How Google Rich Answers Affect Organic Search

By Tinuiti Team

Whether you’re searching for step-by-step instructions for tasks, the results of a football game, or the mascot of a university, you’ve probably noticed Google rich answers popping up in your Internet browser. They allow Google to deliver authoritative information quickly, which streamlines the search process. However, rich answers aren’t just useful for consumers — they can also have a major impact on your brand’s Internet presence.

What Are Google Rich Answers?

Google is constantly searching for ways to improve user experience of searching for information via the search engine. Rich answers are Google’s next-level solution that doesn’t require users to click on individual websites to search for the answers to their queries.

Featured snippets are a type of rich answers that typically include an extraction from a third party website that answers a user’s query and a link to the content source. Some appear as bulleted or numbered lists of instructions, such as in the example above, while others take the form of graphs, tables, paragraphs with titles, or other variations.

Another type of rich answer, “People also ask” boxes, provide suggestions for questions that other users have typed into Google and relate to the initial query. While a featured snippet is displayed as a block of text that appears at the top of the SERPs, “People also ask” boxes appear midstream in the SERPs. However, according to a STAT whitepaper, these two types of rich answers might actually be connected and often return overlapping or identical answers to search queries

Why Should Brands Care About Rich Answers?

Another type of rich answer result that uses images and brief text (image via Google screenshot).

If your website obtains a featured snippet, you could benefit in a number of ways. For one thing, the STAT whitepaper suggests that featured snippets often feature data from websites that organically rank below the first result in the SERPs. In other words, featured snippets open up opportunities to gain better visibility over competitors in top positions and drive more traffic to your site.

Search Engine Land columnist Ben Goodsell illustrated how appearing in Google rich answers boosted one company’s Internet sessions by more than 500 percent. CTRs (click-through-rates) jumped from two to eight percent even though the brand in question had several big-business competitors that kept it out of the top spots in the SERPs.

Even if your business doesn’t rank in the first or second position, you can generate more traffic if your content appears as a featured snippet. Since Google cites the domain from which it obtains the answer, users have the option of clicking on the page to explore more about the topic.

How Do Rich Answers Improve the Internet Experience?

Many of the answers provided in featured snippets and other forms of rich answers replace the data users would have had to get from long FAQ and Q&A pages. While many businesses still have those pages on their sites, Google recognizes that users — especially those on mobile devices — don’t have time to slog through dozens or hundreds of irrelevant queries to find the one they need.

This means that the thin, boilerplate content you might have used for an FAQ page probably won’t make it into Google’s rich answers. Google is looking for comprehensive, to-the-point information that accurately and fully answers a user’s query.

How Can You Create Content for Rich Answers?

If you want your own content to appear in rich answers, you have to think like users (and like Google). What information would a consumer want to see after searching for the topic you’ve chosen?

If you’re interested in boosting traffic and increasing brand visibility, Google rich answers offer an attractive opportunity. You can also read the case study: Helping TravelStore Become an Online Entity. It explores the ways in which Elite SEM used Google Knowledge Graph — which helps fuel Google rich answers — to boost TravelStore’s online footprint and search visibility.

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