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How To Use the Google “People Also Ask” Feature to Improve SEO And Content Marketing?

Google’s search results have evolved a great deal over the years, and one of the most recent additions is the “People Also Ask” (PAA) feature.

This new feature appears as a box of related questions right below Google’s search results, and it’s designed to give users more information on the topic they’re searching for.

Here’s what the PAA box looks like:

How To Use the Google "People Also Ask" Feature to Improve SEO And Content Marketing?

As you can see, the PAA box contains a list of related questions that Google thinks the user may be interested in.

If you click on one of the questions, it will expand, revealing more information about that topic.

More questions may also appear.

Google pulls the questions in the PAA box from a variety of sources, including:

  • Webpages
  • People Also Search For (PASF) results
  • Google’s Knowledge Graph

Google’s priority is to show the most accurate and relevant results for each query, and the PAA feature is just one way they can do that.

Google introduced the PAA feature in 2015, and has since become a valuable tool for both SEOs and content marketers.

For SEOs, the PAA feature can be used to:

According to Ahrefs’ study, the PAA box appears in ~43% of all searches.

How To Use the Google "People Also Ask" Feature to Improve SEO And Content Marketing?

Growthbydata has the number at 83%.

How To Use the Google "People Also Ask" Feature to Improve SEO And Content Marketing?

Source: https://growbydata.com/how-to-optimize-for-people-also-ask-in-google/

There are two types of questions that can appear in the PAA box:

  • Clarifying Questions: These questions describe or expand the user’s initial query, making it as specific as possible.
  • Follow-up Questions: Follow-up questions are more general and help Google understand the user’s overall intent. These are broader, more open-ended questions that the user may have. They’re a little harder to answer.

For example, if someone searches for “What is SEO?”, a question based on the user’s query would be “What are some common SEO techniques?”.

A question based on the user’s intent would be, “What are the benefits of SEO?.”

How To Use the Google "People Also Ask" Feature to Improve SEO And Content Marketing?

Both of these questions relate to the initial query, but the latter gets at the heart of what the user is trying to learn.

The PAA feature is constantly changing and evolving, so it’s important to keep up with the latest updates.

For example, in December 2017, Google updated the PAA box to show more questions and allow users to filter by topic.

Features of a PAA question:

  • Question Phrase: The question phrase is the part of the question that appears in the PAA box. It’s typically between 3 and 12 words long, and it’s what users will see when they’re scrolling through the PAA box.

Google automatically generates these question phrases and doesn’t necessarily have to pull them out of a webpage.

  • Question Answer: The question is the answer to the question appearing in the PAA box. It’s typically pulled from a webpage.

The question answer is what appears in the expanded PAA box when a user clicks on a question.

  • Article Title: The article title is the webpage’s title in the PAA box. That is different from the question phrase or the actual PAA question.

The question title appears in the expanded PAA box when a user clicks on a question.

  • Question Link: The question link is the webpage URL from which the question answer is pulled. This link appears in the expanded PAA box when a user clicks on a question.
  • Other Questions: The other questions are the questions that appear in the expanded PAA box when a user clicks on a question.

How To Use the Google "People Also Ask" Feature to Improve SEO And Content Marketing?

The content under each question is typically pulled from a different webpage.

Features like this can be a goldmine for content marketers and SEOs.

 


Four Things You Should Know about the PAA Feature

Before we talk about how to optimize for the PAA feature, let’s go over a few things you should know about it.

#1. PAA Boxes Appear in Different SERP Positions

The position of the PAA box on the SERP varies depending on the query.
Unlike featured snippets, which appear above the organic results, the PAA box can appear anywhere on the SERP.

For example, when I search for “SEO tools,” the PAA box appears in the second position of the SERPs.

How To Use the Google "People Also Ask" Feature to Improve SEO And Content Marketing?

This variation is likely due to the different intent behind each query.

“SEO tools” is a transactional query, meaning the user is looking to buy a product.

On the other hand, “What is SEO?” is an informational query, meaning the user is looking to learn about a topic.

How To Use the Google "People Also Ask" Feature to Improve SEO And Content Marketing?

Google has different algorithms for each query type, so it makes sense that the PAA box would appear in different SERP positions.

For “blog post templates,” the PAA box appears even further down, in the sixth position.

For some queries, the PAA may not even appear on the first page of results.

#2. PAA Questions Are Seemingly Infinite

Every time you click on a PAA question, more questions appear at the bottom of the box.

These questions are generated based on related searches and queries.

And they’re seemingly infinite — you can keep clicking, and more questions will keep appearing.

It differs from featured snippets, which only display one answer for each query.

The PAA feature is designed to keep users engaged and on the SERP for as long as possible.

get google ranking ad

It’s also a way for Google to display more relevant information to the user without sending them to a new page.

It’s also a way for Google to display more relevant information to the user without sending them to a new page.

#3. PAA Answers Appear in Various Formats

The answer format in the PAA box depends on the query type.

For some queries, the answer appears as a paragraph of text.

For others, the answer appears as a list.

And for some, the answer appears as an image.

It may even appear as a table, video, or graphic. 

Google determines the format of the answer based on what it thinks will be most beneficial for the user.

#4. PAA Questions Always Trigger the Same Answer

While Google may show the same question across multiple search queries, the question will always trigger the same answer.

That’s because Google links the question to a specific URL.

So, if you click on the question from one SERP, you’ll be taken to the same URL as if you clicked on the question from another SERP.

For example, “What’s the #1 Most Searched thing on Google ever?” always leads to the same answer, regardless of what query triggers it.

This PAA question appears on queries like “Google trends search” and “how many searches does Google get.”

But regardless of which query triggers the question, the answer is always the same.

 


So, Why Is the PAA Box Important?

The PAA box is important for two reasons.

First, it gives you an idea of what questions people are asking about your topic.

This information can be useful for developing new content and improving your SEO. 

For example, if you notice that many people are asking a certain question not addressed on your website, you can create a new blog post or page that addresses that question.

Second, the PAA box is a way to get your content in front of more people. 

If you can get your content to appear in the PAA box, you’ll get more traffic to your website.

Third, being featured in the PA box will also grant your site authority on the topic. 

Google only features content from high-quality websites in the PAA box, so being featured is a good way to show Google (and users) that your website is a credible source of information.

 


Benefits of Ranking in the PAA Box

There are six main benefits of ranking in the PAA box: 

 


How to Optimize Your Content for the PAA Box

There are a few things you can do to optimize your content for the PAA box: 

#1. Write Great Content

This one should be obvious. 

To rank in the PAA box, you need to write great content. 

Your content needs to be well-researched, well-written, and comprehensive. 

It should be the type of content people will want to read, share, and link to. 

Focus on creating value for the reader, and don’t worry about keyword stuffing or other black hat SEO tactics.

Say you’re writing a blog post about “content marketing.”

Some questions you could answer in your post are: 

The idea is to create an authoritative piece that the user will find helpful. The user should be able to take action after reading your post.

You also want to consider what content format will work best for your topic. 

For example, a “list post” might be more effective than a traditional blog post. 

That’s because users are likelier to click on a list post when they see it in the PAA box.

Even more important, tweak your content with an eye toward what will work best in the PAA box. 

That means your title and meta description should be optimized for CTR, and your opening paragraph should answer the question as directly as possible.

#2. Using Online Tools, Scrape PAA Data for Keyword Ideas

Keywords are the foundation of any SEO or content marketing strategy.

Google still relies heavily on keyword data to determine what content to rank in the search results. 

And although Google has become better at understanding user intent, keywords are still an important ranking factor.

To find the right keywords for your content, you must understand what questions people ask about your topic.  

Say the question is “How to Get Started with SEO?”

Some potential keywords you could target are: 

  • SEO Tips 
  • SEO Tutorial 
  • SEO for Beginners 
  • How to Do SEO 
  • SEO Guide

Remember, your goal is to create content that is comprehensive and helpful. That means going beyond the obvious keywords to find the long-tail keywords people are searching for. 

One way to do this is using Google’s “People Also Ask” (PAA) feature.

A few tools you can use to scrape PAA data include: 

To use these tools, simply enter a seed keyword and let the tool do its job. 

You’ll then get a list of questions people are asking about your topic. 

You can choose the questions you want to answer in your content.

#3. Use Question and Answer Schema Markup

Google’s algorithm for PAA follows the Q&A format. 

So, you want to follow that same format in your content. 

One way to do this is by using question and answer schema markup. 

Schema markup is a code you can add to your website that helps Google understand your content better. 

When you use schema markup, you’re essentially “telling” Google what your content is about. 

That should help Google match your content to the right searches. 

You can begin by writing your answers, so they’re relevant to multiple questions. 

For example, let’s say you want to target the questions “What is SEO?” and “What does SEO stand for?” 

Your answer could be something like this: 

“SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of optimizing a website for Google’s search algorithm.” 

Notice how this answer is relevant to both questions. 

You can then use schema markup to “tell” Google that this is a question and answer. 

Here’s an example of what that might look like: 

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Question”> 

<meta itemprop=”name” content=”What is SEO?”/>

<meta itemprop=”acceptedAnswer” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Answer”> 

<meta itemprop=”text” content=”SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of optimizing a website for Google’s search algorithm.”> 

</div> 

You can learn more about schema markup and how to use it here.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when using schema markup: 

  • Make sure your question and answer are relevant to the user’s search query 
  • Use keyword-rich questions and answers 
  • Include links to other helpful resources in your answer 
  • Use a coherent language and answer format that’s easier to understand 
  • Don’t write your answers in long texts: use fewer words instead 
  • Answer in different formats. Where possible, use lists, tables, videos, and images

#4. Select A Few Relevant PAA questions And Optimize Your Content for Them

You can start with the PAA questions you think are most relevant to your topic. 

Once you have a list of questions, it’s time to optimize your content for them. 

Here are a few tips: 

#1. Use The Questions as Your Subheadings 

One way to optimize your content is by using the questions as your subheadings. 

That will help Google understand your content and make it easier for users to find the information they’re looking for. 

It also helps you stay on track as you write your content. 

#2. Use Keywords in Your Subheadings 

Another way to optimize your content is by using keywords in your subheadings. 

 #3. Use Keywords in Your Answers 

When you use keywords in your answers, you’re helping Google understand what your content is about. 

That, in turn, makes it more likely to rank for those keywords. 

However, you do not want to go overboard with this. 

 So, how do you find the PAA questions to answer?

  • Use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer: You can use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to find the PAA questions that your competitors are already ranking for.
  • Use SEMrush Position Tracking to Get an Overview of Existing SERP Features: Equipped with a Tool like SEMrush’s Position Tracking, you can get an overview of which SERP features your competitors are ranking for.

Use filters to choose the PAA feature in particular.

  • Use SEMrush’s Organic Research to identify which keywords you’re already ranking for don’t generate PAA results: In SEMrush’s Organic Research report, you can determine which keywords you already rank for in Google’s top 10 don’t generate PAA results. 

That is valuable because it allows you to focus on fixing this and, as a result, get pages with PAA potential to rank even higher.

  • Make Sure You’re Eligible to Rank in PAA Box: Note that your site cannot rank in the PAA box if it’s not in the top 10 for that particular query. 

The PAA box only displays results from the top 10 positions. 

So, if you want your site to be eligible to rank in the PAA box, you must first work towards ranking it in the top 10 search results for the relevant keywords first.

 


How to use PAA Boxes to Improve Your SEO 

Ranking in PAA boxes can be a great way to improve your SEO. 

The question is: how do you do it? 

Here are a few tips:

#1. Make Better Content 

PAA boxes are all about giving users the best possible answer to their questions. They’re designed to give users the answer they’re looking for without having to click through to a website. 

For content creators, PAA boxes can give great insights into what people want to know about a particular topic. 

By incorporating these questions and answers into your content, you can take a more in-depth look at the questions people are asking and improve your content accordingly. 

For example, if you’re a travel blogger and want to write an article about “The Best Time to Visit Japan,” you can use PAA boxes to get some ideas for what people want to know about this topic.

How To Use the Google "People Also Ask" Feature to Improve SEO And Content Marketing?

These are a list of things that searchers might want to know about this topic:

  • When should you avoid Japan?
  • What is the cheapest month to travel to Japan?
  • What is the best month to visit Tokyo?
  • What is the rainiest month in Japan?

Once you understand what people want to know about your topic, you can start incorporating these questions and answers into your content.

#2. Find the New Keywords to Target 

Most of the questions in the PAA boxes will be long-tail keywords. 

These are more specific keywords that are less competitive and easier to rank for.

For example, look at this query:

How To Use the Google "People Also Ask" Feature to Improve SEO And Content Marketing?

Now take the PAA questions and run them into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. 

That will show you the monthly search volume, difficulty to rank, and many other vital metrics for each keyword.

How To Use the Google "People Also Ask" Feature to Improve SEO And Content Marketing?

Many of these keywords have low monthly search volume, but they’re still worth targeting because they’re much easier to rank for.

#3. Give Better Answers to Branded Questions 

One of the best ways to use PAA boxes is to improve your branded search results. 

A branded search is when someone searches for your brand name or a specific product you offer. 

For example, if someone searches for “Nike shoes,” this would be considered a branded search.

It’s not about preventing your branded keyword from getting hijacked by your competitors. But also, it’s about preventing unscrupulous business entities from running negative SEO campaigns against you.

To do this, you must ensure you’re giving the best answer to the branded questions people are asking. 

Here’s an example of a branded search for “Nike”:

  • What does Nike stand for?
  • Is Nike better or Adidas?
  • Who is Nike owned by?
  • Why is Nike popular?
  • What is the Nike logo called?
  • Why is the Nike logo a swoosh?

Nike is such a huge brand that there are bound to be many questions about it. 

By looking at their PAA boxes, you can understand what people want to know about your brand.

#4. Improve your Featured Snippet 

A featured snippet is a box that appears at the top of the search results that gives a brief answer to a searcher’s question. 

Featured snippets are designed to give users the answer they’re looking for without having to click through to a website. 

They usually appear for questions that have a simple answer. For example:  

  • How to tie a tie 
  • What is the capital of France? 
  • How many ounces are in a cup? 
  • What is the square root of 64? 

Featured snippets are an excellent way to improve your website’s click-through rate (CTR). 

A higher CTR means more traffic to your website.

#5. Use PAA boxes to Generate Ideas for Blog Posts 

One of the best ways to use PAA boxes is to generate ideas for new blog posts

By looking at the questions people are asking, you can get an idea of what topics would be interesting to write about. 

For example, let’s say you have a blog about dogs. 

You could use the PAA boxes to find questions people are asking about dogs and then write a blog post about it. 

Here are a few ideas: 

  • How to potty train a dog 
  • What is the best type of food for a dog? 
  • How to get a dog to stop barking 

These topics would be interesting to write about. 

Plus, by writing about these topics, you’re more likely to rank in the search results for these questions. 

PAA boxes are a valuable tool that can be used to improve your SEO and content marketing

By looking at the questions people are asking, you can get an idea of what topics would be interesting to write about.

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