CMWorld Interview: Thinking Inside the (Answer) Box with Courtney Cox

CMWorld Interview: Thinking Inside the (Answer) Box with Courtney Cox

Recognizing the magnitude of this topic, Cox will dedicate her session at Content Marketing World to Position 0: Optimizing Your Content to Rank in Google’s Answer Boxes. What does your role as Digital Marketing Manager at Children’s Health entail? Our goal is to provide the best online experience of any pediatric healthcare system in the country. Voice platforms like Google Home rely heavily on the position 0 results to give answers to voice queries from their users. I think most content marketing folks understand that. To ensure our content is high quality and highly relevant to what our customers need, we’ve been using a new technique that starts with the “People Also Ask” questions on Google. Basically, we type in a query we want to rank for, take inventory of the “People Also Ask” questions that appear for that query, and answer those questions directly in our content with the question itself as an H2 on the page. We want answers, and we want them now. I think the thing that has helped me most in my career is that I’ve also been a developer. It helps when you’re requesting the implementation of structured data or Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) that you understand the complexities or at least how much work it will take.

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In a digital marketing career that has spanned numerous roles, often with a heavy focus on SEO, Courtney Cox has watched plenty of trends come and go.

But like many of us, she’s convinced that answer boxes (or “featured snippets,” or “position zero,” as you will) hold the key to search success going forward.

Not only do these “best answer” results attain prime visibility on SERPs, but as voice search continues to grow more prominent, they are likely to become the only result for many user queries within a few years.

Recognizing the magnitude of this topic, Cox will dedicate her session at Content Marketing World to Position 0: Optimizing Your Content to Rank in Google’s Answer Boxes. Drawing from her experience at Children’s Health, where she’s tasked with helping modernize the digital experience in an industry that has been — by her own admission — a little behind the curve, she’ll offer up practical advice for claiming this crucial real estate.

As we eagerly await her afternoon session on September 5th in Cleveland, OH, we had a chance to ask Cox about some pertinent matters relating to her specialization. Here’s what she had to say about data-driven conversion rate optimization, strategizing through competitive analysis, speaking the language of coding as marketers, and more.


What does your role as Digital Marketing Manager at Children’s Health entail? What are your main areas of focus and key priorities?

I have a team of strategists and editors that manages the online experience for our patient families. This includes everything from the user experience of Childrens.com, SEO, paid search, and management of our local listings across the web.

We are currently in a major transition period. Our goal is to provide the best online experience of any pediatric healthcare system in the country. Healthcare as an industry is behind the times, and historically, we have been no exception. As the cost of healthcare goes up, our consumers place more scrutiny on the total value of their experience with our system.

We typically think of that experience beginning when patient families walk through our doors; however, the initial patient experience frequently begins online with a search and ends online with a review. It’s our job to use the digital experience to show the value of our clinical services, reduce the anxiety of our patient families, and provide them with the information they need to make the right decisions for their child.

This year, that means implementing rigorous user testing, redesigning nearly every template on Childrens.com, taking advantage of advanced search tactics such as structured data and accelerated mobile pages, and publishing reviews directly on our website.

What is one thing that most company websites could be doing better when it comes to driving sales and conversions?

Fair warning – I’m going to try not to get on my soapbox about this one, but it’s hard because I feel so passionately about it.

Digital marketers need to abandon the “gut feeling” approach to conversion rate optimization. In the days of expensive usability labs and split-testing software, businesses with limited budgets could be excused from making data-driven, customer-centered optimizations. Those days are over.

If you want to outperform your competitors, you must start listening to your customers and responding to their behavior. If you’re not using free tools like Google Optimize for split testing or one of the infinite number of inexpensive user testing options available, then I guarantee you are failing your customers in some way in which you’re currently unaware.

Moving on to your subject of focus at CMWorld: Aside from the obvious placement benefits, why is it so important to aim for ‘Position 0’ on Google search results?

‘Position 0’ results (aka ‘Featured Snippets’, aka ‘Answer Boxes’) are important for a number of reasons. As you mentioned, prominence at the top of the search engine results page positions your website for…

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