SEO — 23 min read — Nov 29, 2017

Absolute Zero: Ultimate Research Of Google Answer Box And How To Benefit From It

Absolute Zero: Ultimate Research Of Google Answer Box And How To Benefit From It
Picture by: Natalya Soroka

Kirill Levenets
Mathematical Analyst at Serpstat
Google continually strives to provide users with brief and accurate answers to their questions. "Answer box" feature is designed to give answers to the searcher's query immediately, without even leaving the SERP. I conducted a small research to learn more about "answer box" feature and in this article, I'm going to share the results.
In my previous article about Google SERPs I promised to write a new one all about "answer box" element, and here it is. Read this post to find out what the main kinds of "answer box" feature are, how often it occurs, for what keywords it is displayed, and what domains are most commonly shown in top-10 under the "answer box" block.

What Keywords to Use And How to Get Featured

What is the answer box and how to benefit from it?

Answer box is a SERP feature which goal is to provide you with an instant and direct answer to your question. It occurs above the organic results in the left column.

Let's say you want to learn who the author of the "Murder on the Orient Express" is, type this query to Google and you'll see the answer:
Besides text content, answer box may also include pictures, videos, and graphs. Answers mainly come from Google's data partners and Knowledge graph.

Answer box may also look like a summary of an answer to a user's question extracted from a webpage from top 10 organic results with the page's title and URL. Such answer box is usually called a "featured snippet."

This article is mostly about answer box without links. I took the random keywords (15 000 000) from our US database and picked those that display answer box element. Then I divided these keywords into categories and here's what I got:
There is no data on the featured snippet on this graph. This answer box type is the most common (17,2%).

What's the benefit for SEO specialists?

1
You can get to the answer box with a source by optimizing your content. By obtaining a featured snippet your CTR and traffic will increase dramatically.
2
Although you cannot get to answer box without a source, you still can turn it to your advantage. Analyze the keywords and improve your SEO strategy by including/ excluding some keywords.
3
Despite the fact that answer box should provide a user with a required answer, it may be not enough and he/she will try to find the desired information in the organic results.

Let's say the person is searching for "unemployment rate in New York," maybe he/she is moving to New York and tries to evaluate the chances to find the work. Provide him/her with a detailed unemployment graph and then offer to look through the open positions you have.

Don't be afraid of answer box, analyze the keywords that display them and modify your SEO strategy.
That is why I also prepared a list of domains that are most commonly shown in top 10 under the answer box block.
#1

Featured snippet

Description

There are 3 types of featured snippets now available: text, numbered or bulleted list, and table.

Let's dwell on the main differences between the featured snippet and the answer box with no source:

  1. Featured snippet comes from one of the top 10 organic results. If you get features, you are always listed twice on the first page. Moreover, you don't need to rank #1 to get there, Google chooses the most relevant result.

  2. It includes URL and title of the source and user may click on the link to get more information. That's why you can and even need to win this answer box.

The featured snippet is displayed in response to queries involving a general answer. Besides text, Google may also add an image or YouTube video. Quite often the image and text are taken from different sources. This shows that Google chooses the most relevant elements and combines them into one block. Moreover, these elements may be changed if Google finds the more relevant ones.


Examples of keywords:

  • how to tie a tie
  • energy centers of the world
  • energy foods for exercise
  • new York events this month
  • Grand Opera

How to get there? Check the part of my previous post about SERP elements.

Stats

Featured snippet is displayed for 17,2% of the analyzed keywords (15 M).
Top domains:

  • wikipedia.org
  • webmd.com
  • wikihow.com
  • healthline.com
  • allrecipes.com
  • youtube.com
  • mayoclinic.org
  • quora.com
  • nih.gov
  • amazon.com

Click to zoom
#2

Brief answer

Description

This is the simplest and the most common answer box. It includes: brief answer (1-2 words) to your question, picture, "people also search for" block, and sometimes drop-down menu with more detailed info about the topic.

Examples of keywords:

  • university of California acceptance rate
  • how old is Clinton
  • Zahara latest music
  • invented radar
  • zip code for Jackson Ohio

Stats

"Brief answer" is displayed for 1.89% of the analyzed keywords.
Top domains:

  • youtube.com
  • wikipedia.org
  • azlyrics.com
  • genius.com
  • imdb.com
  • metrolyrics.com
  • zip-codes.com
  • fueleconomy.gov
  • biography.com
  • zipmap.net

#3

Dictionary

Description

As you may have guessed, this answer box is a kind of dictionary by Google just under the search box. To see this answer box type the term you want to get the definition for. If you're searching for a quite a common word, add "definition" so that Google can understand that you're searching for the meaning of this word. In response to such query Google will return the definition of this word, transcription, and its part of the speech. To get more info about this word just click on the drop-down menu and you'll see its origin, the use over time, and translation to other languages.

Moreover, you can search for synonyms or antonyms of the words. So if you need an opposite of the word "brilliant," type "opposite of brilliant" and you'll see several definitions of this word with antonyms to all of them.

Examples of keywords:

  • Archaic
  • Phantom
  • meaning of gyrus
  • opposite of brilliant
  • carbohydrate definition
  • synonym of incomplete

Stats

"Dictionary" is displayed for 1.89% of the analyzed keywords.
Top domains:

  • dictionary.com
  • merriam-webster.com
  • thesaurus.com
  • wikipedia.org
  • urbandictionary.com
  • cambridge.org
  • thefreedictionary.com
  • investopedia.com
  • vocabulary.com
  • businessdictionary.com

#4

Weather

Description

You've seen this block for sure trying to find out what the weather is. To get this answer box just type "weather in [location/toponym]." In response to such query Google will display the temperature and cloud cover now + the weather forecast for the upcoming week, amount of precipitation and wind speed. Google takes this info from its data partner — weather.com.

Thus Google offers to visit this website for more info.

Examples of keywords:

  • weather in Boston
  • Athens weather forecast
  • Juneau Alaska temperature
  • Texel weer
  • thunderstorm in UK

Stats

"Weather" is displayed for 0,37% of the analyzed keywords.
Top domains:

  • weather.com
  • accuweather.com
  • bbc.com
  • theweathernetwork.com
  • weatherzone.com.au
  • bom.gov.au
  • wunderground.com
  • timeanddate.com
  • 3bmeteo.com
  • lachainemeteo.com

#5

Translator

Description

Google translator is the most popular online translator used by people all over the world. But to get the translation of any keyword you don't need to go to Google translator, just write the word and the language you need translation for and you'll see the result in seconds just under the search box. Open the drop-down menu to see more synonyms of this word.

Moreover, you can type the languages you need into the search box and Google will automatically set these languages. So if you need to translate several words of phrase from Spanish to English type "Spanish to English."


Examples of keywords:

  • piano translation Italian
  • earth translated Mandarin
  • till next time in German
  • French to Spanish
  • I miss you Tamil

Stats

"Translator" is displayed for 0,22% of the analyzed keywords.
Top domains:

  • spanishdict.com
  • collinsdictionary.com
  • wordreference.com
  • google.com
  • reverso.net
  • youtube.com
  • bab.la
  • urbandictionary.com
  • wikipedia.org
  • freetranslation.com

#6

Sports

Description

This answer box is shown in response to queries related to sports like schedule of sports events or championship results. It usually looks like a table with the team/ club, their logos, the date of the championship and sometimes video. Click on the drop-down menu to see the detailed info about the upcoming matches, the related news, and standings. Google colors this block according to the football club color. That's why this answer box stands out of the organic search results.

Examples of keywords:

  • Manchester United
  • Lakers scores schedule
  • Euro 2018
  • Man City vs Stoke live
  • Aston Villa
  • Mavs vs Warriors

Stats

"Sports" answer box is displayed for 0,17% of the analyzed keywords.
Top domains:

  • espn.com
  • wikipedia.org
  • mlb.com
  • nfl.com
  • nhl.com
  • nba.com
  • youtube.com
  • cricbuzz.com
  • soccerway.com
  • espncricinfo.com

#7

Transfer

Description

This answer box is powered by Google maps. If you are in the unknown city and need to find out how to get from one place to another one, just type the address to Google and get info in seconds! As in Google Maps, you can choose the way to travel: driving, public transport, walking or cycling. Google will show how much time each of this ways will take you and what the distance is. If you choose the public transport, Google will also show the bus stops/metro stations and the departure time. By clicking on the map, you'll go to Google maps.


Examples of keywords:

  • 181 Church St to 4797 Broadway
  • New York to Los Angeles
  • train Paris Trouville
  • Dublin Port to Holyhead
  • Montreal New York train

Stats

"Transfer" is displayed for 0,14% of the analyzed keywords.
Top domains:

  • tripadvisor.com
  • google.com
  • thetrainline.com
  • wanderu.com
  • distance-cities.com
  • greyhound.com
  • mapquest.com
  • goeuro.com
  • indiarailinfo.com
  • makemytrip.com

#8

Flights (Sponsored)

Description

Don't confuse this answer box with the "transfer" one. Although both of them are about transferring, this one is all about flights and it's powered by Google Flights — online flight booking search service which facilitates the purchase of airline tickets through third-party suppliers. Note, that it's a sponsored block and Google doesn't hide this fact.

There are two types: flights and destinations.

"Flights" block occurs when you type a certain departure and arrival points i.e. "New York London flights." Here you'll see the schedule of all flights available for the specified cities (both non-stop and connecting), flight time, airlines, and price. Set the required date to get the information.
Google shows destinations block when you don't specify the arrival point. Let's say you want to get to France from New York, Google will offer you several cities in France (Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Lille) where you can get to with the ticket price and map. Click on any of the cities to go to Google flights for more information.

Examples of keywords:

  • London Berlin flights
  • New York France flights
  • Newark to Toronto
  • Stansted Milan
  • low-cost airline Dublin

Stats

"Flights" answer box is displayed for 0,11% of the analyzed keywords.
Top domains:

  • google.com
  • expedia.com
  • kayak.com
  • tripadvisor.com
  • cheapflights.com
  • skyscanner.net
  • skyscanner.com
  • makemytrip.com
  • volagratis.com
  • orbitz.com

#9

Unit converter

Description

It's probably the favorite answer box of students. By using this converter you can easily convert from one measurement to another in several clicks. For example, you could convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit or cups to liters. Just type your conversion into the search box or "unit converter" and Google will show you the answer.

Here's the full list of conversions you can do:
Examples of keywords:

  • lbs to kg calculator
  • calories to joules
  • pounds conversion kilos
  • how many ounces in 600 ml
  • whats bigger mb or kb

Stats

"Unit converter" is displayed for 0,08% of the analyzed keywords.
Top domains:

  • metric-conversions.org
  • rapidtables.com
  • asknumbers.com
  • convertunits.com
  • thecalculatorsite.com
  • calculateme.com
  • theunitconverter.com
  • convertnation.com
  • wikipedia.org
  • youtube.com

#10

Stock

Description

Do you want to feel like a wolf of Wall Street? Then you can follow the stock prices easily using Google answer box. Enter any query related to stock and you'll see the stock price today by hours. Google also shows the history of the stock price, you can choose the time period you want (5 days, month, 3 months, year, 5 years, max period of time). End of day prices provided by SIX Financial Information.

Examples of keywords:

  • microsoft stock price
  • nasdaq tsla
  • nyse usdp
  • jpmorgan mid cap value instl
  • apollo apo

Stats

"Stock" is displayed for 0,08% of the analyzed keywords.
Top domains:

  • yahoo.com
  • marketwatch.com
  • moneycontrol.com
  • nasdaq.com
  • bloomberg.com
  • morningstar.com
  • google.com
  • fool.com
  • hl.co.uk
  • thestreet.com

#11

Time

Description

Do you want to find out what time it's now on another continent or what's the time difference between two countries? Ask Google and you'll see the exact time and date in the searches location with the time zone which is used there.

Examples of keywords:

  • what time is it in California
  • time it in Tokyo
  • cst to pacific
  • time difference England and Dubai
  • time now in Bloomington

Stats

"Time" answer box is displayed for 0,08% of the analyzed keywords.
Top domains:

  • timeanddate.com
  • worldtimeserver.com
  • time.is
  • timetemperature.com
  • worldtimebuddy.com
  • timebie.com
  • greenwichmeantime.com
  • worldtimezone.com
  • happyzebra.com
  • 24timezones.com

#12

Currency Converter

Description

If you want to convert one currency to another one the only thing you should do is to type the required query to Google. In response to "currency conversion" query, Google will show you the currency calculator where you can choose the required currencies and type the sum you need to convert.

Or you can just type "USD to GBP," and Google will select the specified currencies automatically. To get the instant result, you can type something like "35 dollars in pounds," and you'll see how many pounds you'll get for 35 dollars. In addition to the currency converter, Google also shows the historical chart so that you can see how the exchange rate for this currency pair is changing.


Examples of keywords:

  • currency conversion
  • USD to GBP
  • 35 dollars in pounds
  • Myanmar dollar exchange
  • Swiss kroner

Stats

"Currency converter" answer box is displayed for 0,07% of the analyzed keywords.
Top domains:

  • xe.com
  • x-rates.com
  • themoneyconverter.com
  • coinmill.com
  • wikipedia.org
  • fx-exchange.com
  • mconvert.net
  • oanda.com
  • coindesk.com
  • bloomberg.com

    #13

    When Is

    Description

    If you want to quickly find the date of the upcoming event or holiday, ask Google and you'll get an instant answer. If the event or holiday you're searching for is significant and is about to happen, Google will show the date even if you just type the name of this event or holiday. In other cases add "when is" to your query to get the data. When searching for some event which has specified start and end time, Google will display both of them.

    Examples of keywords:

    • when is the NBA draft
    • Easter date
    • world Autism Awareness Month
    • Singapore marathons
    • date light savings time

    Stats

    "When is" answer box is displayed for 0,03% of the analyzed keywords.
    Top domains:

    • wikipedia.org
    • timeanddate.com
    • when-is.com
    • almanac.com
    • un.org
    • nationaldaycalendar.com
    • wheniseastersunday.com
    • chabad.org
    • youtube.com
    • huffingtonpost.com

    #14

    Nutrition

    Description

    Here's another great answer box for those who prefer being in shape. The nutrition answer box is shown to people looking for nutrition facts of this or that food item. So if you want to find out how many carbs are in a banana just type "banana carbs" and you'll see the answer box where you can choose the quantity, i.e. 100 grams/ 1 small banana/ 1 cup of mashed bananas, etc. Moreover, if you type some item that has lots of types, like cheese, Google will offer you to choose which type you want to get info for.

    Besides three primary macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) Google can also show the quantity of following elements: potassium, sodium, cholesterol, vitamins, etc.

    Examples of keywords:

    • calories in watermelon
    • fried potato calories
    • clementine fiber
    • almonds sodium
    • banana potassium
    • grape vitamin A

    Stats

    "Nutrition" answer box is displayed for 0,02% of the analyzed keywords.
    Top domains:

    • myfitnesspal.com
    • livestrong.com
    • sfgate.com
    • fatsecret.com
    • self.com
    • weightlossresources.co.uk
    • eatthismuch.com
    • verywell.com
    • healthline.com
    • calorieking.com

    #15

    Population

    Description

    For queries that imply the person is looking for the population in some region, Google shows the population answer box. If you need the data on how many people live in any city/county/continent, just type "area+ population" into the search box, and in response Google will show you a population stats of the past years(decades). You can also specify the year you want to get population data for, i.e. "US population in 2015."

    This block is also shown in response to population related queries, so if you are searching for "New York unemployment rate" you'll also see this block. Moreover, Google compares the population curve of the searched location with other neighboring ones. So if you search for population in France, you'll also see the number of people living in Madrid and Rome. To choose other cities/countries to compare with the one you're searching for, click on "Explore more" in the bottom of the answer box.

    Examples of keywords:

    • California population
    • population of India
    • what is the population in Chile
    • US population in 2003
    • population of Bermuda

    Stats

    "Population" answer box is displayed for 0,02% of the analyzed keywords.
    Top domains:

    • wikipedia.org
    • suburbanstats.org
    • worldometers.info
    • tradingeconomics.com
    • bls.gov
    • census.gov
    • countryeconomy.com
    • worldbank.org
    • worldlifeexpectancy.com
    • worldpopulationreview.com

      The next answer box types are quite rare, they're displayed for less than 0,01% of the keyword list we analyzed. That's why they're not shown on the graph. Yet these answer box kinds also deserve being mentioned in this post.
      #16

      Earthquake

      If you want to learn more about the recent earthquake, you can get this info in Google in seconds. It will show you the seismic magnitude of this earthquake, when and where it took place and also where this place is on the map. Moreover, Google also adds "what to do after an earthquake" drop-down list at the bottom of this box. There's also a link to the partner's website where Google suggests you find more info about the earthquake.. Note that this answer box doesn't show the data for all regions.

      Examples of keywords:

      • earthquake California
      • earthquake today in Philippines
      • when was earthquake in Japan
      • recent earthquakes
      • Alaskan quake
      Top domains:

      • earthquaketrack.com
      • wikipedia.org
      • usgs.gov
      • caltech.edu
      • twitter.com
      • latimes.com
      • alaska.edu
      • eitb.eus
      • mtu.edu
      • nationalgeographic.com

        #17

        Color picker

        Here's another uncommon answer box which is shown to people searching for color codes. It's a great tool to find out the color code of this or that color, just type "color picker," choose the color you like and copy its color code. But the main advantage of this tool is that it shows the color code according to different color models (RGB/HEX/CMYK/HSL/HSV). So that you can use it as a converter as well.

        Examples of keywords:

        • rgb(255,255,255)
        • color picker
        • #ffff00
        #18

        Calculator

        You can use the calculator for any math problem you want to solve, like calculating the tip at a restaurant, making graphs, or solving geometry problems. Type your equation into the search box or search for "calculator." Here's the list of calculations you can do using Google calculator:

        • arithmetic
        • functions
        • value of physical constants
        • base and representative conversion

        Moreover, you can also graph complicated equations in seconds. Enter the function you need and you'll see the two- or three-dimensional graph. To explore the function in more detail, zoom in and out and pan across the plane. If you need to plot multiple functions together, separate the formulas with a comma.
        Unfortunately, when I was studying at high school, Google didn't have such a great feature ;)

        Examples of keywords:

        • cos(3x)+sin(x), cos(7x)+sin(x)
        • a^2+b^2=c^2 calc a=4 b=7 c=?
        • sin(x)/x+sin(y)/y
        • sec 2x graph
        • cosine x
        • sqrt cos 2 x
        Top domains:

        • desmos.com
        • yahoo.com
        • quora.com
        • socratic.org
        • algebra.com
        • mathway.com
        • wikipedia.org
        • rapidtables.com
        • stackexchange.com
        • analyzemath.com

            Summing up

            Although we analyzed 15M keywords, you still can notice other types of the answer box feature.

            BTW, Google SERPs are changeable, thus don't be surprised if you don't see this or that answer box for the listed keyword. It happens that answer box without a source turns to a featured snippet and vice versa. Don't underestimate answer box as they may play a huge role in your website promotion.
            What uncommon SERP elements have you run into? Don't hesitate to share them :)

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