If you are in the SEO business or work…
When someone asks a question, they expect an answer. Naturally, the preferred response to voice search is a verbal answer. The next best thing is a picture. Google’s Knowledge Panels are that picture. They are today’s rich snippets. Now, the SEO gold is no longer being #1. It is being in position zero; the answer box.
Rich Snippets Give Way to Knowledge Graph
SEO rich snippets used to be all about microdata and schema markup. Rise of mobile usage and voice searched changed that. By 2016, Google has dialed down eye catching insertions. Results are more compact, mobile friendly and uniform looking. Rise of voice search is prompting Google, Siri, Echo, and automobiles to try to simply provide answers. Video thumbnails, author snippets, and long lists of local results are now replaced with Answer Boxes, Tables, Lists, Organization Knowledge Panels, and 3-pack local results.
JSON-LD vs. Microdata
Not only does the Google SERP look less fancy, but the way to get there is less fancy too! We used to do all kinds of content markup tricks to trigger rich snippets – hiding microdata in NOSCRIPT tags, meta tags, etc. Now Google recommends JSON-LD for schema, which is completely invisible from the user and separate from the content. JSON-LD is great for local SEO and getting your organization information, like logo, social profiles, images, phone number, etc to appear in a nice big Google Knowledge Panel. These most often appear for brand searches or when there are very few nearby competitors on a non-brand search.
Google Answer Boxes, Tables and Lists
After the brand search low hanging fruit of local SEO and organization markup is complete, the next tactic should be content marketing. Brands now think of themselves as publishers. The idea is to engage users who are self guiding through the conversion funnel. Content must cover the complete audience across a full spectrum of user segments and phases within the user journey.
A golden opportunity in SEO for content marketing is to be featured in Google search in an answer box, table or list. These are prominent and drive traffic. No markup is needed for these. Just be sure the page provides both the simple and complete answer to your user. Use standard HTML to provide tables and lists. Google will recreate these in search results.
Brightedge provides guidelines to help get into Google quick answers, but here are the highlights.
- Be ranked in the top 5 positions in search results
- Have at least 1,000+ links to your domain
- Have 1,500 – 2,000 words on a page
- Have a low bounce rate from search
- Include your target question in H1
- Answer the question in the first paragraph
Voice Search and the Future of SEO
This video from Rand Fishkin gives an easy to understand and logical look at voice search and/or conversational search’s affect on SEO. Basically as voice search grows, traditional typed searches will continue to grow. Very simple answers will be addressed with direct answers, while more complicated results will require a user to click through to a website. This further supports the idea behind ensuring your content illustrates both know simple and know complete.