December 29th, 2015
Search Engine Optimization
For digital marketers, Google is king. The search engine giant has had a profound impact on the way content is discovered online, which in turn can lead to the making or breaking of a business. Naturally, it’s a huge win for any company if they can get their website content to appear on the first page of Google search results – but what if you could go even further and have your content highlighted in a separate box on the SERPS? That’s where Google OneBox comes in. Although this feature has been around for many years now, it’s worth taking a closer look at it and figuring out some ways to make it work for you.
It’s simple enough to find whatever you’re looking for on the Internet: type your search query into Google and go. However, you may notice some separate structures scattered in and amongst the regular search results — ones that are highlighted in a different color (generally paid listings) and ones in boxes. The results that appear in boxes may not be at the very top of the search results page, but they tend to draw attention regardless — and they’re generally full of the most useful information for the person doing the search.
As Search Engine Land explains, “OneBox unit often appears to highlight news, shopping, image and other results that are blended into regular listings using Universal Search.” Other examples include showing movie listings along with screening times at nearby theaters and links to Metacritic reviews, or information for restaurants that also feature links to Yelp reviews and social media photos taken by foodies. To that point, OneBox listings typically have images associated with them, which cleverly adds a visual component to catch one’s eye. (Search Engine Land also gives the definition for the feature name: “OneBox, by the way, gets its name from the idea that Google searchers should be able to use one single search box to access information from the various Google specialized search engines that exist.”)
Why include this extra highlight feature? In an interview with Search Engine Watch, Google Product Marketing Director Debbie Jaffe is asked why OneBox exists, and answers with this: “Google has always been committed to providing the best answers to users’ questions. This includes creating a simple, but powerful, user experience that connects users to highly relevant answers. This feature is an example of this as users can ‘find’ the answers immediately for certain queries so they don’t have to search through each of the search results.” In other words, it’s a convenient way to cut through all the clutter in the SERPs and find content that could be even more relevant to your query.
So now you’re on the other side: Instead of being the person doing the search query, you want to provide the results. The good news is that the Google OneBox results aren’t paid placements; instead, they’re determined by an algorithm, which means that any website that’s properly optimized by Google’s standards is valid to appear in OneBox.
In the Q&A with Search Engine Watch, Debbie Jaffe explains that “web site and content owners can benefit by getting their content into Google via Google Sitemaps within the webmaster tools suite, Google Base, and Google Book Search along with optimizing their sites for search engines.” So if you want a shot at being featured in OneBox, first you have to make sure that your content falls in line with Google optimization. Try running diagnostics using Google’s tools to see where your website needs improvement – it could be something as simple as the header code or something a bit more complex, like ensuring that your site is optimized for mobile browsing. It’s always useful to sign up for Google’s Webmasters tools to figure out how to bring your website in line with Google’s qualifications.
Also, it’s a good idea to make sure your website is providing well-written, useful content that will answer questions written in search queries. These days, getting any sort of placement in the SERPS relies far more on the quality of content rather than link farming or keyword-stuffing. By providing worthwhile content on an optimized website, you’re likely to attract more inbound links, which can help your website’s standing within Google’s search algorithms. All of this can add up to a bigger push into Google’s spotlight, and potentially inclusion within OneBox.
When you’re working in the digital realm, you want to deploy every trick of the trade in order to get as many eyeballs as possible on your website. Although there’s no quick fix to have your content featured in Google OneBox, it goes to show that if you have an optimized website that provides quality information, your digital offerings will speak for themselves.
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