SEO professionals the world over are a concerned lot! They are worried about the latest add-ons that search engines like Google and Bing are attaching with search results. Popularly known as Answer Box and Knowledge Graph, these are instant answers provided by the search engines to a particular query of the user. When that happens, no matter what your search result ranking (SERP) is, you do not derive any benefit from it. The user does not bother clicking on any of the links because they have already got the answer to their question!
For example, you search with ‘Weather New York now’. The search engine gives you a boxed answer. As a result, you do not click on any other web link that you see underneath that box. In other words, the SEO effort put in by the websites ranked even at the very top of the heap amounts to nothing. The same goes for a Knowledge Graph that appears on the right side of a search result. There is another variant that does the same kind of work: Extracted Instant Answers. This is probably the most irritating of the lot, according to SEO experts! In this case, the search engine extracts the answer to a search query, gives the answer to the user and may or may not provide a link to the source of the answer! It may also be that the answer was pulled out from your own website and you do not get any credit out of it!
With these challenges in mind, I looked around for some solutions. My purpose was to find a way in which SEO professionals like me can tide over these telling blows to the work that we put in to capture SERPs. We also end up spending money for certain keywords in PPC models, etc. On my mission, here is what I found out.
Tip 1: Keyword Opportunity Matters Most
The next time you want to buy keywords or put up ads against some keywords, do not simply look at the volume or the competition. Spare a look for the keyword opportunity. How much opportunity has that keyword got to get you the eyeballs that can justify your money or effort? Do you find Google or Bing providing Instant Answers or Knowledge Graphs for that particular keyword? If yes, how much space it is occupying above-the-fold? These answers can get you keywords that have the potential to be seen and clicked more than others. As obvious, Click-through Rate or CTR goes up significantly high when there are no Instant Answers or Knowledge Graphs in the search results.
Tip 2: Get Answers that They Cannot
The answers and knowledge banks provided by the search engines do not always satisfy the searcher. In fact, there are instances of Google deleting them for certain search queries because the searchers do not accept the answer that they provide and search again. You have to look for those chances to get your content be seen or read. If you can provide the right answer against a bunch of such queries, over time you will find that Google has abandoned the answer box and you can declare your presence with greater dominance.
Tip 3: Structuring Date Debate
This is a judgment call that you need to make. Should you structure your web data for Google to glean it from your website and use it in the Extracted Instant Answers? If you do not structure it for the use of search engines, will that hurt your cause? You have to take a call here depending on what you want. In this context, you have to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. If they are not doing it, you have more room to decide for yourself. Otherwise, you may lose out on SEO juice anyway if you do not structure your web data.
Tip 4: Question about Specifics
This is a SEO professional’s perennial query: should we focus on generic keywords and take a shot at the jackpot or play small with long-tailed keywords and build things up from scratch? If you want to avoid answer boxes and knowledge graphs, you can do well to target specific keywords with long tails. The chances of hitting answered blocks are lesser here. Of course, you have to customize your meta and title tags, etc for those specific keywords. I have noticed that in the long run, it can prove quite beneficial for SEO.
The Final Word
The SEO field throws up new hurdles every other day. As a professional, it is our job to navigate around them! The tools of Google and Bing mentioned above can be quite frustrating for the profession, especially when you are investing so much in getting to the SERP top. I hope these tips will work out for you. It did for me!
Do you have other suggestions to work around Answer Boxes and Knowledge Graphs?