Google to Allow Q&A Directly in Search Results
Google may be rolling out a new interface that allows web users to ask questions directly on the search engine results page (SERP) and answer the questions posed by other searchers.
What does this mean for marketers? Will your traffic take a nose-dive if users are finding answers directly on the search results page instead of clicking through to your site?
Or will it open the door to better engage with your target audience?
Why Marketers Shouldn’t Be Too Surprised
“People come to Google seeking information about all kinds of questions.”
This was the message included when Google announced last December that it “developed a new rich result type for question-and-answer sites…[where]search results for eligible Q&A pages display a preview of the top answers.”
Google is essentially allowing searchers to pose questions and then also answer asked questions directly in the search results.
Think of it like a forum or support/help message board directly in your search results.
Google’s algorithm for the results page has changed dramatically over the years, all to better cater to the searcher. At the end of the day, Google wants to see content that answers what searches are directly looking for and this is the next incarnation of that.
When it comes to creating content, the method we proudly preach (and follow) here at IMPACT is the core message of They Ask, You Answer -- you need to create content that answers your audience’s questions.
Now, I know many of you are already doing this with blog articles, videos, podcasts, and more, but extending the option for people to answer questions directly in Google may be a game changer.
Though you won’t be able to “control” the conversation, you will be able to be a part of it and educate searchers well enough to provide the best answers.
What Could It Mean for Marketers?
Of course we all want to better serve our audience and customers, but as marketers, we also aim to drive real results for our business. A super simplification of digital marketing is more traffic means more leads, which means more sales opportunities.
But what happens if we start losing traffic? What happens if users are getting the answers to their questions without actually going to our site to find them?
Marketers will need to learn to pivot… again.
Like we saw after the introduction of position zero or Featured Snippets in Google, it wouldn't be far-fetched to think that if people are getting their answers directly in the search results, they're less likely to click through and organic traffic may take a hit.
Don't be too distraught though! If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that we must be ready to adapt to how people are buying.
If the future means buyers are remaining more on Google and less on our sites, then that may lead to us investing some of our team’s time in answering questions there.
How Can You Leverage This New Format?
The answer is simple -- continue to answer your buyer’s questions.
Your brand content should already be doing this by answering questions related to the top five topics that we’ve shown to be the biggest drivers of traffic.
And now you may have a bigger opportunity by answering searcher’s questions directly on the SERP.
Now, we don’t know when this will be rolled out entirely. A similar format was initially seen a year ago in India and “other countries where Google may not have as vast of a web index to provide answers on any and every topic,” but we could be seeing it more broadly soon.
If the Q&A format rolls out internationally, you may need to reconsider your team roles to ensure someone is responsible for directly answering questions you want to provide input and value on.
Since we don’t know when this Q&A format will become a reality for all, I recommend continuing to create your content with the one end goal in mind of answering your audience’s questions.
Because at the end of the day, that’s what we should all aim to do.
Wondering where to begin?