How to Get in People Also Ask Boxes and Related Questions
“People Also Ask” and it’s Related Questions are occupying significant space in Google SERP real estate.
Search engines are actually answer machines. Google no longer is sending the same volume of traffic to websites. It’s now seeking to answer the questions that people have – right in its search results. The tech giant is seeking a richer representation for answers and is storing more dataset information to draw responses from. Such rapid SERP changes cause a level of worry about losing clicks and is generating quite some confusion. Already in 2020, the percentage of People Also Ask boxes is increasing. To have a customer-centric approach to marketing and content creations, you need to answer questions that people ask. It is easier than ever to see what works by gleaning new Google Search Console Insights.
This article addresses and clarifies how to optimize for inclusion. Each person wants an experience worth their time when searching for answers. Google is heavily invested in providing the best answer that matches search intent. Showing up more often with the right answers here helps new consumers engage with your brand.
Let’s cover some basic definitions to get into this SERP language.
What are People Also Ask boxes?
The “People also ask” box is a type of Direct Answer. It is a universal Google SERP displayed with questions answered that closely related to the searcher’s intent. They expand to supply answers that Google has pulled from trusted entities, whether a person, event, review, website, dataset, et.. If a person clicks a question related to the initial query, further similar questions are immediately added below. All questions revolve around the same topic. When a person clicks a different question in the box, Google will show a new set of follow-up questions.
The PAA box is owned by Google and also provides insight into Google’s expanding library of any topic and its subsets. It is based on relational topics and machine learning.
What is a Related Question card?
The Related Questions card is composed of algorithmically generated questions that Google deems related to the initial question. Some identify these organic expandable cards as “FAQ Markup”. Each question expands to give the searcher more options in order to refine their query. Related Questions are presented in organic results at varying locations in the SERP, but they drop down below the initial PAA questions.
What is an Answer Featured Snippet?
Answer Featured Snippets is the parent of multiple answer formats. They are answers to users’ queries. They are select search results that are given prominence within Google organic result pages, typically just below the ads at the top. Their task is to answer users’ questions right away. Getting your business featured here means winning additional brand exposure in search results.
What is a Direct Answer in SERPs?
A Direct Answer is described accurately by its name and is a direct answer to a query. This makes it similar a Featured Snippet. It can answer both queries in a question form or those that indicate you are looking for something to be answered. It currently is displayed with a gray bordered box. In contrast to a Featured Snippet, a Direct Answer display does not come from a result appearing on the page.
A variety of Direct Answers can be display. Examples of Direct Answers that are interactive are a Translation or a Currency Conversion. Direct Answers for product details may be drawn from an enhanced retail landing page. Use correct product markup and anchor text to assist gaining the position of answering the query.
How are people’s questions populated in a PAA box?
Questions are strings with one identified knowledge base entity. Semantic parsing helps to interpret the correct meaning of searcher’s questions and convert them into an exact query.
What do PAA answers come from?
Answers are entities established in a knowledge base (KB) that are used to fulfill question queries. Information retrieval performs fine-grained detection analysis to catalog candidate answers. A KB is useful to provide structure among the library of answer sources. When a question is asked, deep learning can then provide an answer to the question presented by the searcher.
What is a Question Graph?
A question graph is considered a semantic approach that intends to manage asking and answering questions in a logical format. The questions and answers are related to each other in meaningful ways through entities. A method performed by one or multiple computers may generate a question graph that comprises of a respective node for each of a plurality of questions; connecting entities, with links in the question graph. These are typically nodes for questions that are equivalent or comprising of trusted sources on each of the plurality of questions based on user selections of search results. They are derived partly in response to previous submissions of the question as a search query to a search engine.
Deciphering pairs of questions from the plurality of questions when the questions occur in each identified pair of questions if they have at least a first threshold number of commonly identified selected resources. To populate PAA and related questions, search engines select one or more questions cataloged results, and transmit data identifying the selected questions to the user device as part of a response to the new search query.
With the huge percentage of all searches being in question formate, how to provide the best answer should be incorporated in business planning sessions. It is a key way to build your brand SERP.
“Google may search on a question someone asks by building a knowledge graph from search results, to use to find the answer to their question. So Google doesn’t just have one knowledge graph but may use many knowledge graphs. New ones for questions that may be asked, or for different people asking those questions.” – Bill Slawski of Go Fish Digital
What is the Google People Also Ask Accordion-like Feature?
The accordion-like nature of PAA permits an ever-expanding list of commonly asked questions.
PAAs may diverge extensively, from an initial set number of 3–4 listings to seemingly infinite search results.
It now dominates the space that organic search results previously occupied. The good news is that the answer box has lost some of its exclusivity and is giving way to more PAA. Today you have many chances to win a rich featured snippet for your site instead of one answer box in position zero.
The “People Also Ask” Accordion-like Feature may unfold into infinite PAAs. The expansion happens when you click the right arrow on a PAA question box. It not only reveals the answers to that specific question; 2 or 3 additional related questions appear at the bottom. The more you click, the more the box of common questions people ask expands. These infinite PAA lists can eventually produce hundreds of expanded results.
Google database is seeking more entities to complete dataset search on high volume topics. It hopes to expand the extent of completeness of Query Answers over partially complete or partially explicit answer sources.
PAA Boxes are on the Increase and Now in Brand Knowledge Panels
Given the prominence of PAA and related questions, iQuery Answers is now of even greater prioritization.
Tech Crunch reports that “by 2020 over 70 million U.S. households are expected to have a voice assistant”. Because it offers more entities with each click, the opportunity to answer voice-activated searches is exhaustive.
Amazon Alexa offers volumes of answers every day. Google Home uses snippets, structured data, and knowledge graphs to answer people’s questions. This opens up infinite opportunities to create content that gains an answer box that provides immediate value.
Every week there seem to be more opportunities to get your website’s answers into featured snippets. Generating fresh and unique answer-rich content increases your chance of winning a featured snippet. This is one means of giving the Google Assistant more answer response material to match to spoken queries.
December 2020 has seen an astounding development: PAA boxes, that people are now more acquainted with seeing when they perform a search, have begun appearing in knowledge panels, as well. And, the up-tick is remarkable, from 1% in September, they now display in 9% of brand knowledge panels.
How do I Gain Presence in Google PAA and Related Questions?
1. Research user signals to create a list of questions asked.
2. Narrow your audience and the top questions asked.
3. Use Jump Links to take viewers immediately to answers.
4. Match and organize answers that you can provide.
5. Optimize existing content for conversational phrases.
6. Provide answers to all top related questions.
7. Ensure that you fully answer each question.
8. Add semantic-rich search terms to your content.
Now we are ready to look more in-depth at each opportunity you have to optimize for getting in PAA boxes.
1. Research User Signals to Create a List of Questions Asked
Consumers are increasingly using text-based or voice search to ask questions that lead to purchasing decisions. The pace of SEO’s embarking on market research can be just as or more aggressive. Troves of datasets and data analysis can yield information about what’s happening on the SERPs. Try list every Related Question and later we’ll talk about answering them in your evergreen content.
Both Screaming Frog and Moz’s Stat tool are great for scraping PAA listings.
The top query in each list of user questions is likely to be diﬀerent for text search versus voice search results. The diﬀerence between the two may be substantial. Whenever a person uses Google Search with a question phrase, it tries to provide the best answer to the question. The answer is frequently returned in an answer panel. These returned answers have been previously catalog by topic and subtopics.
Careful planning in advance and active listening in the moment to what consumers want means you’ll learn how to develop your answers. It is an ongoing process of active listening. To prepare your question answer list, begin by breaking your topic into several smaller segments. It ensures that you maintain a clear focus on the consumer.
It also allows you to provide the audience with a road map to help them along their purchase journey. The common questions asked vary at each stage; many fit long-tail keywords. For example early on they will likely be price comparison shopping, so their questions will center on value and use. Before pulling the trigger on a purchase, they may be asking about return policies and means of shipping.
2. Narrow your Audience and the Top Questions Asked
Query Search is more conversational and intent-based, meaning, answer a very specific question with a direct and clear answer.
People Also Ask is Google’s way of showing you which answers to question you can provide.
Your SEO techniques should prioritize providing answers with the details that you know the person asking the question needs. You and your business is the expert. Users want the best matching, concise answer immediately. With so many questions being asked, you need to decipher which answers are most needed. This helps structure the order in which you get too creating or optimizing that content.
To gain PPA presence, do I optimize for voice-activated searches?
Yes. Do what you can to be ready for voice technology. Voice searches are more conversational by nature when evaluated to text searches. Local searchers’ questions most often fall in this segmentation. When on the go and a need arises, people tend to speak a query. This occurs while people are looking for information on the nearest place to fix a flat tire, get a meal, or find a medical emergency facility, etc. as they drive.
As an example, a voice-activated question tends to resemble the following, “Where is the closest auto mechanic near me?”, while a standard text search may be something like, “auto mechanic, Minneapolis” or “auto repair near me”.
Since voice searches tend to be less to the point and more natural in their composition, Google is learning a more natural language process. Your content and language can do the same versus just optimizing for text inquiries. Not only are they more conversational search results, voice search phrases are typically more action-based. When an immediate need presents itself, searchers find that voice commands are the easiest way to get an answer.
Since Google announced it will avoid featured snippet (FS) duplication, tests trying no snippet tag to web pages resulted in losses of the FS. In some cases, it also meant losing our optimal meta description snippet. In the end, if the SERP result looks considerably less appealing (no image) then most likely it is also less clickable. Try optimizing the max snippet tag to just over the character count of the meta description; current results than showing the URL with the FAQ schema is displayed, along with the meta description snippet
Create segments from your List of Questions by topic
Production questions, size, color, what a product is made of, etc., are things people are asking. Consumers are asking more questions related to a specific product before making a purchase. Follow the instructions carefully when implementing product markup. Incorporate Review and eCommerce JSON-LD markup when possible and fitting. Reviewers often answer the questions other buyers are likely to ask. If you’re not confidently of your skills, hire a Schema Implementation Specialist. Retailers should use wording that aligns with purchase intent.
Don’t be shy about answering questions on costs and returns. If you don’t answer these questions clearly, a disgruntled consumer may.
3. Use Jump Links to take viewers immediately to answers
Providing useful answers and value in a huge part of what SEO is.
On top of the page, create a table of context, each jump-link taking you to the part of the page answering each question. The featured snippet itself is what displays when Artificial Intelligence is leveraged, such as Amazon Alexa, Siri, or Google Home uses in response to a question.
Creating jump links makes the work easier for your site visitors to quickly see just the answer that they want. Jump links to specific answers lessens your chances of a low bounce rate and improves crawling and indexing. Remember, nested links are illegal.
Remember, it is vital to audit and maintain the accuracy and freshness each product item’s schema. Correct schema may have a decisive role in helping your site’s content gets featured in the PAA and for additional Related Questions.
4. Match and Organize Answers that Your Business can Provide
Your answers have lots of ways to show up. More clicks within the PAA box; more answer opportunities are added.
Pictured above is a “Long Answer Question” with a Item List format. Add bullet list content to make your pages easy to read like this one. A site’s domain trust and authority is important because Google wants to surface a correct answer. By observing the related questions sources, they most often are coming from highly popular search results. For example, if you search for [the best United States president], the “related questions” box contains answers from a .gov or .edu source, a recognized US historian, and a Wikipedia entity.
Interestingly, ordered results of the search are unique here but come from domains within first page results. Meaning, that a proportion of priority seems to be gleaned from the strength of the content. Sometimes the business that shows up has a mini-site jump link within the search snippet. This takes you to the page hosting the answer of the question.
Quality and closely themed content matters a lot here. The more clear well-structured content with schema markup and information about your entity relationships, the better. It increases your chances of being chosen for an answer featured snippet over other websites. However, remember that Question & Answer are not types of page schema, they are separate entity types like Address, Person, Book, etc. whereas
FAQPage are sub-types of
Answering the most important questions accomplishes two major things:
1. Providing value: Solving people’s needs is a paramount element of humanity. People use search Q & A to find answer-rich solution.
2. Building relationally: It’s a way to be present when needed. Doing so builds meaningful relationships with consumers who are buying the products or services that you sell.
5. Start by Optimizing for Conversational Phrases
People Also Ask is Google’s way of showing you which answers to question you can provide.
Voice search has already become a way of daily life across much of the globe. Your local businesses show up with key answers by following the advice in this article. By putting in place answers to frequently asked local information and concisely answering general information searches, you are ready when they ask.
It’s rare that a single marketing case study definitively answers a specified question that has been evaluated by advertisers and market researchers. But the questions people also frequently ask can be kept shallow and short, yet very effective. Today, they show up in multiple locations, not just under the Answer Box (if one is presented).
Top 3 Locations that “People Also Ask” Displays
- PAA is at the top of the page
- PAA is in the middle of the page
- PAA is at the bottom of the page
If you click on the answer box there is no need to click through to a site to read the answer. However, it still has value as it pops up related questions and gives you a chance to be there.
Create single pages that comprehensively answer one specific question. Avoid diverging too far into all related sub-topics. Users want concise answers that keep tightly themed to the query at hand. Keep it easy to read, digest, and suggest further actions that make sense to the user.
6. Provide Answers to all Top Related Questions
Why miss a chance to gain a Related Question and Answer spot? Since they are infinite, the more related questions that you answer in your web content, the more useful you are to searchers.
So many questions that people ask still have no answers. Rich and unique content that “answers all the important questions” will provide more user value than anything else. It should be placed in your site’s architecture so that it is accessible effortless and intuitively. Avoid burying your answers in 5 or 6 clicks deep in a blog post.
RankRanger makes it easy to view the level of Related Questions being asked on mobile. Their Mobile SERP Tracking Tool reveals that Google is now showing the people also ask box a lot more often on mobile SERPs. This seems especially true for many European regions. Mordy Oberstein of RankRanger says it bulks People Also Ask search results under Related Questions.
RankRanger reported on January 20, 2020 that:
- On desktop 50.6181% of page one SERPs have Related Questions.
- On mobile 66.268 of page one SERPs have Related Questions.
It is quite possible that the frequency of PAA boxes indicates that Google is favoring voice accessible search results. It’s another incredibly important reason to prioritize your PAA and “People Also Search For (PASF) results. More people are using multiple devices to ask Google questions.
It’s noteworthy Google is showing more Related Answers for mobile search responses. Success requires an agile marketing posture as it fluctuates. On other days how much the tech giant favors mobile is more distinct. SERPs change every day. This form of market research lets you see where chances are of winning more mobile and voice search visibility. Sometimes the SERP display titles this “Related Search” in the box itself. However, the HTML code reveals that Google refers to this as “People Also Search For”.
7. Ensure that you Fully Answer each Question.
Incorporate question and answer schema to increases your chances of winning featured snippets.
As more and more structured data markups types become available, try use them. This advances the information that you provide search engines. Google seeks to provide direct factual answers. Schema code enables search engines to extract facts and information about entities for matching queries better.
It lets your business associate the relationships between your content entities to their attributes and classifications. A confidence scores is then generated form relationships and added to Google’s library of answers it may draw from. It not only identifies each page’s highlights but is aware of notes, media elements, reviews and such within them, too.
How to be sourced more often for trusted answers in SERPs:
- Include the complete questions and answers in a tightly themed web page.
- Use plain language.
- Avoid excessive promotional language.
- Leverage multiple variations of Q&A schema.
- Don’t sit back; if you miss answering those questions concisely and factually, someone else will.
- Demonstrate leadership and critical thinking skills for your business niche.
8. Add Semantic-rich Search Terms to your Content
By adding semantic-rich search terms to your content, you expand its reach to additional queries. These are similarly related keywords that can bolster your content by providing more depth and context. Google uses Contextual Search to populate its manifold PAA drop-downs. So you need to figure out which keywords are working and can work harder.
To monitoring search query and page rankings, we dig deeply into Google Search Console reports. We look for which elements are positively affecting each site’s overall organic traffic and organic CTR. As part of your keyword research, look under the Queries Report. Take note of query phrases that are useful to answer questions. Improve on those that align with your target audience’s “Questions Being Asked” list.
Look at your informational queries, navigational and transactional search terms. Note which of your primary keywords are triggering PAAs.
Additional Questions About PAA from SEO’s
We’ve covered a lot about how to Use Google’s New “People Also Ask” feature, but questions abound.
Why doesn’t my search have the People Also Ask box?
Not every search term currently causes this feature to propagate. Test a few of your web pages that have high search volume for its main topic and related keywords. This may include your site, but you also need some level of authority on the topic and correct technical SEO.
By using straightforward language you close the door to other websites defining your answers and the PAA. If you aren’t, that may be why.
How do I track my domain presence in People Also Ask?
There are many different tools that will help here. We use Ahrefs. It’s under their Position Tracking Report in a section labeled “SERP Features”. Their question mark icon is where People Also Ask is being triggered and reported.
Why did my presence in the PAA disappear?
Google indexes content and each web page is evaluated for its value and is fully considered for ranking. This is not a guarantee of being bolded in the snippets. It’s a technical process of how the content is surfaced for each site. Indexing does have limitations. Someone else may have recently posted a better or more trusted answer. Read our Answers to Common Search Marketing FAQs.
How long can answers by for QandA on Google My Business?
Google has updated the cut-off length for QandA on Google My Business. Answers now get truncated after 440 characters. These answers show up right in GMB, but may be pulled and displayed however Google chooses.
What questions Types Appear on a Brand SERP?
The questions we find displayed in the main column People Also Ask of brand SERPs are easily identified by three categories:
1. Factual question answers about a business brand that the business can anticipate answering (and win that placement in the PAA box). Example: “Is Hill Web Marketing offering brand services?”
2. Value assessment queries about the business brand, whether comparing it to a competitor or seeking a trusted advisor. Example: “Are Blizzak tires good at directional snow traction?”
3. Topical inquiries regarding the brand’s niche market. Example: For a search for a private health food store, “is there a Whole Food Market in Burnsville, MN?”
Google’s BERT Influences PAA Results
BERT (a natural language processing pre-training approach) is pushing more SEO’s to think. We must go past seeking a magic bullet to accept that they must have a more comprehensive understanding of how Google search actually works and is evolving. What works today may have evolved by the time you strategize, get approvals, send instructions, and test final SEO task implementation. For instance, a lot of pressure is on healthcare sites to provide accurate answers; they also need authority that gained by healthcare patient reviews.
Google is seeking to provide answers that are more human-like. We just need to talk and respond like we would during a one-on-one in-person conversation. Seek to be a natural writer like; BERT is just trying to understanding what our content says. We don’t need to be using complex words or to sound like we have the brainiest reply to everything.
The way the web is used is full of questions and answers. BERT going live is meant to be another step forward in this arena. Restate users’ questions, answer them, and expound with in-depth information that your target audience needs. Ask, answer, expand. Rinse and repeat.
“10% of queries issued on a search engine has question intent whereas only 3% of them are formulated as natural language questions”, according to Adarsh Kumar. The May 7, 2018, Translating Web Search Queries into Natural Language Questions document explains that “users often query a search engine with a specific question in mind and often these queries are keywords or sub-sentential fragments”.
The document talks about the evaluations of textual information for both questions and answer candidates, Search engines may rely on multiple methods to measure the matching degree between a question and an answer candidate. This shows that more questions answered with NLP will help. Many are seeing tremendous rank volatility; specific industry sees more zing-and-zang in page position of those rankings. Financial, sports, news, and businesses within the YMYL (your money, your life) niches got hit the hardest.
“Structured data. This is one of those things that I want you to pay lots of attention to this year. We launched a bunch of search features that are based on structured data.” – Google’s Gary Illyes
While Google doesn’t explicitly state that structured data affects things like featured snippets, it has been strongly implied. Given the recent addition of Question Schema and QAPage Schema, combined with the current explosion of PAA, decipher your best implementation when choosing between question-based schema markups and PAA snippets.
We expect that organic results space and traditional blue links will continue to shrink. Implement these tips to improve your website’s chances of landing as a featured snippet for searcher questions. Provide searchers in your local market the best answers.
Why Google Featured Answers are Important to Your Business
The craze to get in Google People Also Ask and featured answers is intense.
And for good reason. Consistent, user-focused marketing (technical SEO, content creation, and otherwise) helps businesses outlast Google algorithm swings. When your answers surface in search more often than your competitors, you become a recognizable and trust brand. Displaying results on a mobile device us a transition from the “10 blue link”-paradigm towards newer, richer, more reactive, and more interactive ways of presenting the user with answers.
It is easy to forget that Google is the delivery mechanism between your business and your customers. Focusing more on answering consumer’s questions than pushing products is a natural way to convert consumers into becoming customers. Trying to manipulate search engines will fail in the long run. The key is to get the right combination of offering all the best answers while helping search engines understand your content. Only by experimenting with the algorithm can you nab more presence in Question and Answer SERP formats. It is a very effective SEO tactic.
The answer box was Google’s first noticeable endeavor to provide a definitive answer to queries. However, it’s usually limited to one answer. To make providing answers easier, it introduced the “People Also Ask” snippet (PAA). Increasingly, PAA is dominating SERPs and has become almost ubiquitous.
Build an internal culture of innovation to improve on how to supply answers to people using search. Understand your customer need states and the questions most often asked at each juncture. Be well prepared to have your answers show up in mobile-perfect content. This will help your business be more efficient and effective in your search marketing strategies.
PAA Statistics that Support the Value of Optimization
Getstat.com conducted a study on People Also Ask features and reported the following:
- 28 percent of our second searches produced a PAA box that shared one question with the first PAA;
- 42 percent produced a box that shared two of the same questions with the first;
- 16 percent shared three;
- 12 percent had all new PAA questions;
- 2 percent of searches didn’t produce a second PAA box;
Anita Bhatti’s Nov 29, 2016 What’s the Deal with People Also Ask Boxes article concludes that Google is not selecting these questions based on how often they’re searched. It also infers that structured data helps your SEO.
We’ve become more aware and followers of Google patent fillings and updates that help us understand how Google endeavors to provide answers to questions.
Google Answer Passages and Answer Featured Snippets Patents
Remember, the first step to succeeding in search is actually deserving to rank over others. You made need to first have optimized foundational web content in place.
Google gets the entity understanding right (compared to other search engines). It knows how important relevant and correct answers are to people. It is important in web content creation; SEO’s and content writers need to know what sort of content is fit for the question entity. Have an SEO audit run by a skilled auditor. Then fix and implement the ways you can improve entity recognition in your content.
It’s not just about having the most fact-filled site and being super technically optimized. but it won’t rank on page one because that’s not how Google sees the entity.
An updated Jan 15, 2019, Google patent reveals that an answer passage might be selected based upon a score that shows that there is structured data (example: schema) and unstructured data (example: prose passages) to yield an answer.
The Candidate Answer Passages Patent describes its search engine query processing used for surfacing question-answering results. We find the following passage insightful.
“When scoring the candidate answer passages, both query dependent and query independent signals are used. In the case of the former, the query dependent signals may be weighted based on the set of most relevant resources, which tends to surface answer passages that are more relevant than passage scored on a larger corpus of resources. This, in turn, reduces processing requirements and readily facilitates a scoring analysis at query time.” – Google LLC
We anticipate Google Search will arrive at the point where users don’t even need to use keyboards. The Google BERT algorithm is definitely a step in this direction. That means, definitely optimizing for voice queries is important. It will help your business surface as one of the most relevant resources for the top questions asked in your industry niche.
Take advantage of the many ways that your answers can show up for PAA questions. Take advantage – at least – of the essential types of schema markup. Reclaim your visibility in SERPs if someone else wins them temporarily. For more than a decade, Jeannie Hill has provided digital marketing and SEO advice to B2B and B2C clients across the United States.
Discover creative ways to boost your site’s visibility in People Also Ask boxes. Call 651-206-2410 and request a Schema Markup Opportunity Audit