Shortly after Thanksgiving of 2017 Google made several tweaks to their search engine results pages. One of those changes was “Top Answer” showing up in search results when forums have a voting system in place. The feature has come and gone for some time but as of April 2018 I have been seeing it more and more in search results from popular forums such as reddit, Stack Exchange, Stack Overflow, Quora and similar sites.

This is what the “answer cards” look like:

Example 1

And here’s another different type:

Example 2

How do I get a “Top answer” in SERPs?

Anything which takes up this much real estate in search results immediately catches my attention. I almost want to slap a little forum onto my site right now to experiment with this. But… I’m not going to.

All of the sites that Google has been pulling top answers from use structured data, or, more specifically, acceptedAnswer markup.

Which forum software supports Schema?

At this point in time I’m not sure if any forums support Schema Markup right out of the box or not. I did a quick search but I’m not seeing anything for PHP forums such as phpBB, MyBB or vBulletin without modification. WordPress has some forum plugins such as bbPressm BuddyPress and CM Answers but who knows how these work.

What do you think about the new “top answers” SERP feature?

I personally think these are kind of interesting. It just goes to show how much content has yet to be created out there by an authoritative resource if Google is giving this much attention to forum answers.

Historically, forums are a TERRIBLE place to seek advice, however, good advice can indeed be found on some of them from time to time, especially if there is a solid upvote/downvote system in place. Of course, this is all very easy to manipulate.

I rarely predict this, but I believe at some point this is a feature which may very well go the way of the dodo bird.


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