How to Optimize for Google Quick Answers

In September 2014 Google introduced a new method of presenting content relevant to “how to…” or “what is…” queries, called “Quick Answers.” With this feature, Google takes snippets of content from specific webpages and features it in the “Quick Answers” box just above the first organic result in the search engine results page (SERP), and just below the paid listings. In addition to the content, Quick Answers also provides a link to the source page.

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In some instances, Google also adds an image from the page, in the top right corner of the Quick Answers box. We noticed images appear when logged into a Google account (a history of visiting a site triggering it), but sometimes even without a history, probably as a part of Google testing.

Pages that Google selects for Quick Answers on our site are high authority pages with quality, well-structured content that is theme-relevant and optimized for a great user experience. This content also answers specific questions that closely match the query.

Below is a sample page that is featured in Quick Answers. This page was created to answer specific questions that users might have about a particular feature, and has variety of quality content relevant to the theme of the query.

The page was optimized for a great user experience: with a well-structured “how to” guide (marked in red), a video tutorial, a detailed explanation of the feature and its applications, links to related features, PDFs, and other resources including help and support outlets.

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From the technical SEO standpoint, we need to ensure that a page is a part of site structure, is referenced from other pages with theme-relevant linking, and is included in XML sitemaps for better crawling (please use HrefLang XML Sitemap if pages are present in multiple Geos).

Measuring the impact of “Quick Answers”

Usually a page that is ranked #1 in the organic results would also be featured in Quick Answers. However, we also observe instances when our pages are in the Quick Answer box, even when these pages are not top-ranking pages in Google, and ranking on positions two to four. In such cases, our pages are preferred for Quick Answers listings when they compete with authority pages that don’t have theme-relevant content and are not well structured.

When Google first introduced Quick Answers and we started to see our pages appearing there, we tried to measure the impact in terms traffic and CTR from the SERPs using Adobe web analytics tools and webmaster tools. Not surprisingly, we saw a solid increase in traffic.

What we needed to add is a more formal (and easier) tracking method sthat would allow us to understand how many of our keywords in the “how-to” theme are ranking in Google Quick Answers. BrightEdge Content Performance Platform is now enabling us to do just that.

“Quick Answers” ranking report is now a part of the “Keyword” report, where we can measure aggregate rankings of a particular keyword group.

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The same report also provides details for each keyword in the group.

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How to Optimize for and Rank in Google Quick Answers:

  1. Select a topic that is interesting for your users
  2. Create quality content relevant to the theme
  3. Structure the page with the user experience in mind
  4. Provide useful information that can include videos, PDFs, details, and links to other relevant topics
  5. Yes – and don’t forget to provide a “How-to” list
  6. Measure the impact