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?
Free Guide: The Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization
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?
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.