Google is constantly innovating to maintain market share. As the world’s most popular search engine, it has improved its ability to anticipate users’ search queries and provide useful and actionable responses to their questions. By utilizing graphically dynamic features like boxes featuring text and other content, Google aims to point searchers in the best direction. One way they do this is with the People Also Ask Box, or PAA box.
What Is Google’s People Also Ask?
The People Also Ask box is a Google search feature that provides questions related to the search term entered and their answers. It represents Google’s guess as to what a given user actually wants to know. Compared with the limited amount of copy that appears underneath a standard search return, a People Also Ask box occupies a larger and more eye-catching amount of real estate. It’s Google’s way of telling searchers, “We think this is the best possible answer to your query.”
PAA boxes are a valuable way to improve your performance in organic searches because they create brand awareness. Plus, since not all content featured in the PAA box must currently rank on the first page of a given SERP, PAA boxes may help you make inroads for high-difficulty keywords you wouldn’t be able to capture otherwise. In fact, a SEMrush study found that nearly three-quarters of the pages PAA answers Google pulled weren’t from pages ranking in the top ten. This offers a unique opportunity for a well-optimized web page to “jump the line” and appear in one of these coveted spots.
Where Does the Text in a People Also Ask Box Come From?
Google pulls answers for PAA boxes from existing websites. It uses its knowledge of search patterns and trends to find and link to the web pages it feels best to provide an answer to a given question. This answer can be a paragraph, list, table, or even a video. As the PAA format evolves, you can expect Google to test more types of content in this dynamic element.
What You Need to Know About PAA Boxes
PAA Boxes vs. Featured Snippets
While Google People Also Ask boxes appear in an accordion format anywhere on SERP, featured snippets appear at the top of SERP. There are only one or two featured snippets for a search phrase, and the chosen snippet is from a page already ranking well for the associated keyword.
Another key distinction between Google People Also Ask boxes and featured snippets is that a single featured question can appear for multiple queries. So if you capture a particular PAA question, your answer will show up on SERPs for queries you might not rank for yet. This doesn’t happen with featured snippets, which must be earned for each keyword individually.
PAA boxes don’t show up for all queries, but they’re more numerous than featured snippets (which appear at most once on a given page). According to one analysis, PAA boxes appear on roughly 65% of SERPs, while featured snippets appear on about 6%. And while featured snippets tend to be limited to informational queries, the range of questions and topics PAA questions address is much larger.
Just like PAA boxes, featured snippets come in a variety of formats. Learn how to optimize for a featured snippet here.
The Value of PAA Boxes
PAA boxes can expand your top-of-funnel reach. Because users who browse the answers provided are typically in the research or awareness phases of their journey, providing clear and concise content in these high-visibility assets can entice potential customers.
People Also Ask boxes can appear nearly anywhere on a SERP. Some provide a limited set of questions while others feature a seemingly infinite set of questions, with Google suggesting more after a searcher opens a question. This could lead searchers to your content even though they didn’t use one of your targeted search terms.
Plus, the fact that Google has chosen content from a particular site provides it with credibility. This can improve the likelihood of attaining high-quality organic links and references, which are crucial factors in boosting overall SEO.
While Google is the ultimate arbiter in terms of what content appears in its PAA boxes, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of placement:
- Ensure the answer to the question you’re trying to place for actually appears on your webpage. Using clear language, structure, and formatting will boost your chances of securing a PAA answer.
- Create clear, trustworthy, and actionable content that matches the search intent of your target keyword.
- Add FAQ schema to help search engines understand what you’re saying and why it’s of high quality.
Is People Also Ask Google Optimization Worth It?
Only you can determine whether the time and effort to optimize posts for PAA boxes is worthwhile for your SEO strategy. However, I believe it is.
Securing an answer in a People Also Ask box won’t guarantee additional clicks or a leap in rankings. And according to one study, only 3% of Google users actually interact with them, on average. Of course, that number is highly variable. As the study itself points out, some boxes generate almost 13% interaction, which is pretty impressive.
PAA boxes do connect you with people who want an answer to a specific question, though. They also help serve as a content research tool. By adding PAA optimization to your content creation process, you can access new content ideas, ensure your pieces answer the most important questions on a topic, and possibly increase your footprint in search results.
How Do You Get Featured in People Also Ask?
Now we come to the pivotal question: How to feature in People Also Ask boxes?
While there’s no single process that can guarantee Google will feature your content, I’ve identified a few of the most crucial actions you can take to improve your chances.
Research Your Keywords
If you have keywords you’d like to create content around, kickstart the process by googling them. When you come across a relevant PAA box, find relevant questions and open them to see how the information is presented. Is it a paragraph? A list?
When you find questions you’d like to target, add them to your content outline. Make a note of the current answer so you can provide a better one. Format your answer in the same manner as the current answer.
Alternatively, you can gather many questions and create an FAQ post.
For existing content, the process is straightforward.
Google your primary and secondary keywords to see if they generate a PAA box. If they do, find a spot on your blog post or landing page to add the relevant questions and your own answers. If there’s not an easily identifiable section to expand, add an FAQ section to the end of your post.
Add FAQ Schema
If you add an FAQ section or create an FAQ post, format it so your questions are a heading (like an h3) and then answer the questions directly beneath it. Make sure your answers are clear and concise.
If you’re answering a “yes or no” question, begin your answer with a yes or a no. Don’t just provide links to draw visitors deeper into your content, answer readers’ questions then and there.
Once you’ve written up your FAQ, implement FAQ schema to make it clear to Google that your post features a Q&A.
FAQs About PAA Boxes
Is PAA a featured snippet?
No, People Also Ask boxes are not a featured snippet. While the two assets look similar, a PAA box tends to include more dynamic content, including paragraphs, lists, tables, and videos. And unlike featured snippets, which appear at the top of a SERP, multiple PAA boxes can appear anywhere on a page.
Will FAQ schema help get a PAA box?
It’s possible FAQ schema can increase the likelihood of inclusion in a PAA box. However, there are no guarantees that any single strategy will result in Google featuring your website in the People Also Ask feature in SERPs. That said, providing search engines with FAQ schema may help your chances.
Is PAA optimization part of SEO?
Optimizing for PAA boxes is not a necessary part of SEO. However, PAA optimization can provide SEO benefits.
According to some analyses, PAA boxes appear on about two-thirds of SERPs. Because your site can rank for a PAA box on a SERP where it normally would not, it presents a unique opportunity for lower-ranking websites to build impressions and clicks.
Does PAA increase conversions?
No one can promise that inclusion in a PAA box will increase conversions or sales. However, the PAA box’s attributes — such as increased visibility, expanded and eye-catching formatting, and the hosting search engine’s implicit stamp of approval — all add authority to your content. So while appearing in a PAA doesn’t guarantee a jump in sales, it can increase the events that lead to them: impressions and clicks.
Can PAA help you improve your content?
Yes. PAA boxes can help guide your content creation by highlighting related content areas that you can include. The questions and answers showcase what people are searching for and the kinds of information Google is surfacing. Use these to guide your content creation so you can provide better answers and secure those coveted PAA placements. Just remember to put your spin on it!
Want to Increase Your Footprint in SERPs?
Securing People Also Ask answers and featured snippets can increase your search visibility and brand awareness — and it all starts with keyword research and great content.
If you lack the time to find the best keywords for your industry or can’t create content regularly, partner with an SEO agency that will help you maximize your digital presence. Learn more about how Victorious’s keyword research and SEO content writing services power growth. Schedule a free SEO consultation today.