What are the steps involved in cooking a turkey? Do you need to baste it? What temperature is best? Answers to these types of questions often don’t need a long-winded response, but a single answer. Plain and simple. Google’s response to the ever-growing need to find out rapidly is quick answers—short, concise answers to simple questions. For marketers, quick answers are an emerging trend you can’t ignore. So how can you use it to your advantage to bolster your campaign?
Google’s Knowledge Graph
Back in 2012, Google released the Knowledge Graph—a system of facts about people, places, and things designed to make search results more accurate and useful. Get answers to queries faster and more efficiently, not a bad idea. But the objective was to provide answers, not links; improving search experience for the user, and for Google; behind-the-scenes search relevancy.
Originally, the Knowledge Graph box offered direct answers to direct inquiries—quick answers. But over time, Google started offering more detailed answers, showing step-by-step instructions. Bulleted lists now appear with more regularity for “how to” queries, like “how to cook a turkey.”
When Does Google Provide a Source Link to Quick Answers?
Fast forward to 2015. According to MozCast, a quick answer shows up in nearly 4 percent of all queries. And when a quick answer or Knowledge Graph data is displayed in search results, sometimes it’s accompanied by a source. But in other cases, it’s not. Google says that when the information is factual, they’ll present it “as is.” When relevant snippets from websites are shown or when the information isn’t widely known, it’ll show the source. Good news for marketers; so how do you get your content to show?
Unlocking Google’s Knowledge Graph Results
For publishers with content that can be summarized in a few useful steps, showing up in prominent search entries is key and getting your content into Google’s Knowledge Graph is something you want to understand.
- Implement the right schema markup. Most Knowledge Graph entries draw from it, yet surprisingly, as few as 0.3 percent of websites actually use it. Use the guide at schema.org to get started.
- Use a <h1> header tag that matches the “how to” query for which you want to rank. This is how quick answers get triggered, and how your content can be promoted. Pair the header with <ol> ordered list and <li> list tags in the markup for your step-by-step content. This will increase the likelihood that quick answers will trigger.
- Optimize your content. Knowledge Graph answers are taken mostly from the first page of results. So while you don’t need to be number one, it helps to be on page one. And, of course, it’s never bad advice to focus on creating high-quality content and a seamless user experience.
Is Google making the move to publishing? Probably not, but quick answers are part of an emerging trend and it looks like the Knowledge Graph is here to stay. Google will likely continue to pull website content—whether we like it or not, and if you want your site to be visible in search results, it’s best to make sure you’re included. What started as short definitions and factual statements has moved to step-by-step instructions, and smart brands are maximizing the opportunity.