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Thinking Inside The Box: What Is The Google Answer Box and What Does It Mean For Your Law Firm?

Jan 11, 2017 | by Emma Hanes | SEO | Content Marketing
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If you’ve used the Google Search Engine lately, you might have noticed a new feature, the Google Answer Box, which prominently displays a detailed result above all other organic search results and paid ads. The Google Answer Box marks a significant shift in the way Google displays search results, and law firms seeking a competitive edge can use the Google Answer Box to their advantage.

Say Hello To Knowledge Graph

Google’s sole goal is to provide the best search results possible for users. To that end, Google has released a series of updates to improve results, one of which is called Knowledge Graph. Knowledge Graph is unique in that its purpose is to determine what users are trying to find, rather than what they literally type into the search bar. Knowledge graph has been around for a few years, it has helped Google understand semantic search information, and it provides additional information in search results.

How Does The Google Answer Box Work?

Knowledge Graph powers the Google Answer Box, which has three display formats: paragraphs, lists, and tables. The Google Answer Box is designed to connect users with the information they are looking for faster than sorting through search results by prominently displaying what Google considers the best answer.

For instance, if you search Google with the search query, “What is the Google Answer Box?” you will get a result that looks something like this:

Above the regular search results is a snippet of text containing information about the Google Answer Box. The snippet includes a paragraph of text, the date of publication, a small picture, the title of the webpage the paragraph was taken from, and the URL. Google Answer Box will also display results inside of the box as numbered or bulleted lists or in tables.

How Does Google Decide What’s In The Box?

To understand the power of the Google Answer Box, you have to take a closer look at the listings. The result inside the Google Answer Box does not have to be ranked as the first organic search result, it just has to rank on the first page. This means that lower performing pages can now beat out competitors as the first result, driving organic traffic to your website.

How Do I Get Inside The Box? 

At this point, you’re probably wondering how to get content from your website into the Google Answer Box. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as easy. Like most things Google does, the exact details of its algorithm determining the Google Answer Box content are a secret. However, there are a few things you can do to help your chances.

  1. Your search result must appear on the first page of organic search results. Before you can do anything about getting into the Google Answer Box, you need to get your content to appear on the first page of Google search results. Google will not put content into the box that isn’t first page material.
  2. Identify the questions your audience is asking. People are increasingly using search queries that are questions, rather than phrases or words. It’s important to note that while some questions are explicit, others are implicit.
  3. Answer the questions your audience is asking. This might seem obvious, but the key here is to answer questions with the format and language used in the question. For instance, if you identify the implicit question, “Ford Explorer recall” the answer within your content should be: “The Ford Explorer recall affects some 2017 models…” not “Ford recalls the 2017 Explorer.”
  4. Make your answer accurate. This also sounds obvious, but is worth mentioning. It is helpful if your answers contain information from trusted sources and that all statistics and/or facts are up to date. 

What Google Answer Box Means For Your Law Firm

If you have been working hard to get your website ranking as the top organic search result, you might find Google Answer Box frustrating. You’ve put a huge amount of time and effort into optimizing your site for Google, and now you might not even appear first because of the Google Answer Box. But Google Answer Box is a new opportunity for your law firm to better serve users. Google Answer Box was created to respond to the changing ways people search. If your audience is changing, you need to too.

For law firms still struggling with search engine optimization, Google Answer Box is the opportunity to surpass SEO-savvy competitors. The first organic search result isn’t always what Google chooses to be inside the answer box. Law firms that update their websites to be more "Google Answer Box friendly" can potentially see a huge increase in organic traffic from the more detailed results shown in the answer box.

Regardless of where your website ranks in Google organic search results, the Google Answer Box is a great opportunity, and it’s not going to go away anytime soon, so you better get used to it. 

Sidebar emma hanes pic low res About Emma Hanes

Emma Hanes has written content for dozens of attorneys and law firms with a variety of different practice areas. Her work has been featured in the Top 10 Blog Posts from the Texas Bar Today and SmallLaw's Pick of the Week.


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