Google began using links in their Google Answers boxes to related content in November 2014. The Google Answer boxes themselves are designed to provide users with the answer to their query quickly, without having to trawl through websites for a credible answer. This helps improve user experience, since often users simply want a short and fast answer. These links, however, only linked to Google content.
Last week, this seems to have changed and now Google are also showing links to third-party sites. This was noticed by Brent Nau, who posted the search results for “wordpress download”, which had a blue link to the WordPress website inviting users to ‘Go to download’.
Search Engine Land then reported that it works for other queries such as “quickbooks install”. Interestingly, they also reported that the new feature works like the ‘roll a dice’ easter egg in that the new link can generate more results. For example, Search Engine Land report that a search for ‘love quotes’ produces a Google Answers box containing a quote with the link ‘try again’. Clicking the link then produces another love quote and so on.
This is presumably good news for publishers, as they may now see users clicking through to their site from a Google Answers box. Recently there has been worry that Google’s Answers box would stop users clicking through to publisher’s websites since the answer is provided for them on the SERP. The concern is that this will lead to publishers not seeing as much traffic as they might without the feature. Now, however, Google seem to have provided a convenient link for users to click through to the original source.
It is not yet clear how it is decided who gets the link, or whether the feature is automated, but it does seem like Google are making some effort to ensure publishers are not harmed by Google’s Answer boxes.
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