We have recently launched a new feature, which allows you to track Direct Answers for quick traffic wins!

There is a great analogy on Search Engine Land that compares Google’s Direct Answers to the annoying kid in the front of the classroom raising his hand to every question the teacher asks. This is quite fitting as Google is now providing answers to many different types of search queries directly within its SERPs. This information is often sufficient enough for the user to carry on with their next query or leave altogether. There is rarely a direct answer from Google that doesn’t satisfy a users’ immediate query. In other words, it would be unlikely that the user would have to re-search or click through to a website to find the answer they are looking for.

Direct Answers are displayed prominently at the top of the SERPs below the top ads, at organic position 0. For this reason it’s a great branding and traffic opportunity for SEOs to go after, especially now with the addition of Direct Answer tracking in our Universal Rankings module.

We are now tracking 3 variations of Direct Answers. Below is an example of a list version:

Direct Answers

This Direct Answer gives the user the exact recipe he/she needs, in a step-by-step format, to make his/her delicious rusks, without having to leave the search results.

The next example is that of a paragraph-style Direct Answer for knitting your own Christmas Stocking, for those of you feeling the festive season:

Direct Answer Paragraph - Christmas Stocking

The last example is a Direct Answer in table format, most commonly used for comparisons (note the four Paid Ads above it):

Table Direct Answers

These Direct Answers give the user information they were searching for instantaneously. If the user requires a bit more information in relation to the given query, they can then click through to the site to retrieve this, but more often than not, the answer Google provides is sufficient. The figure above illustrates another point very clearly, that SEOs need to consider. As you can see, Direct Answers and Paid Ads take up a lot of the SERPs real estate, therefore pushing organic results further down the page, and in some cases, below the fold. In other words, a user will have to scroll down to see them.

This makes it even more important for SEOs to monitor Direct Answers because if their competitors are featured, they would then lose a large portion of that traffic.

With this new feature you now have the chance to identify competing pages ranking for one or more of your keywords, find which pages have the greatest search volume from their ranking keywords, assess competitiveness (via Majestic) and target the weakest competitors by creating a better page. For example, one that is mobile friendly, fast and has structured data and great content!

Within the platform, if you navigate your way to the Universal Rankings module within the Keywords section, you will see an additional two boxes with data added at the top of the page: Direct Answers and Paid Ads (this is also a new feature which will be touched on later). In the example below, you will see that 66 of this clients’ monitored keywords generate Direct Answers. If there is a “1” displayed in the Direct Answer Rank column, then this keyword triggers a Direct Answer which you are currently ranking number 1 for (there is of course only 1 Direct Answer today but who knows whether Google will test or add more in the future, I could certainly envisage an implementation of the Carousel here which would allow users to cycle through a few really good answers).

You are also able to see your ranking URL and the Universal Order in the next two columns. The Universal Order lists the order of items of the first page of the SERPs. If there is  “>100” within the Direct Answer Rank column, this means that one of your competitors rank for this particular monitored keyword as a Direct Answer, and you can also view their ranking URL in the subsequent Top Ranking URL column. “N/A” means there is no Direct Answer result for this particular keyword today – but if you can see that there are a number of related keywords generating Direct Answers then this could give you content creation and page optimisation ideas to act upon.

Direct Answers

Another feature within our platform is that of Paid Ads tracking. In the example below, you can see that this client generates paid ad results for 113 of their monitored keywords. In addition to this, these top 5 keywords listed, also generate Direct Answer results. For such keywords, if your competitor is ranking for both Paid and Direct Answer results, you might want to consider, alongside improving existing organic rankings, optimising in order to rank for those Direct Answer terms.

Paid Ads

These two new features are a great addition to an already robust Universal Rankings module within the platform. Please do let us know how these features will help you and what you think of them, in the comments section below. If you are interested in taking a closer look at any aspect of the platform, why don’t you get in touch or arrange a demo here.