Google Answer Boxes Now in the Home Performance Industry!
You may have noticed a recent trend in search results: rather than give you a link to a website, Google is increasingly answering the question right in the search results. We saw this many times during election searches, sports score queries and now, it is even showing up in the home performance industry.
It is in Google’s best interest to answer all your questions without making you leave their site. The longer you stay on Google, the more you look at their ads and the more likely you’ll be to perform another search. But it’s unlikely Google itself knows the score of the football game or the definition of an air barrier, so how can Google answer all of your questions? The solution is Answer Boxes. Answer Boxes anticipate what you’re looking to get out of your search query, find the best result from some tidbit of information from a different site, and present the information right on the search result page.
Answer Boxes in the Home Performance Industry
Our team has seen Answer Boxes pop in a variety home performance and HVAC-related search queries. Answer Box-producing queries include:
- “Air barrier”
- “Furnace Prices”
- “Air conditioner prices”
- “What is the stack effect?”
- “What is spray foam insulation?”
- “What is IAQ?”
- “What is home performance?”
Let’s examine the search “air barrier.” This is a common term used in the insulation or building industry, but maybe not so common for the average homeowner. If a homeowner hears that term during an insulation job, they may Google it to find more information.
Before the emergence of Answer Boxes, searchers would have had to click through to sites like buildingscience.com or Wikipedia. But now, the searchers immediately see an Answer Box on Google that displays a quick summary of air barriers (provided by buildingscience.com).
This benefits Google, because people stay on their site. It benefit the searcher, because it negates the need for them to scroll through long articles to find a short answer. Building Science Corporation gets the “prestige” of being the best answer, but the downside is they are deprived of the valuable web traffic from the searcher.
In this example, Building Science is also the #1 search result for the query “air barrier.” Answer Boxes do not, however, always come from the #1 search result. The term “Air Conditioner Prices” shows Home Depot as the #1 result, but the Answer Box text is pulling from a different site, centralairconditionerprice.com. So, if you are not the #1 result for your search term, hope is still alive if you are vying for an Answer Box!
Voice Searches: Is Your Website Ready?
Search is getting more conversational and so are search results. The advent of voice searches--“Hey Google, what is R-value?”--has made Answer Boxes even more prominent.
We can ask our phones for anything these days. Whether you have Siri, Alexa or Cortana, everyone has probably at least tried a voice search in the past. This is a direction that technology companies are, for better or worse, determined to follow. Voice searches are making search more conversational, and the Answer Box is a product of this change. Talk to your phone, and it talks back..
So, how can you get your website content ready for a conversational world?
Re-Examine Your Content
The best advice we can offer is to provide content that users are searching for and make it easy for them to find. Start your air sealing page with a very straightforward explanation of what air sealing is and why people need it. If you write for your customers, Google will reward you.
Take the time to read through a few of your top landing pages. If the content provided is what you have found your customers want to hear, great! If the writing is unclear or is stuffed with keywords, it might be time for a rewrite with the customer in mind.
How To Show Up In An Answer Box
We’re not offering a guarantees here, but why not do everything you can to increase the chance you’ll show up in an Answer Box? These five tips will also help with your site’s overall SEO and visitor engagement:
- First, make sure your website uses responsive design--so that it works across all devices.
- Optimize your site with proper keywords, acquire plenty of backlinks and use conversion-centric design so when users search for terms related to your company, your site displays on the first page of Google, or early on the second.
- On your individual service pages, write one or two conversational sentences that answer a fundamental question about your service in a concise, to-the-point way.
- Make sure your targeted search terms (like “What is air sealing?) are tagged as Heading 1, or H1, to enhance its SEO value. If your answer copy is a how-to, provide clear, numbered steps (like “3 Steps for Insulating My Attic”).
- Check your site’s analytics to ensure metrics like bounce rate, page duration and pages per visit are favorable and that your changes have enhanced page performance; a high-performing page is much more likely to be drawn into an Answer Box than is a poorly-performing one.
You may think that small companies will struggle to win these Answer Box spaces when competing against major websites like Wikipedia or Building Science. But don’t give up hope, because we’re seeing evidence that it’s possible. Congrats to Building Performance Group, a ____, KY contractor, that has reigned for several years on the query, “What is Home Performance?”