When consumers have questions, they flock to Google in droves.
“How do I change a recessed light bulb?”
“What is Coachella?”
“Who is the richest man in the world?”
Several years ago, Google rolled out featured snippets — essentially answer boxes that appear above the first search result. Google is introducing more of these answer boxes every day. A study from Stone Temple Consulting found that of 1.4 million Google queries, 30 percent included answer boxes, a number that has grown rapidly over the past few years.
There may be no field better suited for question-answering content than healthcare. As healthcare consumers, we have no shortage of questions about our health and wellness. That deluge of questions inspired an entire genre of digital content producers, with sites like WebMD and Healthline.
How can you capitalize on this growing opportunity? Start with these tips for identifying the right questions and delivering the most effective answers.
Identifying the Questions
A good place to start is to test health-related questions that already have an answer box. Don’t be discouraged if someone already owns an answer box. You may be able to overtake them for that spot if your answer is more accurate or complete, or better formatted (see “Delivering the Answers” below).
You can also use keyword research tools like those from MOZ or SERPs to look for popular search queries in question form. You can even look to sites like WebMD and Healthline for inspiration: What health questions do they answer that you could address more accurately or fully?
Finally, look to your “proprietary data”: your own patients. Ask your patient-facing teams — physicians, nurses and even your social media team — for the most common health questions they receive from patients.
Delivering the Answers
How do you produce answers that get picked up by Google answer boxes? Focus on these three areas:
- Straightforward language. Concentrate on using literal terms and phrases, and providing highly logical answers to questions. Learn more about using straightforward language in healthcare content.
- The right format. Google answer boxes allow three formats: paragraphs, lists and tables. Match your answer content to the most appropriate format. For example, the answer to “How do I treat a cold?” could be a list, while the answer to “What is Lyme disease?” could be in paragraph form.
- If you’re competing against another site for an answer box, Google will favor the most accurate and complete content. Make sure that’s your answer.
Don’t get overwhelmed at the idea of creating a brand-new content library with this strategy in mind. You may already have a head start with existing content in a blog, FAQ section of your website or even services pages of your website. Look for ways to remodel your existing content for Google answer boxes.
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