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  • Marc Primo Warren

‘People also ask’ what?!

This is an article ‘‘People also ask’ what?!’ by Marc Primo

Did you know that 43% of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) have a 'People Also Ask' (PAA) box? While this feature is becoming more prevalent over the years, many search engine optimization (SEO) practitioners and marketers are still in the dark about it. Today, it is a featured snippet on Google that is visible 10 times more than others.

By looking into what the feature can do to improve your SEO strategies and how it can help you rank on SERPs, PAA boxes ultimately give you the best insights into what your target audiences are looking for and how to address them.

What is the PAA box?

This Google SERP feature, known as the "People Also Ask" (PAA) box, responds to queries associated with a user's search terms and intent. Google provides a clickable link to the source of each answer, usually a web page, below each response.

For example, suppose you type the search item 'how to make homemade wine' on the Google search box. In that case, the platform's algorithms will provide you with some other questions that may be relevant to what you are looking for or might be interested in, such as 'can you make your own wine at home?' or 'how long does it take to make homemade wine?'

Introduced in February 2018, this helpful Google-rich snippet gives users additional information that can further show them potential answers to their original queries. Like any other search result element, PAA results are also ranked by the platform's algorithms. But before we go on how you can rank in PAA results, let's discuss the four most important things you need to know to drive better SEO using the feature.

Important things to remember about PAA

First, you should always note that PAA boxes may appear in different areas of the SERP. It can appear right under the top search result, or for others, it may appear on the second SERP. In short, PAA boxes do not function as your traditional Google featured snippets, such as content extracts from a website, ad extensions, or the definition box for searched terms, which you can readily see on the first SERP.

PAA boxes also have a knack for expanding as you click them more, offering more relevant questions as you search for the correct answer. The more you check out a suggestion, the more you receive questions that load on the page, and they never end until you stop clicking.

Another thing to consider when working on PAA boxes is that they usually differ in format. Depending on how Google's AI-powered algorithm perceives a user's question, you may receive relevant questions in paragraphs, bulleted lists, tables, or even video suggestions.

Even though the exact searches frequently occur in PAA boxes across different search queries, Google seems to always use the same source for the response. Say you type in 'how to make wine?' or 'how to create wine at home,' your PAA box will always display the relevant question 'how do I start making wine?' Of course, the delivered question usually comes from the same website for both queries, although not all the time.

These PAA box insights tell us that you can perform better SEO as results via this Google snippet are usually pulled from the exact location for subsequent inquiries related to the original search intent.

Rank your landing pages in PAA boxes

For most marketers, finding a pertinent PAA query, then performing on-page SEO to improve the likelihood that Google will use their website or landing pages as the source for the response is the most straightforward formula to rank on PAA boxes.

It might render your tactic ineffective if you randomly pick queries even if you optimize them. Besides, the query may only appear in the PAA box for a few low-volume search keywords. In such a case, ranking probably won't bring you more visitors or even get your website or landing pages much exposure. This challenge only means that you should focus on optimizing relevant queries that come up frequently for many keywords with high monthly search traffic.

Assuming one of your landing pages has a high chance of ranking for a search query, optimizing that particular page with the right keywords that your targeted audiences might type in Google's search box would be best. Finding the right user search intent follows a step-by-step process, from finding the pages with the right keywords, scraping the PAA questions, researching for relevant questions, and checking your pages' eligibility to rank, among others.

Of course, you should always start by optimizing your page and ensuring that the multiple PAA boxes that display relevant queries that lead users to your page are not another source other than yours.

Focus on your content management

Another way to optimize your PAA boxes ranking is to anticipate the questions your target audiences may ask after posting their original query. The next logical step is developing the content you share around those queries. For your best chances at ranking, ensure that for every possible query, you also generate relevant content that thoroughly addresses each one's search intent.

Most SEO practitioners also use spreadsheets like Question schema or QAPage schema, which helps them focus and expand on a single question. Tools like Data Cube and Instant help determine the right search intent and queries you should work on with your identified keywords with high monthly search traffic.

Conducting your search is another technique to learn about what people are looking for online. The queries that pop up are usually the ones users type in Google's search box. More questions about the subject will show up as you scroll through the PAA box section, and from there, you can come up with more ideas for developing relevant content for better SEO.

PAA boxes can help improve your SEO efforts by simply finding the right keywords, developing the most relevant content for users, and providing more precise answers to branded queries. At this point, if your target audiences are receiving false or erroneous information about your brand, it could easily deter them from making a purchase, the same way Google won't rank your landing pages on its PAA boxes.

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