How to target quick answers with structured content

19 June 2017

How to target quick answers with structured content

Internet users are always focused on speed, and Google is well aware of this. Therefore, in addition to rewarding website owners who ensure that their websites quickly serve users with the content they require, Google is working hard to deliver “quick answers” to straightforward questions.

The search-engine giant already provides quick answers to around 10% of queries and it is working to increase this number. In particular, it is expanding the range of high-value keywords, for which they return quick answers as results. Quick answers appear right at the very top of search results, surrounded by a box for extra visibility, which in itself is a good enough reason to target them. A 2015 case study indicates that being featured as a quick answer can improve click-through rate by up to 8%.

Making the most of quick answers requires content which suits both computers and humans

Google never stops putting considerable effort into developing computer algorithms to work out what sort of content humans find valuable. This is why so many humans have come to rely on Google when it comes to finding what they want on the internet and why it is important to develop content that can be easily scanned by computers, as well as content which can be digested slowly by humans.

This has become a key principle of content creation and certainly applies if you are targeting quick answers. The basic idea, therefore, is to mix up the sort of long-form content, which is favoured by humans, with the sort of content that can be easily scanned by computers, such as bulleted lists and tables.

If you use images and infographics (which is generally highly recommended), then you should also be using Alt tags to ensure that Google can identify what they are about (and also to be in compliance with the Equality Act 2010 since people with disabilities may rely on aids such as Alt tags to assist with screen reader software).

HTML has never been so important

From an SEO perspective, HTML is the grammar and punctuation of the internet. Sticking to the agreed conventions regarding its usage makes it much easier for Google to work out what your content is actually about and hence to be able to decide whether or not it is relevant to any given query.

There are three key rules to follow:

1 – Only use headers for actual, unique headlines (including sub-headings). Never use them for any other aspects of web design such as navigational elements.

2 – Use headings in their logical order

There should be only one main heading per page and hence only one H1 per page. You can use as many sub-headings as you like as long as you follow a logical order and structure, e.g. the immediate sub-headings, should be H2, the next sub-headings H3 and so on (if necessary).

3 – Only use paragraphs

when you actually mean paragraphs. Never use them to format anything else, such as navigational elements, headers or footers.