People Also Ask: What every SEO needs to know

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In this article, I am going to explain what People Also Ask are, how to use them for keywords research and to get your website on them.

The PAA feature was released back in 2015 in an effort to make searchers find related answers to their queries.

For example, you want to know “how to become an SEO consultant” and you make a search for “SEO consultant”.  Google is showing a list of results about SEO consultant but these results might not answer your question fully. 

This is why Google also shows a list of 4 questions people also ask such as “What is an SEO Consultant?” and “How to do SEO consulting?”.

It’s a way for Google to improve the answers people search for.

This approach matches what Google is trying to achieve, which is providing the best answer to every user’s query. This is one of the reasons, probably the main reason, that allowed Google to become the tech giant everyone uses for searching something on the Internet.

In the rest of the article, I’ll explain more what People Also Ask is for and how to get on PAA.

What are People Also Ask questions?

Well, think of it as Google’s way of making your search experience even richer. 

As you enter a search term, Google not only presents you with the initial results but also takes note of the most common related questions people tend to ask about that topic.

Imagine you’re looking for information on “best travel destinations.” As you type this query into the search bar, you’ll see a section titled “People Also Ask.” 

There, you’ll find a curated list of questions that others frequently seek answers to, like “What are the top destinations?” or “Which is the most beautiful place in the world?” 

It’s like a treasure trove of valuable inquiries that others have made, all at your fingertips.

Now, here’s the beauty of it: Google doesn’t stop there. When you click on one of these questions, the magic unfolds. 

The expanded answer appears right below the question, eliminating the need for further clicks and opening up a rabbit hole of more questions to explore.

It’s a seamless way to delve deeper into the topic without ever leaving the search results page.

Essentially, PAA is triggered in the search results when Google believes the user did not find enough information within the results it provided (because probably the content doesn’t contain all of the answers). 

Another reason why Google shows PAA on result is that it wants the user to spend more time on the search engine instead of clicking to a website and going away. This is often referred to as “Zero-Click Marketing“, a term coined by Sparktoro.

In the example above, you can see that when people search for “best travel destinations”, they also want to know which is the most beautiful place in the world.

This improves user experience for those surfing Google.

But it’s not the only thing it does. 

PAA is a great tactic also for content marketers and SEO pros looking to improve query intents. If you want to understand exactly what people need to find and the true intent behind a keyword, you need to analyse PAA and its ramifications.

I also interviewed some SEO specialists, like for example Adam Hardingham, CEO of Rivmedia, who shared his process for PAA:

Using People Also Ask (PAA) has been a game-changer for content optimization and boosting my website’s visibility in search results. Through PAA, I’ve discovered new content ideas, identifying the questions users are frequently asking. This insight allows me to create content that fills knowledge gaps and aligns closely with user intent, enhancing its relevance and ranking potential.

“I also use PAA to refine my existing content. By incorporating answers to specific PAA questions, I improve the content’s clarity, structure, and keyword relevance. This approach doesn’t just make my content more comprehensive; it also boosts its search engine ranking.

Incorporating PAA questions into meta descriptions and headlines has been a smart move. It directly addresses user queries, sparking interest and potentially leading to higher click-through rates. Plus, understanding the specific intent behind user searches via PAA data helps me tailor my content more effectively.

For instance, when writing a blog post about choosing the right running shoes, I used PAA to find relevant questions. Integrating these into my content ensured it was comprehensive and addressed user concerns, leading to a noticeable increase in organic traffic and improved search rankings.”

Here are five statistics that highlight the impact of this strategy for Rivmedia:

  • Organic Traffic: Utilizing PAA insights saw a 30% rise in organic traffic to specific pages.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): My CTR improved by 15% after adding PAA questions to meta descriptions.
  • User Engagement: There was a 25% increase in user engagement on pages where PAA insights were used.
  • Search Ranking Improvement: Pages optimized with PAA data saw an average jump of 5 positions in search engine rankings.

Another interesting story comes from Charlie Worrall Digital Marketing Manager at Imaginaire, a digital marketing agency:

Having used PAA like most other marketers, we’ve been able to enter certain keywords, phrases or even questions to receive new areas to target or new questions to answer for an article or the like.

We work with a commercial washrooms company and we’ve used PAA as a big part of their strategy. There are so many questions about the commercial washroom space because new businesses aren’t sure how many toilets they need to have or if they need them at all. With that in mind, we’re able to take all of the potential questions that PAA gives us and plan content around them. This positions the brands that we work with as experts in their field and if you’re finding that this brand is offering good advice and explanations, you’re more likely to choose them if you need their services.

Charlie Worrall

These stories are not the only ones. Many companies use People Also Ask to enhance their SEO and increase click through rates.

Goteamup.com increased their organic CTR by 6% in a few months. And MeasureMind, a digital agency, noticed that people were asking Google about pricing in the PAA boxes, so they went a step further and created their own dedicated pricing page, which now receives 1,000 extra visitors a month with a 4.1% organic CTR.

Psst..Have you checked KeywordProfiler yet?

It’s the easiest People Also Ask tool you’ll ever use. From a single keyword, discover all PAA questions and its ramifications.

 

Try it for free

If you find a general keyword you want to go after, search it on Google, then you should have the standard list of four questions people also ask. 

These questions are updated on a regular basis which makes them extremely relevant to the user. For example, if people vote for a new  best travel destination and replace, say, Rome with New York, then the people also ask questions will also update with the most recent information.

People Also Ask (PAA) vs People Also Search For (PASF)

Let’s talk about “People Also Ask” and “People Also Search For” – Google’s helpful companions on your search quests. 

When you make an initial Google search, “People Also Search For” keywords are the ones Google knows you might be interested in exploring next. On the other hand, “People Also Ask” (PAA) presents you with related questions that people commonly inquire about, all tied to a particular keyword.

For example, let’s go back to the previous “best travel destinations”. These are the related queries people also search for:

These queries might not be exact keywords, but they sure are the related searches that people make regarding the topic. Quite a goldmine of inspiration for your next content or blog post ideas!

It’s fascinating to see how Google’s SERP is always evolving, introducing new results and search methods. 

Remember, Google’s mission is to make your search journey as swift and satisfying as possible (if I haven’t emphasised this enough). A delightful experience waits for all those who choose Google as their trusted search engine.

What does Google say about the PAA section?

There isn’t a lot that Google shared on the PAA box. We know that this feature was initially launched in 2015 with a Tweet from the account Satyajeet Salgar, Director of Product Management at Google. 

If you’re in the US and like exploring topics, there’s a nifty feature for you to try with “People also ask” on Google. pic.twitter.com/s2WtwyYvun

— Satyajeet Salgar (@salgar) February 10, 2017

It was a sort of a quiet launch as Google does when showing a new SERP feature. That’s because before and after launching Google continues to test the feature for weeks, along with testing new features all the time.

Since 2015, People Also Ask hasn’t changed at all, it started with the 4 questions box and today it’s still the same.

PAA is likely here to stay on SERPs for a while, even if it seems to appear less often.

People Also Search Statistics

Recent research shows that the PAA box appears more than in 80% of the total search queries!

I was given access to the new Google search generative AI to have a sneak peak at the future of search.

You can see People Also Ask box is still there, but Google also added the same questions within the AI response.

It’s not clear at this time whether Google will keep using the same PAA box in generative AI or if the questions between the two features will be different.

Tools to find People Also Ask questions

Here is a list of tool to help uncover PAA questions and their sub questions.

Here is also a list of AlsoAsked alternatives in case you want more details.

1. Keyword Profiler

If you haven’t checked Keyword Profiler yet, you should. Why? Because me and friend developer built this tool! 

Okay, mostly him because I don’t have web development skills, but I had the vision and the idea.

Our People Also Ask Query tool conducts a live crawl of Google based on your search term and extracts the related questions from 180 countries.

With a paid account you can also upgrade on your features such as click on the link used by Google to provide you with the answer. 

You can also take screenshots or download an Excel file with all of the information in one place.

Give it a try for free

 

2. Search Response PAA tool

The PAA tool from Search Response allows you research not just the questions from a starting term, but also all of the questions from a URL or a domain, as you can see below.

While these features might be useful, the tool is only limited to the US. Another issue with the tool is that it doesn’t provide the tree and the correlations between questions, making it difficult to understand search intent.

3. Twaino PAA tool

Twaino is an agency offering digital marketing services and they developed a tool for searching people also ask. You can view the PAAs in different formats: as a tree or a list and then download it in Excel.

Below is the list view.

How to get your pages in the People Also Ask box

Getting into the People Also Ask box has quite a few benefits:

  • Increased Visibility: When your content appears in the People Also Ask box, it gets prominent visibility on the search results page. This prime position can lead to higher click-through rates and more organic traffic to your website.
  • Enhanced Authority and Trust: Being featured in the People Also Ask box positions you as a credible and authoritative source in your field. Users tend to trust content that Google showcases in this section, which can boost your brand’s reputation and credibility.
  • More Click Opportunities: The People Also Ask box typically contains multiple questions related to the initial search query. If your content addresses those questions effectively, users may click on your link to find more information. This can result in multiple click opportunities and increased engagement with your content.

Find additional questions to answer within your content

The trick is to research the questions people also ask and provide the best answer for them, to have a chance of replacing the answers already provided.

Use the tools I provided above and study the answers to those questions.

Then improve your content accordingly.

 My recommendation is to improve on these factors:

Understand your target query and intent:

  • People Also Ask (PAA) is an exciting feature on Google SERP.
  • Clicking a question generates related questions that dive deeper into the topic or take you in a different direction.
  • Google relies on semantics to anticipate users’ next questions and provide satisfying answers.
  • Focus on both keywords and the intent of the question to optimise for PAA and provide useful details.

Ensure On-Page and content optimisation:

  • Start optimising your page content by checking if the answer to the question is available.
  • Make sure your answer is detailed and easy to understand for better ranking chances.
  • If your page lacks answers, add the necessary information.
  • Use techniques to enhance user experience, such as clear headings and structured content.
  • Quality and relevance are crucial for ranking in People Also Ask (PAA).

Look for Popular PAA questions to target SERP:

  • Find high-ranking pages and list frequently asked questions related to targeted keywords.
  • Optimise for questions that appear in the PAA box for multiple keywords.
  • Create content around potential user questions after their initial search query to optimise for PAA.

Add semantic-rich search terms to your content:

  • Expand your reach by including semantic-rich search terms in your content.
  • Google uses Contextual Search for multiple PAA drop-downs, so choose effective keywords.
  • Observe which elements positively impact organic traffic and CTR during keyword research.
  • Improve your content to align with your target audience’s queries.

Check out this guide I wrote for CXL on how to optimise for semantic SEO.

Or read what other digital marketing pros are doing to leverage PAA boxes.

Using the power of People Also Ask (PAA) has been instrumental in refining our online presence. In evaluating our company’s website, we frequently employ PAA to identify content gaps and capitalize on opportunities. For instance, we noticed a trending PAA query related to talent assessment tools and promptly customized our content to address this, resulting in a significant boost in organic traffic.

Abhishek Shah, founder and CEO of Testlify

Create FAQ Schema:

  • A thoughtful FAQ helps your page rank higher and drives organic traffic.
  • Collect questions logically based on search patterns and provide valuable answers in the FAQ section.
  • Utilize FAQ page schema to generate featured snippets and increase user engagement and traffic.
  • Using the correct schema can get your content featured in the PAA section as well.

Conclusion

People Also Ask are a great way for marketers to improve their ranking and their visibility on search engines by researching the right users’ intents that otherwise would have been hard to understand.

The great thing about PAA is that the information is provided to you on your fingertips by Google directly. It’s not a form of keywords research tool, it’s more a form of audience understanding and research. 

Often, these questions don’t carry any search volumes, but that’s not the point. Google is not there to serve high volumes keywords, Google exists to organise the world’s information and the PAA box does just that perfectly.

SEO is all about providing information to people, and if you understand what they search and need, you are better placed to serve them.