Financial services companies looking to boost their online brand and traffic should focus on winning the prime place in Google search results called Direct Answers which appear in more than a quarter (27%) of finance-related searches, providing immediate answers to searchers’ financial questions.
New research from SEO and content marketing firm Searchmetrics reveals that brands such as Bankrate.com, Investopedia.com and Wellsfargo.com are already successfully appearing in Direct Answers (also known as ‘Featured Snippets’).
“Often called ‘position zero‘ because they appear above the No. 1 organic search listing and are increasingly the only answer highlighted in voice search queries, Direct Answers can help companies fend off competition as organic search real estate on the first results page continues to shrink with Google‘s changes,“ said Cliff Edwards, director of marketing & communications at Searchmetrics.
Per the study, which analyzed 25,000 US search results, Direct Answers (also known as Featured Snippets) show up in more than a quarter (27%) of finance-related searches, providing immediate answers to search queries. By comparison, they appear in 18% of health-related searches and less than 3% of ecommerce, travel and media searches.
Content from Wikipedia, a site that is highly trusted by Google, features most frequently in Direct Answers – making it into 14.1% of Direct Answers boxes shown for finance searches. However, several financial services brands also appear regularly, with Investopedia.com featuring in 8.2% of finance-related Direct Answers, followed by Nerdwallet.com (4.7%), Bankrate.com (3.2%) and Wellsfargo.com (2.8%).
On average, finance websites can attract around 2,622 clicks per month by appearing in a Direct Answers box, according to the data. And if the brands were to pay for those clicks using Google Adwords pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, they would need to spend around $5.17 per click.
There are even indications that appearing in Direct Answers could help brands win in voice search on smart speakers. Google Home, for example, only reads out one answer to a question – and this is usually the result that features as a Direct Answer in the search results.
“For complex topics such as financial services and health, consumers are likely to have a lot of questions – which may explain why Google seems to include Direct Answers boxes more frequently for these areas in search results,” said Edwards. “But across all sectors, Direct Answers provide an excellent opportunity for a company to increase visibility in searches while driving click-throughs and engagement.”
Brands that want to target Direct Answers need to start by building a good understanding of the common questions that consumers are asking in their industry and to create high quality content that answers them according to Edwards.
“There’s no magic formula to get your site appearing in Direct Answers. To increase your chances, your content has to be very clear and easy to understand, with a well-ordered structure using short paragraphs, bullets or tables, for example, along with correct technical optimization of your web pages. And your website content also has to demonstrate to Google that it’s an authority for the topics you’re targeting.”
More findings from the Searchmetrics’ research can be found in this infographics ‚ ‘The Battle for Position Zero: Featured Snippets in the Health Industry‘.
There is also a Searchmetrics blog post that provides an overview of the main findings.
About the study
Searchmetrics analysed 25,000 Google,com (US) desktop search results across five different vertical sectors (finance, health, retail, travel and media) identifying how frequently Direct Answers (featured snippets) appear and related metrics.