Voice Search & Featured Snippets: Why You Need Q&A Content
Content is more likely to accomplish its goals when it's in the right format. Would the content attract more attention and generate more leads as a blog post, ebook, social post, video, infographic, quiz or survey? If it's going to be a blog, should it be a quick read or an in-depth report? Would it work best as a numbered list or a how-to guide?
One format that's often overlooked, however, is "question and answer." The Q&A format is often reserved solely for FAQ pages, but with the rise of two important SEO trends - Google's featured snippets and voice search - Q&A content could be an incredibly effective part of a business's content strategy.
What is Q&A Content?
Q&A content is specifically designed to answer real-world questions that users may have about your product, service or industry. The content is often formatted like an FAQ page, with questions in headings (h1 or h2 tags) followed by answers in relatively short paragraphs. Unlike FAQ pages, however, Q&A content often addresses a wider range of more general topics. In other words, they can basically be a typical blog post formatted in a more conversational, question-and-answer style.
For example, a bookbinding business might have an FAQ that explains detailed, technical information about their specific business and process. The FAQ might include questions like:
- What happens after you place an order with us?
- What type of paper cutting equipment do we use?
While this is great information that can provide some SEO value, it's mostly geared toward people who are already on the bindery's website and are already interested in their services. In order to help attract new business, the bindery could create a blog post titled, "DIY Book Binding Tips," which could have headings such as:
- What is a Good Glue for Bookbinding?
- How Wide Should a Margin Be?
- How to Fold Brochures Quickly
These questions would then be followed by paragraphs that answer them directly and concisely.
Q&A Content Resources
There are many different resources a business or content marketer could use to find out what real people are asking in relation to certain industries or topics, including:
- Blog Comments
- Google Autocomplete
- Social Media
- Yahoo Answers
- Industry blog comments
Indeed, the above question suggestions came from Google Autocomplete:
Q&A Content for Featured Snippets
Google's featured snippets are informational boxes that show up directly in the search results. They may display things like measurement conversions, sports scores, or steps for simple tasks, like this:
There are two important things to remember here:
- Featured snippets are usually listed at the very top of Google's search results.
- Google has not produced this content - they've taken it directly from a site that answers the user's question.
So, despite the fact that Google may be violating their own rules to provide this info, featured snippets show just how powerful Q&A content can be. If your post directly answers a user's question, and the content of your answer is better than your competition's, your site could end up with the very first link in the search results. For one company, acquiring a featured snippet increased traffic to their site by over 500 percent.
Voice Search is Huge - and It's Often Based on Questions
Voice search is arguably the most important trend affecting SEO today. comScore predicts that 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, and Google voice searches have increased by 35 percent since 2008.
By using the Q&A format to incorporate natural language in your content that directly mirrors how people actually speak, you're positioning yourself to rank higher for vocal queries. Going back to our bookbinding example, it's apparent that a search typed into Google can be quite different from one that's spoken. While someone may type "book margin width" or "typical book margin" into Google's search bar, a person is much more likely to ask "how wide should a margin be?" or "how wide is the left margin in a book?" when searching vocally. While this may seem like splitting hairs, it's important to remember that as more and more content is produced, only the best content that provides the most value and most directly answers a user's question will get to the top of the search results.
Also, since the vast majority of voice searches are performed on mobile devices and home assistants, it's essential to ensure that your Q&A content is mobile-friendly - otherwise, it doesn't stand a chance of making it into a featured snippet.
So, while Google has stated that sites should not be optimizing all of their content for featured snippets, it may be worthwhile to occasionally publish content in a Q&A format in order to effectively take advantage of two important SEO trends and continue getting as much organic traffic to your site as possible.