After featured snippets, People Also Ask (PAA) questions are the next big thing for SEO folks. If you’re wondering what they are and how you can optimize your profiles for PAA results, you’re in the right place. Dig in to find out all the need-to-know about People Also Ask questions!
What are “People Also Ask” Questions?
When you look up a query on the search engine, you find two things:
Answers to your own query (e.g., how to cook Italian food?)
Answers to complementary queries (e.g., what are 3 famous Italian dishes?; How to cook like an Italian?)
The latter is also known as the “People Also Ask” section. This section features a series of questions and answers on SERP (search engine results page) relating to your query.
For example, they may look something like the image below:
The answers on People Also Ask (PAA) can differ in format — for example, some answers on PAA can be in text format, some in video format, some in tabular format, and others in infographic format.
And due to the way they’re structured, it’s easy to get confused between People Also Ask questions and snipped features.
But here’s a quick tip to differentiate between the two: People Also Ask questions tend to be more dynamic, and when you look for PAA results, you might typically find 3-4 questions in the middle of SERPs.
On the other hand, featured snippets tend to be at the start of the page, and they directly answer your query (i.e., you don’t need to click on the question to get an answer to your question).
Why do People Also Ask Questions Matter?
A study by Ahrefs revealed that 43% of SERPs have “People Also Ask” questions. This also means that the content you’re producing and want to rank can easily be discoverable through PAA questions.
However, because only 3% of users interact with PAA questions, experts recommend optimizing for these questions only when you’re targeting a high-traffic keyword (this is because the interactions with high-intent PAA questions are potentially as significant as 13.6% even though the average is set at 3%).
And truth be told, optimizing for PAA questions is never really a bad idea. If you end up optimizing your search results, you have a better chance of getting noticed, and there’s no real benefit of not optimizing for PAA questions.
How to Optimize for People Also Ask Questions?
1. Use tools like Keyword Profiler to understand the questions and keywords you need to target
First things first —- to be able to rank for PAA questions, you first need to find and analyze the kind of questions people are asking (tools like Keyword Profiler, Also Asked, Search Response, and Ahrefs might be particularly helpful in undertaking this task).
But what’s the benefit of this, you ask?
The answer is simple:
You get to understand the structure/writing styles of current PAA responses.
You know more about the search intent of users for a query.
You find out which websites are often ranking for a particular keyword.
These tools will also show you the high-intent keywords to target (more on this topic in the next section). Alongside this, they’ll provide contextual insights about which websites are ranking for which keywords/questions.
Side Note: You can also use scrap PAA listings on the internet with the help of tools like Screaming Frog. Ahrefs has a similar feature (Site Explorer), which again allows you to scrape the internet for common PAA questions.
2. Try to target long-tail keywords
Next up, another way to optimize for PAA questions is to try to target long-tail keywords, mainly because it’s difficult to rank for short-form keywords, and you might get confused about which keywords to rank for.
So, to have a better chance of ranking, you’ll need to target long-tail keywords that:
- Are easy to rank for; and
- Result in sales and/or conversions (i.e., the intent match for buying/converting wouldn’t be the same for short-form keywords as it would be for long-form keywords).
You can again leverage a keyword platform to find long-tail keywords that match the audience intent you’re looking for, have low competitive density, a decent CPC (cost per click), and have manageable keyword difficulty.
3. Keep SEO best practices in mind
SEO best practices are another tried-and-true method that’ll help you rank for PAA results and optimize your answers. On that note, here are a few SEO best practices to keep in mind:
- Structure your pages with the question-and-answer schema. Try to also follow the correct formatting methodology wherein you add H1s, H2s, etc., wherever necessary.
- Ensure your metadata (i.e., meta title and descriptions) are no more than 60 characters and 160 characters, respectively, so they don’t get cut off by SERP.
- Try to add proper file names and alt text to your images and visuals. Try to also ensure the images you use are both desktop and mobile-friendly.
- Aim to add at least three internal links as well as external links to reputed sites. Ensure the places you link to don’t cause redirects, are broken, or link to inappropriate sites.
- Ensure you use numbered lists and pointers to make your content easy to follow and that you address the recommendations mentioned in the EEAT guidelines.
- Create content wherein the structure is skimmable, the wording is easy to understand, there’s plenty of white space, and you don’t stuff content with keywords.
4. Remove fluff and redundancies
Here’s the thing: PAA results aim to answer user questions in a quick, short, and sweet manner. So, you need to remove fluff, not only when it comes to content but also when it comes to formatting and code.
Doing so will not only help you improve user experience but also help the algorithm make more sense of your data. Experts recommend optimizing your PAA content using the following formats:
Try to avoid using jargon and explain your answers in the easiest way possible to avoid confusion and to make users click on your page. You might also benefit from considering search intent when developing your answers.
5. Decide where you want to feature your answers
Last but not least, all you need to do now is to decide where to fit in answers to PAA queries you want to rank for. For example, some companies choose to use their Google My Business profile to answer PAA questions.
In other instances, folks choose to update their existing content pieces (i.e., articles and videos) and refresh them to add answers to PAA questions. Or, in certain situations, folks choose to create a separate FAQ section on their website to provide answers to such questions.
Side Note: You might benefit from refreshing existing content pieces if they already rank well to help the search engine pick it up faster.
Target better questions for PAA with the help of Keyword Profiler
If you’re on the way to your website content for PAA results, the first step in the five-step process is to leverage a tool like Keyword Profiler, which will help you understand which keywords and questions to rank for.
Here’s more information on how the tool can help you:
- It’ll provide contextual insights while keeping your user location in mind.
- It’ll show you the keyword groups and questions you need to target.
- It only provides live data that helps you visualize PAA results.
- It’s even working on a reporting feature that will help you manage PAA even further.
- You can download your keyword tree in a PNG or spreadsheet format.
The best part of it all is that Keyword Profiler is completely free to use, and you can sign up for it today without even needing to input any credit card details.
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up today!