know this is important

to you if you’ve dated that to me I

already knew it was important that’s why

I’m here right so how can I actually

show up there the first step is keyword

research and you guys have have all done

this before

but I want you to throw away everything

you’ve ever learned about keyword

research I want you to forget about

keyword planner I want you to forget

about SEM rush sorry SEM rush guys we’re

gonna we’re gonna remember them later

but first I want you to forget about

them because they’re holding you back

you’ve been so reliant on these tools

that you’ve forgotten about the other

tools that are sitting right in front of

you and when I say tools I really mean

assets people that hold lots of

information about what is important

content for your company that you’ve

forgotten about so who are these people

number one they are clients and

customers in healthcare which is the

sector I work and sometimes it’s hard to

get access to these people so they’re

not while while they’re very helpful

sometimes they’re not always accessible

if they’re not accessible to you your

second your second your second group

should be your sales team your frontline

staff whoever is working with your

customers on a day to day basis some of

these people are the most undervalued

people in your organization they’re the

people that work in your call center

they’re the people that answer your

phones in the front desk they have

access and information about your

customers that folks that are sitting

over in a marketing office divorced from


your customers are they don’t know this

information so my wife works at jcpenney

the marketing company the marketing

portion of the company doesn’t know what

the person at the checkout knows so we

need to get access to these people

that’s that step one and we need to ask

these people what questions are our

customers and clients asking us every

single day and you need to say what

language are they using when they’re

asking these questions right because in

the marketing world we get really used

to our products and services we use a

lot of jargon right especially in really

technical fields like SEO so I I use

jargon all the time when I’m talking

internally with folks and they go whoa

whoa whoa I don’t know what you’re

talking about so I have to step back and

explain it well you’re gonna have to do

that with your content too if you’re

using words and jargon that your

customers are not typing in to search

your content is not going to show up so

I want you to take all these notes and I

want you to set them aside for a minute

you’re gonna sit you’re gonna come back

to them later so I want to show you

something that happens on Google when I

start taking some of these questions and

plugging them into Google so I’m typing

in a search here does my child have ADHD

so I’m scrolling down to these people

also ask questions and I’m starting to

open them up and look what’s happening

every time I click on one of these

results more questions show up how do

you think Google’s getting these

questions they’re doing something

similar to what I just told you to do I

told you to go to your customers and ask

them questions well they they’re

collecting all of the questions that

your customers are asking Google and

they’re putting them in front of the

customer to say these are some other

questions you might ask well it’s great

for the customer it’s great for the

Google user but it’s also great for the

marketer we need to also write down

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these questions so take the questions

that you found from your sales team or

from a frontline staff or from your call

from your call center write them down

start inserting them into Google and

collect all of those people also ask

questions next step you’re going to do

some competitor research so who are your

competitors a lot of people when I go to

them and I say you need to do

competitive research for search they say

oh great I’ve got a list of my

competitors I’ll send them over to you

and they send me a list of the people

that work in the same sector that they

work in so for children’s health that

might be Texas children’s or it might be

cook children’s which is in Fort Worth

but the problem is that on search the

competitors that you have in the real

world aren’t necessarily the competitors

that you have in search so whoever your

competitor is is the person who is

ranking for the featured snippet that

you want to rank for for us a lot of

times that’s Wikipedia

sometimes it’s WebMD sometimes it is

livewell and these other content

producers that’s our competitor in this

case so what we’re gonna do is start

typing in these these searches and

writing down the folks that are showing

up for them when we want to be showing

up and we’re gonna start looking for

patterns we’re gonna say okay what’s the

format it’s Google displaying this in a

bulleted list are they displaying it as

a paragraph are they putting it in a


you’re gonna start making conscious

notes about those patterns that you see

what words and phrases are they using so

again the words and phrases that your

customers are using are you seeing those

same patterns and the words of phrases

that are being used on these sites that

are ranking for the featured sympathy

you want to rank for what’s the length

of the answers they really long they

really short in one sentence you’re

gonna write all this stuff down you’re

gonna put it next to the pile of

questions that you have before so I like

this example because it illustrates that

just because you see a theme for one

particular search it doesn’t mean that

it will be the same for a similar search

so this is a search for acetaminophen

doses for children and you see that

Google has chosen to present this in a

table and that’s what they’re liking for

it you can do the same search but for

adderall and they’re putting

in a paragraph so they’re having a

different preference you know this could

mean that there’s really no other good

answer for adderall doses for children

in which case they’re just sort of using

the best thing they have you’ll discover

that in your in your research because

one of the other things you’re gonna be

writing down is how are my competitors

failing what are the things that they’re

doing poorly that I can start taking

advantage of third thing content

ideation so you’ve got this pile of

questions you’ve got this pile of

competitive research what do you do with

it the first step is you’re going to be

starting to build themes so all of the

content ideas you know let’s say that

we’re writing about why can’t my kids

sleep so you might start writing you

might start seeing a bunch of questions

about home remedies for insomnia so

anything that has to do with the home

remedy you’re going to start pulling it

together okay and then you might see

themes around night terrors okay

questions about nights here’s lots of

kids be at night there so go start

grouping those things together and you

say okay great what assets can I start

to think of for these different topics

this is what you’re doing regularly but

how many of you guys skip all of this

consumer research and you go straight to

brainstorming right most content groups

don’t do any of this research they start

brainstorming internally about the

things that they want to write about so

this is a constant struggle at

children’s right we go into our content

brainstorming meetings and folks say

well this is what the doctors want to

write about and that’s great we want to

write about those things but we also

want to make sure it’s answering the the

questions that our consumers have step

four content planning so now you’ve got

these different themes they’re groups

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together and you’ve got to start

figuring out okay is this a series is

this a podcast is this a single blog

post how is this gonna fit into your

calendar and that’s gonna matter a lot

based on the themes that you guys see

right so are the folks that are showing

up in these result

answering all the questions in one blog

post or they going really in-depth in

this question in really long-form

content that’s broken up over a series

so you’re gonna go back to those

patterns and you’re gonna see okay what

were people doing here I’m gonna mimic

that then you’re gonna do your content

development and optimization so the best

thing that you can do this is the number

one thing if you don’t write anything

else down from this entire presentation

if you forget about all of it this is

the most important thing the questions

that you are answering and your content

need to be structured as h2s raise your

hand if you know what an h2 is okay

almost everybody there’s a few of you

that are shaking your heads right so an

h2 is just HTML markup to tell it it’s a

heading so your your h1 is your title

your h2 is a subtitle these questions

need to be structured as h2 or h3

the reason is Google is not a human they

can’t see that you’ve made the font size

bigger they can’t guess that you’re

answering that question there they have

to have some sort of clue and the h2 is

that clue so they’re going to be looking

for that number one the question in the

h2 or the question as a heading number

two and this is also important you need

to take the content and you remember

from your research how was it structured

how was my competitor structuring it and

you need to immediately after the h2 put

your answer to the question in the using

the the research that you had before so

if it if Google likes a paragraph put in

a paragraph Google likes the table put

it in a table and then you’re gonna ask

yourself okay what was my competitor

doing poorly

were there misspellings did they miss

out on going into an explanation about

an acronym that they use or they could

have explained that acronym fuller what

what are they doing poorly and sometimes

the questions that your that your

customers are asking your sales team

will help to to inform these decisions

what content is missing

from these questions okay oh I had the I

had a whole slide for that step six is

technical optimization so how many of

you guys have heard of structured data

or schema.org

okay maybe like twenty percent of you

guys so not very many okay

if you’re not very technical a lot of

this may go over your head but you need

to understand the value of it so you can

go back to the folks on your team that

are technical and explain to them what

you need and why you need it so

structured data is basically markup or

HTML that goes around your content to

give Google clues about what that

content is so there is structured data

for everything from reviews to

frequently asked questions to articles

you’re going to want to make sure that

you’ve put structured data around your

content number two you’re going to want

to make sure that your content is

crawlable you know you’re going to want

to go to your eight-year SEO your

technical SEO resources and say okay

have I done everything I possibly can to

make sure that the sitemap for the

health and wellness library that we have

is is indexing all of our pages that

everything’s there that it’s marked up

correctly you’re going to want to make

sure for example when I came on board at

Children’s Health the title tag for each

of our articles the one that we had

written inside of our content management

system was not what was showing up in

the actual page so Google was indexing

the wrong word so we had spent all this

money in time and energy optimizing

title tags and they weren’t showing up

your you need to be prepared to do some

spot checking on these things so as

you’re publishing articles go and check

and make sure that the right things are

showing up


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