Every company wants to land on the first page of results when people search Google. It's why businesses invest so much--more than $65 billion--on search engine optimization (SEO) consultants, agencies and technology vendors. But today, landing on page one isn't enough. That's according to Mitul Gandhi, chief architect and cofounder of seoClarity, an SEO and insights technology company. Today, he says you want your company to appear in Google's Answer Box, the framed answer that appears at the top of many search results. Not only is the Answer Box the most prevalent result on web and mobile, but in voice search, it's typically the answer. Accounting for 20 percent of the search market today, voice search is growing thanks to Siri, Alexa and devices like Google Home or Android's Google Assistant. Here are Gandhi's words on how you can increase your chances of landing inside Google's Answer Box.

1. Think local.

More than 43 percent of all searches are for local results such as restaurants or pet stores near me. The first step to moving to the top of search is updating local listings like "Google My Business," managing reviews, adding photos, and updating store hours, the website and directions. Half of people who find a local store through mobile search visit that store within a day, so there is a large incentive to stay on top of these and make sure that the information presents your business in the best light.

2. Be mobile.

Chances are, you're reading this article on your phone. But is your company's website mobile-ready? More than 60 percent of customers search on mobile devices, so your site should be as easy to read on an iPhone as it is on your computer. And because Google is focused on delivering the best search experience, its algorithms favor mobile-friendly sites that load quickly with easy navigation.

3. Solve a problem.

Most searches aim to find a solution to a problem, whether it's knowing how to get a stain out of those brand-new pants or finding where to buy new ones when that club soda trick just doesn't work. Customers return to companies that help them solve problems. If you provide them with content on how to get that stain out of those pants you sold them, your customers will be happy. Plus, Google rewards website content that is authoritative and complete, and that can help the searcher solve a problem.

4. Focus on your customer's vernacular.

You need to know how your customer finds you. After all, they may not use the same wording you do. With voice search changing the game even more, searchers are increasingly getting more and more specific. Instead of using just a keyword or two, customers will likely search "distressed blue jeans with a boot cut opening" rather than simply "blue jeans."

5. Track progress.

You are never done when it comes to optimizing a website. Just like you track how your business is doing, you need to track which content of yours Google rewards and how that impacts your site traffic, lead generation and sales.

Google is constantly changing its algorithm, but if you focus on your customer, you'll always have success in becoming the single answer.

Published on: Jul 19, 2017