Don’t trust Google to structure your local data
As Google increasingly incorporates direct answers and other types of featured snippets into search results pages, columnist Andrew Shotland points out that businesses may want to get smarter about marking up their pages.
I have been noticing a lot of Google Answer Boxes showing up for queries with local intent these days. My recent post, Are You Doing Local Answers SEO? pointed out this fantastic result HomeAdvisor is getting for “replace furnace” queries:
When clients get these local answer boxes, they often perform significantly better than regular #1 organic listings. In our opinion, these seem to be driven primarily by the following factors:
- Domain/page authority
- Text that appears to answer the query
- Easy-to-understand page structures (broken up into sections that target specific queries, tables, prices and so on). Schema is not necessary here, but it helps.
For more of a deep dive on how these work, see Mark Traphagen’s excellent summary of last year’s SMX West panel on The Growth of Answers SEO.
But I am not here to talk about how great answer boxes are. I am here to talk about this result that recently popped up for “university of illinois apartments”:
At first glance, you might think this was a basic list of apartments for rent near the university. But if you look closer at the grid of data, you will see that it looks more like part of a calendar, which is pretty useless.
Many searchers may look past this and just click on the link, but this got me thinking that I really don’t want Google controlling what parts of my site get shown in the SERPs, particularly when it looks more like a Lack of Knowledge Box.