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How To Leverage “People Also Ask” To Increase Your Organic Visibility

Feb 1, 2021
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What is the "people also asked box" and how can we leverage it for greater search visibility? The people also ask box, also known as the PAA box, is a SERP feature that answers questions related to the user's search query. Each of these answers comes from a separate webpage. There is a clickable link within that box, which you can use to read more of the answer.

 

Video Transcript: 

So what is this people also asked box in the first place? Ahrefs did a great job of explaining it. It's this, the People Also Ask box, also known as the PAA box, it's a SERP feature that answers questions related to the user's search query. Each of these answers comes from a separate webpage and there's a clickable link within that box. You can go to the source and read more about. It looks a lot like this picture right here. As you can see, we've got all these different questions. If you open them up, here is an overview of the answer as well as a link where you can click in to go a little bit deeper.

So as you can see, these are pretty helpful from, a user standpoint, but it's also really helpful from a search marketing standpoint. Three reasons that these matter, well, the first is it gives you an idea of how Google understands the query. For instance, if we look at this query about family cars, let's say you're selling cars and you want to target this term, family car, but it's extremely competitive and you want to find a way to get somewhere within the top results. Well, we know that Google has this search feature here at the top, talking about the different cars, we've got this article from USA News, and then below that we've got a list of questions. So what is the best family car? What's the best family car for 2020?

As you can see here, it starts to talk about the top 10 cars. What is a good car for a family of four? What about for a family of five? What about for a family of six? What about for something that seats seven people? 

Google sees that families are different sizes and that's something that they're considering when they're looking at a query like this for a family car, because different size families will require different types of vehicles. And as you can see from somebody targeting this specific term, you'd want to take that into account as you're understanding what Google understands and also how it plays a role within the market itself.

This can also help us identify long-tailed queries. So here at the top, we type in family car, but here we'd say, "What vehicle is best for a family of five?" So you could talk about family vehicles, best family vehicles, best vehicle for a family of five. Now we're taking that really, really broad term and we're turning it into a long-tailed query that's probably going to be a little easier to rank for. It may not have the same amount of volume, but if you start to cover a lot of these, you can make up for that volume pretty quickly. It also exposes other related concepts that we need to cover. We got into this when we were talking about understanding the query, but concepts of family size, that's going to play a role when we look at family car.

Also the difference between car and vehicle, we need to make sure that we use both of those because they can be used interchangeably. We can talk about a seven seater. How many seats does the car have? That's a concept that we might want to cover. So we can start to really take this term of family car and build concepts all around it.

Now we need to look at how do we leverage People Also Ask to grow our traffic. I really recommend that you start by actually running the queries yourself within the search results. This is important because it allows you to see what's going on and start to interact with the search results yourselves, and to understand what the user's going to be seeing.

Even though it's going to be tempting to start with your tools or scrapers, don't do that. There's a lot of great tools out there that can help you with this, but those need to come in secondary, you need to be on a first name basis with the query. You need to be on a first name basis with the results and understand what's what's going on. Get a list of your questions and prioritize them and then start asking these questions to the search engines. And from there, you can pull the People Also Ask, or at least look at them and understand them a little bit. Who's ranking for them and why, what are the sites that you're seeing within the search results? As well as within the people also ask boxes.

This is going to allow you to familiarize yourself with the search results and start to build a list of information that you might want to use to target some of these concepts. I always have a pad and paper and a pen with me when I'm doing this type of research. I do a lot of Venn Diagrams, I do a lot of writing myself, it helps me to focus on what I'm seeing and take it in organically. After this step, then you can go in and start analyzing the content. This is where your tools come in. This is also where you take it a step further. I'm going to look at the type of content that's ranking, is it video content? Is it long form? Is it short form? Is it a listicle? Is it a how to piece? What type of content are you seeing?

You can also start to see what concepts am I missing. Am I not using a certain term? Am I not using a certain phrase? Very similar to what we saw within the vehicle query just a minute ago, where they started talking about the size of a family or how many seats you needed in a car. And they started using the term vehicle. This is where you can also see the different intents. Are people learning how to do something? Are they trying to buy something? Are they trying to look for different options to solve their problems? What's their intent? Why are they asking these specific questions? And then from here, you're going to run your own experiments.

This is where you need to look at the content, start to create some of your own to target these results, as well as long tail queries. Because a lot of these people also ask have long tail traffic off them as well. Then you need to track it and adjust it.

To walk you through the process of how you get started for yourself when we're starting, we want to start with our query. We'll go ahead and type that into the Google search box and we'll do the exact same one that we did in the slide cut out. In this case, we're looking for a family car, let's say our family is growing and we want to have a larger vehicle. When I come to these results, I can see right off the bat, all of these cars that are being pulled here into this carousel at the top.

This is quite a massive SERP feature, but as a user, it's also very overwhelming. First off, every car is black, white or gray, which is weird in and of itself. And I think Google's doing that on purpose. And then some other things that give so much information, it's almost overwhelming.

Then again, we see this USA News article and here are the People Also Ask questions. Now, if you remember, when we looked at these in the slide there was a lot more. The reason is, when you start to open up these tabs, Google starts to give you more questions. And as you can see here, I'm starting to open some of these up and I can get a lot more than the original four options that were there by clicking on these buttons. I've actually opened up quite a bit of information here.

Everything from, what's the best family car, to the best family car for a certain year, to the size of the families, to the use that the car might have. To the economic status of the family, middle-class, to safety concerns, colors, and even how much it's going to cost per month. So I can start to group some of these concepts here. I've got things like best cars, size of the family, the type of use, as well as the income and safety features that people might be looking for. This is going to sprout off a ton of different ideas that I can cover in our content to not be stale. Now, when you look at these, you can even open them up a little bit more and go, here is the top 23 cars for safety, and this is a USA Today article, so this is probably a listicle piece of content.

So I can start to see what is ranking. If we open up another one, like the colors, here is cashcarbuyers.com. It's talking about white, saying that white is the safest car to drive, which is kind of interesting. So again, this is another piece of content that we can look into. But just by opening up these boxes, I've got a ton of interesting information here. And if I open one, as you can see they start to add more here on color, because I was looking at some color questions. If I look at this family of six article, it'll probably start to give me some more about family size.

As you can see it did, here an eight seater and a seven seater. Now we're starting to pull some really interesting information, and on my pad and paper I can write down my query, and I can start to look at these questions.

If you want to scrape this information, or just pull it into a sheet, there's tools that you can do, to do that for you. If you know how to code, there's Python, there's different co-lab files you can use, or if you don't have a ton of this that you're looking for, and you have a few queries, you can copy and paste them into a Google sheet. And now you've got these questions.

What I would do from here is start to group these questions by intent or by concept. I would probably do it by family size, I would also look at safety features, I might look at brands, I might look at the economics. And now I'd have some categories that I could start to dive into.

From there, you could use anyone of your favorite SEO tools. For instance, we can go into SEMrush, we can run the query for family car, we can see the high volume, it's very competitive. And they're even going to pull out some questions here, which are interesting questions, but they're not the ones that we saw from people also ask. So that's important to know. And we can see some related keywords as well. This can help us to understand some of the metrics, some of the difficulty, and as well, some of the other SERP features that may be available. We've got reviews, we've got links, we've got a carousel at the top, which we saw, the People Also Ask, and there's three more. Images, video carousel, and Twitter.

We can also see the trends, are these terms trending up or down? This is going to give us some information, are these types of terms that we want to target? This is for the broad question, not for the long tail one. But again, it should give us some idea that, hey, if this query itself has 12,000 monthly views in the United States, it's probably going to have some long tail traffic associated with it as well. Once I put it in the sheet and have organized it, I can start to really understand the type of content I want to create. We saw some listicles, remember, before here. A lot of these are listicles, we see the top 10.

I would know, okay, let me try to put together some listicle articles about the top 10 safest vehicles. Maybe the top 10 most economic vehicles for families. The top 10 vehicles for large families. As you can see, I've got some great content ideas.

Now I wouldn't do top 10 for all those, I don't want it to look spammy. I want it to be genuine, I want it to be helpful and I want it to be insightful. But just by doing a little bit of this research, I've got 20 questions here that I can work with to start building really good content around, and to start targeting some of those long tail traffic, but really high intent questions that could solve my end users needs. Now this is not perfect, it's not completely scientific, but it's something that you can do step by step. Like I said before, you need to run your own experiments, you need to try this, you need to test how they work.

And if they work well, find ways to scale it and move it faster. If it's not working the way you want it to, try a different type of content, try a different type of question, a different type of query. It's not an exact science, it's something that we have to continue to run tests on, and to understand what's the best way to drive valuable traffic to our website.

I hope you guys learned something new about the People Also Ask boxes in Google and also how you can leverage them to grow your organic visibility. If you have any questions about what we talked about today, please comment below, we'd love to continue that conversation with you. And until next time, Happy Marketing.

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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