Why Local Businesses Should Embrace Google’s New Rich Answers

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You may have noticed that your Google searches have gotten a whole lot simpler lately. You submit an inquiry and see the answer you’re looking for spelled out at the very top of the search results, no web-surfing required.

These click-free answers are called Google Rich Answers (or Direct Answers), and anyone concerned about attracting customers through SEO content is likely to have mixed feelings about this obvious enhancement to Google’s user experience. All of your efforts to strengthen your SEO appear to be on the brink of obsolescence as your target audience accesses more content similar to your own without leaving the search engine results page. But, there is a platinum lining to the information overcast hanging over your search results.

Here are three ways that Rich Answers can actually improve the quality of your web traffic.

Rich Answers Reduce Bounce Rates:
Your content coming up in search results doesn’t necessarily mean that it provides the exact information searchers are looking for — or that the information is easy to spot on the landing page.

Most people search via mobile and while on the go. With their time and attention in a pinch, readers likely try another page the moment they see that the answer they’re looking for is either missing from your landing page or buried in a 500-word how-to article. These quick glances are probably driving high bounce rates, which, in turn, lower your Google ranking. So, not only do these quick question searches result in low conversions, they contribute to a reduction in Google rankings and web traffic over time. Rich Answers satisfy people’s cursory curiosities without sabotaging the stickiness of your quality content.

Rich Answers are a Velvet Rope Entry for Serious Prospects:
Obviously, not every visitor is a customer. Unfortunately, when the search engine you rely on for leads directs people to websites regardless of their intent, businesses have no way of determining which customers they lost and which visitors were never serious prospects in the first place. This ghost traffic skews an otherwise more promising conversion rate to appear less successful. With Rich Answers addressing their inquiry upfront, fewer false customers will click through to websites and muddle your efforts to increase conversion and engagement rates for your target market. Those that do click beyond the search engine results page to get more details are likely serious customers, looking to make informed purchasing decisions; it’s those people who should be the focus of all your efforts.

Rich Answers Offer Alternate Avenues of Topping Search Results:
Competing against major national brands to top search engine results can be a huge challenge, even at the local level. And, many of the factors influencing your search engine ranking — such as engagement and links to your website — are difficult to control. However, with Rich Answers, content creators have a new shot at getting to the top of the search engine page. In fact, one Washington Post-cited study by marketing consultant company Stone Temple found that 54% of the Rich Answers indexed came from a website with a Moz Domain Authority (“DA”) of 60 or below.

The ranking system, the best score being 100, predicts how highly a website will rank in search engine results. The fact that lower ranking sites get featured as Rich Answers means that smaller businesses have an opportunity to get their answers featured and earn a boost in traffic. Their chances will further improve as Google begins indexing more hyperlocal content.

Rich Answers isn’t the first disruption to challenge your company’s resilience, and it won’t be the last. Fortunately, this shift is a sign of progress, streamlining consumer search while refining your audience. Once your company overcomes the growing pains of adjusting to this reduction in forced web traffic, you’ll never look back.

Manpreet-SinghManpreet Singh is Founder and President of TalkLocal, a local startup with apps on iPhone and Android which help consumers find and speak to high-quality local professionals in minutes. Follow him @MSinghCFA.