Earning a place in the answer box on Google search results will promote your expertise and get more traffic to your small business website.

Google’s featured snippets, also commonly referred to as “answer boxes,” are featured answers that appear inside a box at the top of Google search results pages. These snippets are extracted from what Google deems to be the most relevant third-party web page content on the subject. For example, if you search for “How much money should I save for retirement,” a featured snippet box pops up with basic retirement stats provided by AARP, with a link to a relevant page on the AARP website.

There are three types of featured snippets:

  • Paragraph: A paragraph of text and optional photograph explaining the answer
  • List: A bulleted list of steps or answers
  • Table: A table featuring the answer, such as currency conversion or medication dosage

The vast majority of featured snippets are of the paragraph variety. Featured snippets answer searchers’ questions and drive web traffic to the selected site that provides the answer. And with the rise of virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri and in-home smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo, featured snippets are being used more than ever to provide quick answers to voice searches.

Can a small business be featured in a Google answer box? There’s no reason why not, though the competition is stiff. Here are three tips on how small business owners can maximize their chances to get a featured snippet on search results pages.

  • Answer useful questions: You need to start by providing content that can be used in a featured snippet. Think about common questions your customers have about your field. Post those questions on your website, along with answers that are clear, concise, and showcase your expertise.
  • Optimize your SEO: Several studies show the links chosen for answer boxes are almost always in the top 10 organic Google search results (though not always number one). Make sure you follow search-engine optimization best practices.
  • Choose keywords strategically: Certain fields such as healthcare or home repair, and words like “best” and “recipe,” tend to more commonly be assigned featured snippets. Optimize your keywords (particularly loongtail keywords with longer combinations of words or phrases) to be as competitive as possible.
  • Avoid competing with Wikipedia. For any subject that has a Wikipedia entry, the online encyclopedia is likely to be selected over less-popular sources. Think outside the box to pose and answer questions on your website that don’t have dedicated Wikipedia entries.

Evidence suggests that featured snippets result in significantly more web traffic for the websites the snippets link to. So while getting a featured snippet on Google may be a long shot for most small businesses, it could result in a big boost in website visitors and new customers.