The days when improving your Google ranking was strictly about achieving a good position in the main result field are long over.
Additional features like People Also Ask (PAA) are now regular fixtures on many SERPs. And, of course, more ways to add value to a search query mean more factors to consider when you’re putting together your SEO campaign.
But what is People Also Ask really all about? How important is it to include it in your SEO strategy, is it worth trying to rank for it, and what are the best ways to give it a try?
Here’s a closer look at everything you need to know.
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What is the “Google’s People Also Ask” Box?
First launched around 2015, Google’s People Also Ask (PAA) box is one of several interactive SERP features that may appear as part of a particular search result.
It showcases several additional questions related to the original search query, the better to help the user find as much helpful information on their topic as possible.
Each of the answers in a PAA box comes from a user-generated web page, just like the results in the main SERP listing.
Each answer snippet also contains a clickable link to the original source for those interested in seeing more information related to that specific answer.
Important Details to Know About “People Also Ask” Boxes
Like many of Google’s newer SERP features, People Also Ask is equal parts helpful and fascinating. And for digital marketers and SEO specialists looking to maximize their options, it’s also a little mysterious.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind about PAA boxes as you consider ways to factor them into your current and future SEO strategies.
They can appear anywhere on a SERP.
Although PAA boxes don’t appear on every SERP, they do appear on nearly half of them – roughly 43%. However, unlike many other SERP features, they don’t necessarily appear in the same position every single time.
For instance, it may appear as high as the second or third position in some searches but not until the tenth on another. PAA boxes have even been known to appear on SERP pages other than the first.
Their answers come in various formats.
Many Google SERP features can populate with multiple types of content, and People Also Ask can sometimes be one of them.
The most common PAA results are text-based, often containing helpful features like bulleted lists. However, they’ve also been known to include tables, graphics, and even videos – anything that could prove useful to the searcher.
PAA questions appear to endlessly populate.
Once a particular set of People Also Ask answers is clicked and expanded, Google will repopulate the list with new ones. Do the same thing again, and you’ll receive yet another set of questions and corresponding answers.
This can be done repeatedly to explore limitless amounts of related information on a topic without performing a new search.
Questions appear to use the same answers consistently.
Although you might see the same People Also Ask question appear on several different SERPs, Google seems to select the same answer source each time.
Some PAA questions have also been known to appear in featured snippets, sometimes within the same Google search.
Imagine the possibilities if Google decided your website’s answer was the best possible fit for a PAA question!
7 Best Tips for Ranking on Google’s People Also Ask
Although no one really knows for sure how much of an impact ranking for People Also Ask will have on a given website’s SEO campaign, there are clear benefits attached to trying.
If Google decides a particular site is a good authority source on a topic, that site could wind up prominently displayed across numerous SERPs thanks to PAA and similar features.
Here’s how to improve your chances of ranking.
1. Carefully choose your topic.
The whole point of ranking for the People Also Ask box is to help those looking for precisely the solutions you offer to find you in the first place.
So choose your topic and target keywords with care, just as you would for any other aspect of your content creation campaign.
What questions can you answer for your customers that your competitors aren’t addressing? Have you seen questions in the PAA box that seem like terrific fits for your brand or website?
Which topic ideas are ideal fits for the keywords and key phrases you’re already targeting across the rest of your SEO campaign?
2. Write content that includes questions and answers.
Format matters when it comes to ranking for People Also Ask, so keep that in mind as you craft your content.
Create blog posts and standalone pages (such as FAQ pages) that include questions followed by relevant, helpful answers similar to those you’d expect to see in a PAA box.
Make sure you also:
- Express the answers to your questions clearly and concisely using everyday language that’s easy for any user to understand.
- Make sure your answers are factual and 100 percent on-topic.
- Don’t use language or phrasing that’s promotional or salesy.
3. Compile a list of popular PAA questions.
Remember, Google typically seems to select the same source for a particular People Also Ask snippet. If that question is popular enough and relevant to enough different search queries, that could add up to a lot of traffic for the website credited as the source.
Use the PAA box to compile a list of particularly common questions related to essential search queries and a few alternatives that often appear in conjunction with them. Consider the answers to those questions and similar ones.
Then brainstorm ways to create content that answers related questions in even clearer, better ways. (The PAA box can be a terrific source for content ideas in this way.)
4. Pay attention to your headlines.
Before you can encourage Google to select your content as the best possible answer for a popular PAA question, you need to make sure it’s easy for crawl bots to understand.
Do this the same way you’d do it for a human user – by crafting descriptive headlines that contain well-chosen keywords.
Ensure the rest of that piece of content is just as easy to understand by using equally descriptive headings and subheadings to break it up and organize it.
Google loves content formatted this way, as it’s very user-friendly.
5. Start simple before going deeper.
When crafting content designed to rank for People Also Ask, arrange it so that it’s a shoo-in for the PAA box. Start with a simple intro paragraph to your topic that’s only a couple of sentences long.
Make sure that intro quickly covers the basics of the information you’ll be covering. Then use the following paragraphs to dive deeper in a way that could really help someone who was searching for information about that topic.
For instance, if you’re crafting potential authority content that answers the question, “Is car detailing profitable?” your intro should concisely tell a searcher how much they could expect to make if they went into car detailing.
Then flesh out the rest of your content by addressing additional concerns someone asking that question might have.
6. Make sure you’re covering all the essential questions.
Although some content creators do often decide to set their content up like an FAQ session, you don’t necessarily need to do that yourself to rank for the People Also Ask box.
Google’s algorithm is brilliant these days, so it knows how to scan your content for relevance on its own.
Don’t focus on a potential PAA ranking so intently that you’re writing unnaturally. But do try to make sure you’re covering all of the essential questions a visitor might have.
The better a job you do of thoroughly addressing potential search intent, the more likely your content will be chosen as an authority source.
When in doubt, consult the PAA box directly to make sure you’re covering the essentials.
7. Create how-to guides consisting of simple, logical steps.
How-to guides make incredible content choices for SEO-conscious marketers looking to rank for any portion of a SERP. They help consumers make purchasing decisions, learn how to get more out of purchases they’ve already made, and discover additional topics that speak to their interests.
They’re also great ways to potentially rank for People Also Ask, as “how-to” questions and answers make frequent appearances.
Great how-to content consists of short, straightforward steps that are easy to visualize and follow. It also helps to organize them into numbered lists, as Google tends to favor this format.
3 Tools to Help You Rank in People Also Ask
While it is completely possible to use Google’s People Also Ask tool to identify content ideas that can generate large amounts of traffic, you may also want to expand your search a bit.
Here is a look at three tools that will help you rank in People Also Ask.
Tool #1: Google Trends
Google Trends is a free tool that will give you a look at the data that is behind the PAA boxes. You can use this tool to determine the level of interest that exists for certain queries, whether they are evergreen or seasonal topics and many other factors.
Basically, Google Trends shows you what people around the world are thinking and searching for at a specific time. There is an option to view Trending Searches (top news), Realtime Search Trends (emerging trends), and Daily Search Trends (top 20 searches).
Ideally, you want to maintain your focus on keywords that are currently attracting the interest of people around the world. Enter your keyword and assess the graph that shows interest over time.
This feature of Google Trends lets you check your existing keywords and whether they’re still relevant and validate new keywords that you’re considering targeting.
Tool #2: SEMRush – Position Tracking
Position Tracking is a tool inside SEMRush that provides you with a broader look at the SERPs based on the keywords you’re targeting.
The information you obtain from Position Tracking will allow you to make a well-informed decision about whether to proceed with focusing on a particular keyword and trying to win the SERP feature or whether you should hold out for other keywords.
Position Tracking will allow you to identify the keywords that may trigger a SERP feature, the type of SERP feature that your keywords may trigger if a website is already present in a particular SERP feature, and the actual SERP for a given keyword.
When you use this tool, select whether the results should include Top Stories and Local Pack features with the Rank Count filter. Next, check the SERP Features column within the Overview and Rankings reports. This column tells you which SERP features are triggered based on the keywords you are targeting.
Tool #3: AlsoAsked.com
When you need some inspiration for content creation, the AlsoAsked tool can be beneficial. This tool automatically shows PAA (People Also Ask) data from Google, including a look at the results that appear once a question is clicked on.
You can use this tool to search for ideas surrounding certain keywords, and you have the option to receive SERP copies with generated PAAs for the given keyword.
Basically, this tool is going to provide you with content and headline ideas for questions and phrases that could potentially trigger a PAA table. Just make sure to select the People Also Ask feature to get the most benefit out of this tool.
Bring Your SEO Strategy Up to Date with a Maturity Assessment
As SERP features like People Also Ask have proven, Google is constantly changing, evolving, and looking for additional ways it can provide even more value for its users. That means digital-age business owners and marketers really need to stay on their toes.
An SEO strategy isn’t something to come up with just once. It’s something that should perpetually change right alongside the search engines themselves.
Find out how current and mature your SEO strategy is by taking our short maturity assessment for some key insights.
You’ll learn what your strategy’s strengths are, identify critical weak areas to work on, and identify essential ways you can take your entire strategy to the next level. Get started now!