As a search marketer and (somewhat) decent human being, there’s something that’s been bothering me over the last few weeks, and even more so as reports are coming out that Google answer box results are now up more than ever. It’s the fact that Google claims they’re providing users with direct answers in SERPs to enhance the overall UX, however, for results that you would think actually need an answer box, I’m not finding the information displaying and it’s unsettling to me. Let’s take a look.
Here’s an example for the query “call suicide hotline”
As you can see, no answer box is being displayed. Granted, when you search the query “suicide hotline” you will see the result below. I find it odd that the query with a clear action item of “call” isn’t populating the same result.
Similarly, here’s the SERP for the query “domestic violence hotline”. This result also lacks an answer box with a number to call. Even when adding the action item “call”, still no answer box displays.
If that’s not bad enough, let’s look at a couple of more examples. Here’s the query “call mcdonalds” and how it’s displayed in the SERP.
Here’s the result for “call taco bell”.
Something else that I find unsettling about this is that the answer boxes and text for the fast food customer service examples are significantly larger than that of the suicide hotline result. Here’s how the two results are displayed side by side.
It’s good to know that if we have a problem with our tacos that we can clearly call Taco Bell customer service. Let’s just hope someone doesn’t choke on their Cheesy Double Beef Burrito, because if someone searches for “cpr instructions” to help, they’re not going to find what they need in the answer box.
While we’re all in this business to make money and hit whatever KPI goals we set out to achieve, maybe we need to take a step back and remember what’s important along with user intent. Instead of the motto “don’t be evil”, maybe Google should focus on providing answers that do more good.
What are your thoughts? Are there examples of queries you believe should have an answer box displayed? If so, leave a message in the comment section below.
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