An Update: How to Get Rich (Answers, That Is) with Google
December 3rd, 2015 by
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 3, 2015, and then updated on July 28, 2016, to provide you with the latest information.
2016 Rich Answers: Update
Over the years, we’ve continued to follow and analyze Google’s perpetually evolving search engine results page (or SERP) to stay on top of Google’s algorithm and to provide deeper insight into how people use search engines. Over the past 12 months, we’ve witnessed a major paradigm shift in Google’s SERP, resulting in Rich Answers for 40% of queries on average as of 2016!
Stone Temple Consulting Corporation’s 2016 study shows that Google provided Rich Answers (also known as Rich Snippets) for 22.6% of queries in 2014, 31.2% of queries in 2015, and 40% of queries in early 2016.
Mostly surprisingly of all, the study shows that 55% of the available Google snippets are either brand new or have a new URL source since 2015. This is evidence of the volatility of rich snippets and how new sources (cough, your website, cough) have an enormous opportunity to obtain one!
As Google’s SERP continues to evolve, it is now more important than ever to build a website in a way that better enables a domain to obtain these Rich Answers in the future. See the original blog post below for methods.
What Are Rich Answers?
“Rich Answers,” “Rich Snippets,” or “Google Knowledge Graphs” are results to search queries that have a definite or concrete answer. So definite, in fact, that Google will place them above all other searches with a linking source. Google will provide answers to questions such as “who won the Oscar for best actor in 2015,” “what is a rel=canonical,” “who is the president of Madagascar,” or even “what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.”
Rich Answers are featured snippets within the search results that allow the users to gain the information they are looking for faster and easier. These Rich Answers are provided in many ways, such as knowledge boxes, tables, images, maps, how-to graphics, and step-by-step instructions.
The Results Are In
Stone Temple Consulting released their findings earlier this year, stating that Google Rich Answer results have in fact grown quite significantly from approximately 22.6% in December of 2014 to 31.2% in July of 2015. This is truly a staggering amount considering the number of searches that are performed in the Google search engine every day. You might think that this would be detrimental to the health of most websites: if people are finding what they need in the SERP, they won’t continue onto a website. However, Stone Temple Consulting shows that in fact, the websites who were able to provide Rich Answers in the SERP actually get more website traffic than before. It creates a better user experience for all Google users by pushing up quality content, providing the searcher what they are looking for more quickly and creating a product that users want to come back to.
Strategy to Getting a Rich Answer:
Our simple strategy to getting a Rich Answer:
- Identify a simple question.
- Provide a direct answer.
- Offer value added info.
- Make it easy for users (and Google) to find.
Use Google Trends, Google Correlate (which is currently in Beta), Shopping Insights, and data from your Search Console to determine if a topic is trending. This will give you a better understanding of how much effort to put forth on providing high-quality content so that other searches (and Google) will find your website as the authority on that subject.
Utilizing Schema markup can help the search engines better understand the resources that you are providing on a given website. If Google can better understand your site, they can return more informative results for users and increase the likelihood of a Rich Answer over time.
The format of content can also be a large contributing factor to obtaining a Rich Answer in the SERP. Step by step instructions, bulleted lists, simple tables, and charts are all simple ways businesses can format content that will allow Google and its users to more easily find the answer they are looking for.
We are expecting these trends to continue as Google’s users find value in these types of results. In fact, we predict that Google will not only increase these types of results in the future, but that it will also begin to provide more interactive Rich Answers by utilizing high performing website content. Once Google can directly attribute performance on the SERP within Google Analytics, it will become much more mainstream to include Rich Answers optimization in the marketing strategy of businesses.
And one last thing: if you search “what is a Rich Answer,” there is no Rich Answer for that result yet.