The Google Answer Box is Position 0 on the search engine’s results page, but you have to work hard to get there. Just answering the question of what you want to rank for isn’t enough. It takes a combination of:

  1. Building pages based on the user experience
  2. Including your question in the H1
  3. Giving a short answer in the first paragraph
  4. Using lists where appropriate

Build Your Pages With User Experience in Mind

Everything with Google and other search engines boils down to user experience. If you cannot provide a good user experience for the searcher, then this means Google has failed their customer. Too much of this, and Google won’t rank you highly for any query, let alone consider your website for the Quick Answers box.

At the most basic level, this means keeping your paragraphs short – topping them out at 500 characters, and lists when possible to prevent the content scannable. Use informative headings to ensure people can get to the information they want quickly.

At the more technical level, this means building responsive pages, so the content adjusts according to the screen it’s viewed on. With the majority of internet traffic coming from smartphones and tablets, the days of designing specifically for desktops are long gone. It means ensuring your pages load quickly – ideally, within one to two seconds.

Include Your Target Question in the H1

By writing out the question you’re targeting in the H1, you’re making sure Google understands your intention with the page. You can see we’ve done it here in this blog post, too.

Directly Answer the Question in the First Paragraph

It’s best to provide a short direct answer to the question in the first paragraph. If your question is best answered with a list, you can use either the <ul> tag for an unordered list or <ol> tag for an ordered list where the order of steps matters. As you create the rest of your copy, it’s important to use variations of your keyword. Do this by exploring related keywords using search volume LSI and look to see if the topic or keyword is already providing an answer in position zero.

Use the rest of your copy to reference the query with Google’s “People also searched for…” on the SERP.

For instance, if you search, “How to Boil an Egg” and find that’s an excellent opportunity to target. (Right now, Food Network has that one, so it’d be incredibly difficult to land.)

answer box example food network hard boiled eggs recipe

People also ask the question “What is” will be another great way to make sure you’re addressing the content to the fullest extent possible, because your content should also answer those questions, too.

search engine ask results example screenshot

And you’ll also find them at the bottom of the SERP.

search engine related searches example screenshot

These are the words and phrases you should be working into your answer page if you are trying to earn position 0 for that query. You can also look at the related searches SERPs to determine if there are other Answer Box opportunities to go after, or at the very least, any easier ones you should try to tackle first.

Use How To Lists on the Page as Appropriate

Use ‘how to’ or other lists on your page as appropriate. If you use random lists in no particular order or focus, consider adding “Step 1, Step 2, etc.” to each of the bullets as appropriate to make it easier for Google to interpret it.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • If the page containing the answer is low quality and belongs to a domain that doesn’t have higher authority on the topic than your page, then it’s an excellent opportunity.
  • Some queries will have answers from top quality, high authority domains. Those will be hard to knock out of position, and likely aren’t worth pursuing.
  • 70% of the sites with Quick Answers have less than 2,000 words on the page that answers the question.
  • 81% of sites with a quick answer have a minimum of 1,000 referring domains. However, 50% have over 10,000 domains – so the more domains you have linking to your site, the better – as long as they are quality links.
  • 77% of the Quick Answer responses are from websites ranked within the top 5, although you might occasionally see results the break this rule.