Part of the Google user experience crusade is to provide quick and reliable answers that users seek within as few clicks as possible.
In fact, while pursuing that goal, the search engine started to depart from its service as a liaison between users and websites. As a result, it evolved into something different – a last-stop source of knowledge.
To facilitate this, Google has developed SERP features such as featured snippets, the People Also Ask box, knowledge panels, local packs, and knowledge cards that allow people to find the information they are looking for without having to leave the platform.
SEO experts and website owners have mixed feelings about these features because, in them, Google uses a website’s content without delivering the organic traffic a regular search result might have.
Still, ranking in some of these special results can have SEO benefits.
In this article, we’ll be talking about what makes the “People Also Ask” box one of the most prominent SERP features, and highlight how to optimize it properly so that your content can rank better.
Let’s delve into it!
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What Are “People Also Ask” Boxes?
“People also ask” (PAA) is a Google SERP feature that provides answers to commonly searched questions. It appears in different positions across the first and second page of search results. However, more often than not, it shows up somewhere between positions 1 and 4.
According to a recent study, PAA boxes could appear on over 80% of search results, depending on how and if a website optimized their content for them.
The box usually features between 3 and 8 questions. Clicking on one automatically triggers newly related questions below the one the user interacts with.
More often than not, People Also Ask results are triggered by more general keywords where it is, potentially, unclear what the user is looking for, and/or there could be more than one meaning to their search.
In these cases, Google offers the PAA box to improve SERPs and help users refine their queries, so they can fulfill their goals and be satisfied with their search results.
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What Types of Content Go in the “People Also Ask” Box?
More often than not, the content in the People Also Ask box is a paragraph of text. The length of the text depends on the nature of the query and the pertinent question, but, on average, the answers are around 45 words, and rarely exceed 100.
Aside from paragraphs, similar to featured snippets, PAA content can include videos, tables, and lists.
What type of content Google will choose to show depends on the question. Also, it is based on the content available on the pages that rank for related keywords.
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Where Do the Answers In “People Also Ask” Come From?
Another similarity with featured snippets is that the answers in the People Also Ask are pulled from pages that rank for related search terms and include properly optimized relevant content.
However, unlike featured snippets, to show up in the PAA box, the pages don’t need to rank on the first page of Google. They may be from page two, or, occasionally, even three, as long as they feature high-quality relevant information.
Furthermore, currently, a question can show up in the search results for different queries. However, the answer is always associated with the same page.
So, once you manage to rank for a PAA question, your page becomes bound to it all across the SERPs. That’s the case until another page outranks you.
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Why Should You Care About Ranking in “People Also Ask” Boxes?
The value of ranking in SERP features that don’t encourage clicks is a controversial topic in SEO. This is true for “People Also Ask”, too.
After all, is the optimization worth it, if Google reaps the benefits of your hard work, and you don’t even obtain the organic traffic?
In fact, more often than not, it is – because there is more to building a SERP presence than just the traffic:
Strengthen Branded Searches
Dominating the SERPs for your branded keywords is important. And while this is not difficult to accomplish when it comes to general branded search terms, it’s more challenging with questions.
Answers to questions about your brand can be pulled from competitor pages, user reviews, and all kinds of unreliable content. Due to this, Google can unintentionally spread false information about you or your brand.
By answering these questions yourself, you ensure that your image and reputation stay intact and that your customers find all the information they need.
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Take Over SERP Estate
Pages that rank on the second and even the third page of search results can rank in PAA results. For businesses, this means that even if their content is not a top performer, they can still obtain first-page SERP estate.
As mentioned, when your answers become associated with a question, they may show up in the results for all kinds of relevant queries and, thus, lead to more impressions and opportunities.
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Boost SEO Branding
When a user clicks on a PAA question and sees your content, even if they don’t click on it, they’ll still become exposed to your domain and brand name.
The more often they see you in different search results and features, the more familiar they become with your brand.
Also, there’s a certain prestige associated with Google’s special results that’ll make you stand out, and make a good impression.
If your website is associated with many of the relevant PAA questions that the user comes across, they may see this as a validation of your expertise.
This can, potentially, boost your SEO branding and awareness, and make your company seem more trustworthy.
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Even if “People Also Ask” questions don’t bring in a lot of traffic, they still may lead to the occasional click. This means that the more questions you rank for, the more traffic you are likely to obtain.
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How to Optimize for People Also Ask
- Find Relevant Question Keywords
- Provide Answers to Relevant Common Questions
- Feature the Answers on the Right Pages
- Format Your Questions and Answers Properly
- Keep the Answers Concise and To-The-Point
- Consider Optimizing with Questions-Answer Schema Markup
- Create a FAQ Page to Answer Brand-Related Questions
- Add FAQs to Your Google My Business Profile
1. Find Relevant Question Keywords
You should research question keywords associated with the more general search terms and topics relevant to your brand and industry.
You can use your SEO tools to find such questions. This way, you will see if you already have content that provides the necessary answers.
Furthermore, there is a tool called AlsoAsk that pulls data directly from Google and shows you not only what questions will appear for different searches, but also the relationships between topics.
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2. Provide Answers to Relevant Common Questions
Once you group your keywords and questions, you should publish content to provide answers or optimize your existing relevant pages.
This way, you will likely rank in the People Also Ask box. Also, your content will become more exhaustive and meaningful. This way, you will provide more value to users.
The more valuable your content is, the more likely it is to rank higher in the SERPs, which additionally boosts your chances of showing up in relevant features.
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3. Feature the Answers on the Right Pages
If you already have pages that touch upon the topics you’d like to be featured on in PAA, update them accordingly.
Chances are, these pages already rank well. So, optimizing them with eligible People Also Ask content, may not only allow you to be featured in the questions but may boost the overall performance of the pages.
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4. Format Your Questions and Answers Properly
For Google to find and understand your answers more easily, you should properly format them.
This means that, on your page, you need to write the question (ideally as an H-title) directly followed by the answer.
However, the question on your page doesn’t have to be phrased exactly like the keyword and/or the question in the box. Even with small variations, you still have a chance to rank.
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5. Keep the Answers Concise and To-The-Point
As mentioned, the answers in the PAA box are usually concise, terse, and accurate. The length of the answer, of course, depends on the question. Sometimes a single word can be enough, while other times, you need to explain it in more detail.
If you have a complex explanation, condense the essence in the first paragraph. Then, elaborate further in the rest of the text.
This way, the algorithm can pull the information it needs. To learn more, users are more likely to click on your link for further reading.
However, make sure that the information in the main paragraph is not misleading, as this can have the opposite effect.
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6. Consider Optimizing with Question-Answer Schema Markup
While, more often than not, questions and answers are obvious to people, it’s not always the same with robots.
To ensure Google understands you have a question and answer in place, optimize the content with proper schema markup.
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7. Create a FAQ Page to Answer Brand-Related Questions
A FAQ page is a great way to own brand-related questions.
To boost your rankings, optimize the questions with the keywords you’ve discovered in your research. Then, provide clear and concise answers.
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8. Add FAQs to Your Google My Business Profile
Your Google My Business profile has the option to feature answers to popular questions. This is another opportunity to rank in the PAA box and present all relevant info in one place.
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For website owners, Google’s People Also Ask box is one of the most prominent SERP features. It allows them to not only gain first-page SERP real estate, but to boost their branding, awareness, and authority.
By answering popular, relevant questions and tweaking your content to match them, you improve your search engine rankings.
Furthermore, while researching pertinent information, you may learn a lot. For example, you get insights into your prospects’ preferences, and can better understand their search habits and needs.
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