I was pretty psyched a few months back when Glenn Gabe published some research showing that WordStream is “the king of featured snippets,” ranking in more featured snippets (AKA position zero) than any other marketing site he analyzed. (However, since I manage our SEO and content marketing and not Larry Kim, I think that should be “queen of featured snippets.” Ahem.)
I’ve already shared some tips with you for ranking in Google’s featured snippet, the first of which is to target complex question queries rather than simple queries that can be answered by Wikipedia or by Google itself – see the query below where Google anticipated a weather search and showed me the weather forecast right from the browser search bar in Chrome!
Here’s the reason you should target complex questions: Anyone can answer an easy question, but by providing smart answers to hard questions, better than anyone else on the SERP, you position yourself as an expert that your site visitors can trust. That means those visitors are more likely to come back for more, and more likely to convert. And happy visitors send good engagement signals to Google, which helps your content rank even higher. Positive feedback loop FTW!
Over the years, we’ve targeted many different question keywords on our blog, and some of this content has enormous evergreen value to our business. Below, I’ve identified ten types of question keywords – think of them as question-answering content templates – that can work for any type of business to drive tons of high-quality traffic. I’ve also included some tips for finding more question-based keywords, and optimizing your content to rank for questions.
Even people who think they’re hot sh*t like to get confirmation that it’s really the case. So we’re constantly looking for data and information that can tell us if what we hope and suspect – or, in some cases, fear – is true.
A perfect example of this is people searching for salary information – they want to know if they’re underpaid and underappreciated, or, if they are managers, they want to confirm that they’re not underpaying their underlings.
In our industry, marketing, people are always looking for advertising benchmarks, asking questions like “What’s a good click-through rate?” and “What’s a good conversion rate?” Since these are complicated questions, we provide complicated answers based on real data. This post, which provides benchmarks and averages for Google Ads CTR, conversion rate, cost per click and cost per action across 20 different industries, gets several thousand visits a WEEK and drives tons of leads, too!
Once you’ve provided an answer to question type #1, you can go one step further and tell your audience how to increase, improve, or reduce that benchmark. Obviously, once someone finds out that they’re not performing quite up to snuff, they’re going to need advice on how to get better.
As always, remember to provide deep, actionable advice that’s better than what’s already out there. Give people a reason to click on your site instead of one of those dumb wikiHow articles.
Wow, no wonder I’ve got insomnia! I’ve been trying to sleep standing up in a full tux.
One of our oldest blog posts that still gets a ton of traffic is called “How to Find Anyone’s Email Address.” Whatever your industry, you should be able to identify things that your target audience is looking for. Even if you don’t sell exactly what they’re looking for, helping them find what they need is going to create goodwill and good branding.
People love learning! OK, maybe not all of them do – but too bad for them, they have to learn stuff anyway to get a job!
People also love to get stuff for free, so they’re always looking for free or cheap online courses, tutorials, etc. to improve their knowledge and make them more marketable.
What’s in it for you? Again, providing a free resource increases trust in your brand. You can also soft-sell visitors on a relevant, gated offer as a way to generate leads. And if you offer a paid version of what they’re looking for, hopefully they come back your way if the free resources out there don’t meet their needs.
It’s very common for to do research before you buy so you can be confident that your money will be well-spent. In fact, 81% of retail shoppers and 94% of B2B shoppers do research before they buy.
You’re unlikely to rank on a keyword like “best portable grills” with a product page – aside from ads, the top spots are all articles on review or food sites. These are great keywords to go after with unbiased reviews of your favorite products.
As noted above, questions of this type are going to be most worth your while as a marketer if they’re not easy to answer. “How much does a flashlight cost” is not a very complex or interesting question (about $10 though, if you’re curious).
Take instead a layered question like “How much does Google Ads cost?” The answer depends on a lot of different variables and factors, which is why we dug in to answer this question with a long-form post and lots of visuals and data. This post, which ranks in the coveted featured snippet, got over 150,000 visits in the past year alone!
Another post from our blog that gets tons of traffic and tons of links and has been doing so for years: “What’s the best time to send email newsletters?”
This is another example of a complex question format, and if you happen to have access to unique data or can do the research that no one else has bothered to do, you can provide a ton of value to a ton of people.
Tell a man the best time to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime
Writing is one of those things that seems easy but is pretty hard to do well, like making tacos. (I say this as a native Texan who lived in Boston for ten years.)
This question keyword type might not apply to every industry, but it will apply to a lot of them, because it’s hard to escape the need to write things, from cover letters to social media updates to thank-you notes.
Very similar to the “how to write X” and “how to learn X” question keywords from above. This variation is for people who are looking to get better at a particular job or life skill. Because nobody’s perfect.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it once more, with feeling: X vs. Y type keywords are most worth your while if they’re somewhat complex. I assure you, someone else has already posted a couple of pictures on the internet showing the difference between a crocodile and an alligator.
If you’re looking to improve your alligator-spotting skills
But sometimes the differences between two complex concepts are a little more subtle. Or, people may be looking to figure out which of two options is better (for example, two competing software offerings or two different approaches to solving a problem), in which case a detailed review and comparison would be in order, with data to back up your assertions if possible.
If the above list hasn’t already sparked plenty of content ideas for you, see below for ways to find specific question keywords to target.
Here are a few quick SEO and content strategy tips for making sure your content can actually rank for the keywords you’re targeting:
That’s it! Sayonara!
Elisa Gabbert is WordStream’s Director of Content and SEO. Likes include wine, karaoke, poker, ping-pong, perfume, and poetry.
See other posts by Elisa Gabbert
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