What are ‘People Always Ask’ Boxes?
Often appearing near the top of search result pages (SERP) is the People Also Ask (PAA) box. The PAA box is an interactive, universal search result from Google designed to engage the end-user. When you enter your search query, Google displays this SERP feature with questions and answers that relate to the original search. Although not much data exists on how often people interact with the PAA box, a rapidly growing percentage of search queries now show a PAA box.
Let’s look at an example. In this search for our client, Carolina Cookie Company, you first see the search results directly related to the brand, followed by the PAA box Google has populated with the related questions.
If you click on “Are cookies a good birthday gift?” from the first example, you are presented with the answer, followed by an expanded list of related questions and their answers:
Should You Care About PAA Boxes?
The short answer is “Yes”.
Optimizing for PAA is a great way to enhance your visibility in the SERPS. Our examples above are a good reflection of the buyer’s journey. Examining the evolution of what “people also ask” provides an opportunity to optimize your content by providing answers to these questions. When you do this, you become a go-to destination not only for brand-specific questions but for those related to your products and services.
From a brand protection standpoint, auditing PAA results can help you identify who owns the answers for your brand, or your competitors. By reviewing your competitors you might find opportunities to occupy space in their brand results and PAA.
Optimizing your SEO for PAA boxes
Start by looking through the PAA questions. Utilizing this great resource will help you determine other search queries to answer through new website content – and thus rank for in Google. The PAA box can show what questions people are asking about your specific brand, as well as questions people are asking related to your brand, i.e. services, reviews, etc.
The process is fairly straightforward on the surface: Utilize the topical questions in the PAA box to expand your company’s SEO strategy. Target those responses with website blogs and supporting on-page content to answer the questions. A plan to identify the right questions to address can be fairly involved and includes careful keyword research and data analysis.
Here are some steps that will help you get started:
- Extract PAA data and perform the necessary research into topics, landing pages, and keywords to implement an impactful and accessible strategy. Example tools: Google Analytics, SEMrush, AlsoAsked.com.
- Address questions in your content. Some recommended strategies include:
- FAQ: One of the easiest ways to help your website appear in the results for the PAA box is a FAQs section, either as a standalone page on the website or a blog post.
- Blog Posts: Blogs can answer specific questions about you, your services, or your products. Optimize meta titles and headings for each blog to match the question the blog content addresses.
- Video: Short, highly engaging Youtube video content supporting a blog post or other on-page content
- Support all of your blog, video, and FAQ with appropriate Structured Data
- Analyze the impressions and clicks in Google Search Console.
The ‘People Always Ask’ box offers a unique insight into the buyer’s journey. Acknowledging it as a resource, and understanding how to utilize the information it provides, will put you a step ahead of your competitors in search results, and bring more customers to your website.