Did you notice that recently Google added an answer box above the featured ads in your search results? It attempts to answer your question immediately without you having to click to a site. In this article, I will explain how your content can also be featured in a Google answer box, positioning you as the category expert in that search result. Let’s delve into what an answer box is.

What is a Google answer box?

A Google answer box is a featured snippet of text that briefly answers the question you typed in the search bar. It appears in an outlined box above regular organic searches, so it’s hard to miss. For years Google has strived to provide the perfect answer to every search, and answer boxes may be the solution.

As an example, if you type “roast beef recipe” into the Google search bar, you get a list of steps you need to follow to prepare the dish. Notice how the list appears before the link, which is opposite to the way we are used to seeing search results.

Featured snippets often appear as a paragraph or a bulleted list, accompanied by a small picture. They provide information in a concise format, reducing the need to click. I got all I needed to prepare roast beef from the answer box I mentioned above. But Google didn’t write the answer box, it came from highly relevant web content that was well thought out and structured in an easy to understand way. Google put two and two together and found the best post that provides the best answer to the question I posed it. Your content can appear in Google answer boxes too!

How do featured snippets appear in a Google answer box?

According to Google, featured snippets come from web search listings. Their automated systems look at the web listings and determine if it would be useful to highlight one of them. They are especially likely to appear for searches that are phrased in the form of a question. Featured snippets are a special feature of Google Search that receive unique formatting, positioning and are often spoken aloud by the Google Assistant.

How to write your content for Google answer boxes

There is no sure fire way to get listed as a featured snippet, but I’ve listed the things you need to keep in mind when writing for Google answer boxes:

  • Know which keywords to write for
  • Look at the ‘People also ask’ boxes for the way people ask questions you can provide answers for
  • Write your headings in question form and be sure to include these keywords in your heading as well as in your answer
  • Keep it brief, at a minimum of 50 words
  • Make the article substantial, yet easy for Google to digest.
  • Add structured data like sub-headings and bulleted lists where possible (although you don’t always need it)
  • Don’t spell out the answer, let the user click to your article for details
  • And keep the style natural. Write for people, not Google bots

Are you ready to get started?

Did you notice I followed my own advice writing this blog post?

  • My main heading is in a question and I was aiming at “answer box” and “featured content” as my main keywords. These key words are also peppered throughout the text and my content provides helpful information, positioning me as an expert in the field.
  • I don’t tout my services – visitors to my site know they can find that info on my home page.
  • I included a relevant picture (a how-to video would have been even better) and I added links to other reputable sites in the text.
  • My article has several sub-headings and I used bullet points where possible.

I found writing in this format to be quite fun and I look forward to the possibility of seeing one of my bulleted lists in a Google answer box. I plan on writing blogs like this in the future, and I want to go back and reformat old posts like this too. I will edit my page descriptions as bulleted lists and ensure my page headings are in questions format. Yes, you can do it too, but if you need any help, please feel free to reach out to me.