How to Optimize for ‘People Also Ask’ in Google

GrowByData
How to Optimize for ‘People Also Ask’ in Google
Ramesh Karki | February 9, 2022
|READ 18 MIN
Optimize for People Also Ask on Google feature image

The world of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) has changed significantly resulting in a change in marketers’ approach to content. The People Also Ask (PAA) feature is an addition to the SERP that has further intrigued digital marketers. The position of the Google People Also Ask (PAA) feature as an important aspect of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and content strategy has increased drastically over the past few years. The PAA feature has become more prevalent and based on our data, over 80% of the search queries on the Google SERP had PAA.

SERP feature Frequency

In this article, we will talk about how you can optimize for PAA (People Also Ask) to enhance your site’s reach and increase visibility in Google along with the prominence of PAA boxes to help you optimize your content and maximize your People Also Ask SEO opportunity.

What is People Also Ask?

PAA (People Also Ask) is a dynamic Google SERP feature that answers the list of questions closely related to the searcher’s intent and quickly displays additional information to users from their initial search query. PAA listings give you an insight into what people are searching for. Google provides a clickable link to the source below each answer that comes from a relevant web page. They could be paragraphs of text, bullet points, or even videos. The People Also Ask questions are generated because of a combination of Google’s algorithm, user queries, links to search topics, and various other metrics that pull relevant questions and their answers from web pages.

Where do PAA boxes appear on the Google SERP?

Analyzing the Google SERP data from Apparel & Accessories-related keywords, we saw over 85% of the PAA result appears within the top 3 results, making it one of the most consistent and visible search features as shown on the graph below. This feature takes up extremely valuable real estate on the Google SERP. But the position of the PAA is not fixed and it can appear in several different positions on the SERP.

Above and Below the Fold SERP feature Visibility

Why is People Also Ask important?

People Also Ask helps to secure a long-term position in SERPs and boosts organic traffic for websites pushing the organic search results. People Also Ask results provide further information and answers that may be relevant to the searcher’s query or topic of search. PAA box shown in google is a major part of the SERP and important from an SEO point of view. If your content is PAA-friendly it can result in you holding a place in the PAA box even if your website is not organically ranking in the search results. Some of the reasons why People Also Ask is important are:

1. Increases Top of the Funnel Marketing Reach
2. Avoid Brand Degradation with Better Answers for Branded Queries
3. Improves Organic/Paid Ranking
4. Provides Opportunities to Rank on Featured Snippets
5. Take Advantage of your Competitors

Let’s look at this in more detail.

  • Increase Top of the Funnel Marketing Reach

People that are browsing through the People Also Ask questions are typically in the awareness or research phase of their shopping journey. As a brand, PAA gives you the opportunity to entice your top-of-the-marketing funnel shoppers with informative, concise, and easy-to-understand answers.

  • Avoid Brand Degradation with Better Answers for Branded Queries

Although branded queries have lower search volume, they can make or break the sale depending on the information provided. Branded queries are people that are at the bottom of the marketing funnel. This means they are towards the end of their purchase journey. PAA gives brands the opportunity to make sure they are being represented in the best light by showing up under their branded queries. If there are answers on the PAA boxes besmirch your brand by other parties, then you will potentially lose the customer to a competitor.

  • Improves Organic/Paid Ranking

Unlike Featured Snippet, you can have your site/page rank for a People Also Ask question, as well as a standard organic/paid link on that same SERP. It is obviously great if you can show up on the standard usual result as well as the PAA but, PAA gives opportunities to sites with lower authority to increase their impressions and clicks. Thus, showing up under the People Also Ask SERP feature increases your credibility and trustworthiness to Google improving your probability of ranking higher and building organic traffic.

  • Provides Opportunities to Rank on Featured Snippets

According to Search Engine Land, a Featured Snippet gets approximately 8% of all clicks which shows the high value of this SERP feature. But there is only one Feature Snippet per SERP. Whereas there can be seemingly infinite PAA results on every SERP. The data shows that most of the time, the answers from the feature snippets are taken from the People Also Ask results. Therefore, showing up on the PAA provides more opportunities to rank the Featured Snippets as well.

  • Take Advantage of your Competitors

Your competitors may still be dependent on presumptions and speculations to create content. With the help of PAA questions, you can gain an obvious competitive edge by making data-driven decisions. Search Intelligence can help you spot which of your competitors have a higher/lower visibility on PAA than you as shown on the graph below. The tool also allows you to dive deeper into what types of queries your competition is showing for. This gives you the opportunity to create better and more useful content to dethrone the competition.

PAA competitors vs you

How to optimize for “People Also Ask” boxes?

With the rise of PAA and ever-increasing competition for the spot in SERP features, you need to initiate an applicable action plan for appearing within the PAA box. If you are trying to bring your website to the PAA box, the key steps to follow that will help you in PAA optimization and turn user interactions into actual clicks are:

1. Find PAA Opportunities in SERP
2. Understand your target query and intent
3. Ensure On-Page and content optimization
4. Look for Popular PAA questions to target SERP
5. Add semantic-rich search terms to your content
6. Create FAQ Schema
7. Use Jump links to take viewers immediately to answers

  • Find PAA Opportunities in SERP

Get ahead of your competition and grab the interest of your target audience by being featured as an answer to People Also Ask (PAA) questions. Optimize for relevant questions that show up for lots of keywords with a high combined monthly search volume. It is critical to know if the set of keywords you are targeting has potential for People Also Ask optimization. You need to look at the keywords that trigger PAA questions for which you are not yet listed and evaluate your chances to improve your positioning with Competitive SERP Analytics.

  • Understand your target query and intent

People Also Ask is an exciting feature on the Google SERP. A click on a question automatically generates additional related questions. The questions could dive deeper into the searched query or take you on a different tangent from the initial search query. Google relies heavily on semantics to anticipate the user’s next questions and brings answers that possibly satisfy their needs. You need to focus not only on the keywords but also on the intent of the question. Your SEO techniques should prioritize providing answers with the details that you know are useful and benefit the person asking the question. Providing the best answer that matches the search intent is Google’s main objective and priority.

  • Ensure On-Page and content optimization

You should start optimizing your page content by checking whether the answer to the question is available on your page. Be sure that your answer to a question is detailed and easy to understand to have the best chance at ranking. If your page does not have the answers, you need to add the solution. Answer the questions concisely and leverage the techniques to improve user experience. You can check which format Google expects and adjust the formatting. Messy code can often confuse Google, so using clear headings (H2, H3, etc.), and removing any unnecessary error is important. You should focus on creating structured content as quality and relevance matter a lot when it comes to ranking in PAAs (People Also Ask).

  • Look for Popular PAA questions to target SERP

Find the pages with high-ranking keywords and list the most frequently occurring or popular questions for your page related to high-volume and targeted keywords. If the same question is showing in the PAA box for hundreds or thousands of keywords, then it is potentially worth optimizing for. Understanding the possible question a user may ask after the initial search query and then creating content around those questions is how you optimize for the People Also Ask SERP feature.

Our Search Intelligence can help you learn what type of questions are most frequently asked so that you can quickly optimize your content to increase your visibility on the PAA feature. For example, the table below shows the list of PAA questions that were the top questions that came up regarding a client’s business and the ones that were the most frequently asked questions as well. This helped the client better cater to searchers’ most asked queries and possibly increase their visibility on the PAA feature.

Top People Also Ask questions analysis

  • Add semantic-rich search terms to your content

You can expand your reach to additional questions by adding semantic-rich search terms to your content. It can support your content by providing more depth and context. Google uses Contextual Search to populate its multiple PAA drop-downs. So, you need to figure out which keywords are working, and which ones are not. You can look for which elements are positively affecting each site’s overall organic traffic and organic CTR (Click Through Rate). As part of your keyword research, you can take note of which of your primary keywords are triggering PAAs and query phrases that are useful to answer questions to improve on those that align with your target audience’s queries.

  • Create FAQ Schema

A considerate FAQ helps your web page rank higher and brings organic traffic to your site. You need to logically collect the questions based on search patterns and provide valuable and credible answers to these questions in your website’s FAQ section. You can create interesting features like generating featured snippets by making use of FAQ page schema which increases user engagement with your brand and eventually brings a high volume of traffic to your site. Using the correct schema can help your site’s content get featured in the PAA as well.

  • Use Jump links to take viewers immediately to answers

Creating jump links makes it easier for your site visitors to quickly see the answer that they want. Taking the viewer straight to the specific answer section of the page can improve your bounce rate as well as crawling and indexing. On top of the page, you can create a table of context and each jump-link taking you to the part of the page answering each question.

How does Search Intelligence/SERP Monitoring help in PAA ranking?

SERP Monitoring allows you to monitor each SERP component by search intent, category, regions, etc., and analyze the ad contents winning the top spots. Specifically, PAA can provide you with insights into what type of questions are most popular for a specific search query or a larger category. The search query including terms like ‘where,’ ‘why,’ ‘how,’ etc., significantly increases the possibility of Google displaying video content in the results. The graph below shows the PAA prefix distribution for a financial advisory business. Insights like this let you minimize wasted efforts and resources by making better decisions on what type of questions to focus on. Targeting the right questions and optimizing your answers for that will significantly increase your chances of ranking on PAA.

PAA Prefix Distribution

How can PAA help to improve SEO?

It is the basic concept of any SEO activity to satisfy user intent but with almost 50% of all searches showing People Also Ask results, having a specific strategy for increasing your visibility within these features is crucial. Along with ranking in common PAA boxes, these PAA questions are important for your content and business and can help with SEO. Some of the ways to incorporate PAAs into your SEO strategy are:

  • Generate Better Content Ideas

It is important to understand the intent of the searcher and a search query can return several organic search results and give you a list of questions that might be quite relevant to your content and cover the searchers’ intents. PAA boxes give insight into related things searchers want to know. Incorporating these answers into your content can lead to more in-depth content that better satisfies searcher intent.

  • Get new keywords to target

Many of the questions that show up in PAA boxes rarely seem to have high search volumes. But if you pick up the questions and use them as main queries, you may find websites that rank high with huge traffic. Analyzing those websites will reveal various keywords that they are ranking for. The use of conventional keyword research can reveal those keywords. If you keep expanding to reveal more questions in PAA boxes you can come across questions related to topics and get more and more topics and keyword ideas.

  • Refresh old content

You can use PAA questions to bring back the relevancy of the old content pieces you created and optimized for SEO which is no longer relevant. The PAA questions you find today are the most relevant questions which reflect users’ intent. You can refresh your old content and stay relevant even with your old content by fulfilling those intents.

Conclusion

People Also Ask has become a standard feature in Google SERP and ranking in PAA boxes can undoubtedly boost organic traffic, improve brand awareness, and increase visibility to gain a competitive advantage. You should focus on the ranking of popular keywords and focus on providing valuable content to your users. PAA can help your SEO strategy move forward and if you are willing to spend time understanding how your organic visibility can be influenced by such features PAA can be your friend indeed.

Google might consider PAA a key part of the user journey for the fact that PAAs are now popular for a large portfolio of queries. Now it is high time for you to start optimizing for the SERPs interactive feature-PAA starting today which has taken over the SEO world.

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