Google May Be Stealing Your Content
Google wants happy users, and happy users don't have to click through to sites to find answers to their questions. That may be why "answer boxes" are increasingly showing up directly below paid search links. For instance, Web users who type in "direct marketing" see a truncated five-line description from Wikipedia.
While Wikipedia's content is a popular answer box result, for better or for worse, other content marketers are noticing answer boxes containing their information and a link to their sites, as well. Starting on Sept. 25, the number of answer boxes in search results rose 42 percent, day-over-day, writes Peter J. Meyers on Oct. 2 on The Moz Blog. As of Sept. 30, they were up 44 percent, he says.
At face value, these answer boxes may seem like a boon to content marketers. However, in an Oct. 3 WebProNews article, author Chris Crum says:
1. Users May Only Read the Answer Box Information and Never Click Through to Your Site, Even if It's Your Content in the Box. For instance, Google writes that rich snippets and structured data may result in more site hits. But enhancing the few lines of text under the hyperlinked search result may help scanners skip the link. Google asks restaurateurs, for example, to "show the average review and price range."
The plentitude of answer boxes, Crum says, "is concerning to webmasters, as it could mean Google [is] sending them less traffic—particularly for their content that the search engine is actually showing to users."
Razvan Gavrilas takes a different view on July 10 on CognitiveSEO.com, calling answer boxes "Total SERP domination" and adding "You own the searcher." On July 10, he provides three ways marketers can optimize their sites in order to be picked for the boxes: ID keywords, such as "when did," "where is," "how much," and "what/who is"; analyze the keywords in relation to existing boxes, to see if you made the right choices; and create dedicated landing pages.
2. Content May be Old or Inaccurate. As for inaccurate, let's just say Crum found a search result that may have been written by baseball fans who ... really, really don't like the St. Louis Cardinals. (Warning: Language, possibly written by Cubs fans.)
A 2011 result Meyers found a couple months ago for "how much does google make" contains Google's revenue figures from 2010.
3. Content Marketers Can't Update the Answer Boxes in Real Time. Meyers writes that he updated the article, but Google's answer box remains the same. [Editor's Note: This was still true, as of presstime on Friday.]
"While this is only one example," he writes, "it seems to suggest that these answers are not being extracted and created in real-time—they're being stored in some sort of internal Google knowledge base. This may sound familiar, if you've read anything over the last month about Google's theoretical Knowledge Vault."
Are Google's updates helpful to your marketing efforts?
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