A content marketing strategy should incorporate best practices for everything from SEO to paid advertising, and it should quickly adapt to developments online. For example, if you pay attention to how SERP layouts evolve over the years, you'd see that Google changes how it presents answers to web user queries. One of these changes is the addition of the People Also Ask box. The PAA or People Also Ask box in Google SERPs is a universal result that displays questions other searchers have asked related to your search. Take, for instance, the SERP for "what is website design?"
You will see that people also ask, "what is the process of designing a website," and "what is the difference between website design and website development," among others. Clicking on the drop-down option will reveal a definition from one website and bring up other questions. The next questions, which appear at the bottom, further refine your query: the more drop-down items you open, the more you learn about the topic.
Google is clear about its goal of moving away from merely providing information and towards becoming a "knowledge engine." They want to answer people's queries within the SERP itself, instead of having them click on multiple links and waiting for websites to load. Google measures "Time To Result" as a way to determine how well they're providing their service. It is why they deploy SERP features like the knowledge graph, featured snippets, and People Also Ask results.
Do PAA Results Always Appear in SERPs?
Semrush's 2020 study of People Also Ask results show that PAA appears in more than half—52.27 percent—of search results on mobile. It also appears in 49.37 percent of search results for desktop. Various industries, according to Semrush's study, have different rates for PAA SERP presence. The variation is due to the search intent. For example, people searching for keywords related to news will need the latest updates on current events, so Google enriches these with cards featuring articles or videos from top news sources online. The SERP for "Olympics 2021" reflects this:
Semrush also reports that many Arts and Entertainment searches happen on mobile devices, while those for Computers and Electronics are mostly on desktops. Understanding how people search in your industry will help you leverage PAA and other rich SERP results.
Is There A Standard Location for PAA Boxes?
According to Semrush, the PAA block appears after the first organic result in more than half of SERPs (58 percent). The organic result can be a link or another kind of result, like a featured snippet. In about two-thirds of the time, a PAA result will be one of the top three results, making it one of the most visible elements on a search results page.
Also, PAA boxes almost always appear for keywords that start with "what," "why," "when," "where," and "who." It suggests that business’ content marketing strategy would benefit from structuring posts or videos around questions, directly referencing these, instead of relying on readers to understand the context. As such, creators would benefit from incorporating questions in their content; questions can appear in PAA and featured snippets boxes.
How Users Benefit From People Also Ask
The primary purpose of incorporating PAA into SERPs is query refinement. People Also Ask, autocomplete suggestions, and related search links are all geared towards refining user searches. These three enable users to find specific information from a general keyword. Sometimes, people type vague keywords that do not signify their true search intent because they do not know what to search. PAA and similar page elements allow for greater specificity in the results.
In some instances (less than one percent), Google places the People Also Ask block in the top organic result for a query. This allows more websites to gain a significant presence, especially for topics that Google would have linked to sites with strong domain authority.
Semrush's data shows that featured snippets appear less frequently than PAA results. People Also Ask appears together with maps for queries starting with "where" or videos for "how" keywords. It shows that Google might be treating People Also Ask blocks as more of a query refinement tool than featured snippets, which helps explain the search intent or interpret a user's question.
How Do You Make 'People Also Ask' Work For You?
Convincing people to view your website as a go-to for answers would help convert them into customers. Be generous with your information; if you are, people will be more willing to pay for paid solutions. The thing is, everyone else is trying to be the go-to solution in their niche. As such, you need a viable, agile action plan for being part of the PAA box for queries related to your industry. Here are some things you could do.
- Find a PAA question relevant to your industry and create or optimize content to increase Google's likeliness of using your page as a source for this query.
- Use a keyword research tool for finding your target PAA questions. Handpicking phrases can be inefficient, and you will get wildly varied results with it. If you use a keyword research tool like Semrush or Ahrefs provides, you will have the monthly search volume and keyword difficulty for a wide range of phrases. All you need to do is go over the data you get and base your strategy on it.
- Ensure that the answer to the question is on your page. Even if the context answers the query, Google will not select your page as a PAA source if the question itself is not there.
- Write the response in a way that would make sense to Google. If the current response to this question is in paragraph form, do not use a list to answer it.
- Keep your code clean. Use H2, H3, and other relevant headings, remove fluff from the text, and ensure you're doing everything you can to keep your content as clear as possible.
Defining a PAA strategy means getting a clear picture of search intent. Google wants to build knowledge graphs and enable people to get results in as little time as possible. If your content satisfies speed, relevance, and accuracy, Google will be more likely to choose your page.
Future-proof your content marketing strategy when you partner with Ranked. We provide a simple, affordable SEO solution for acquiring high-quality traffic to your website; contact our team for inquiries or activate your account today!