63,000 people per second (3.6 million per minute, 228 million per hour) use Google to search for something. The sheer number of searches Google crunches is mind-blowing, but even more impressive is the quality of the results.
When you use Google, you always get what you want. That’s why we all use it, and Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ section is crucial to this.
People Also Ask is a contextual box embedded within Google’s search results, containing topically-related queries to your search.
For example, if I search for “Tesla”, Google’s PPA box lists these ‘people also ask’ options:
And if I search for “what is 5G”, Google’s PPA box lists these ‘people also ask’ options:
What is the point of People Also Ask?
The purpose of the PPA section is to improve your user experience by increasing the chances of answering your query on one page.
Clicking on one of the queries in the PPA section gives you a snippet of content from that page. Here’s an example of one snippet:
Although there is a chance that Google will answer the searcher’s query without them needing to click through to CNN, most people click through anyway because it’s often the case that the source has a lot more valuable information.
How you can get in People Also Ask boxes
The basic process of ranking in ‘People Also Ask’ boxes is simple:
Do a search to find out what questions Google is answering already, then make on-page optimisations to increase the likelihood of Google using you as the answer. This may require creating new pages or adding new content to existing pages.
Once you have created your answers, it’s good practice to use the ‘Request indexing’ feature in Google Webmaster tools so Google crawls your content quickly (If you haven’t got Webmaster Tools, sign up, it’s an excellent tool!).
Structuring your answers
We recommend following this structure to get into People Also Ask boxes:
Put the question in a H1 or H2 tag — Google reads the headings on a page to understand what it is about. Creating a heading for the question establishes topical relevancy and gives your answer a contextually relevant introduction.
This should be normal <p> text. 99% of PAA answers are either four sentences long in the case of paragraphs, or up to 8 items long in the case of lists.
Google happily uses paragraphs and lists in answers, but not together. Your answers should be one or the other. In the case of lists, numbered lists appear to perform better than bullet points (this is based on what we see on a daily basis).
Google only includes answers that are written in plain English. Your writing must also be free from spelling errors and typos.
We have never seen sales language in the people also ask section. If you tack a phone number or an email address into your answer, you are unlikely to get included. Keep your language focussed on the question only.
Google themselves recommend you mark up your FAQs with structured data, which they define as “a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content.” Basically, it’s code to tell Google what the content is.
It’s easy enough to create structured data – just use this free tool. Copy and paste the code it generates into your editor when you edit your post or page. You want to select ‘FAQ page’ and create your questions and answers individually.
Don’t worry about it being categorised as an FAQ page – the important thing is your questions and answers being marked up as questions and answers. Google uses structured data to understand a page.
There is no exact science
Even though the structure we have provided is technically good enough to be included in a PAA box, that doesn’t mean you’ll strike gold. The most important thing is to understand what the top questions are and deliver quality answers. You can also increase the chances of showing up in PAA boxes with the following:
- Internal links from other pages pointing to your answers. Use the question (e.g. what is 5G) to create exact match anchortext
- A fast website – use PageSpeed Insights to measure site speed
- A responsive website – so your content is easy to read on any device.
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