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An AMA on PAA!

Everything You Wanted to Ask about “People Also Ask”

Google can be a very interesting and also a very strange place. Have you ever spent hours searching seemingly meaningless facts, hopping from one topic to another? If you’re wondering how you started reading about tequila and ended up reading about Barack Obama, you’re not alone. However, you probably haven’t noticed the one feature that was responsible for leading you down that rabbit hole: People Also Ask.

So, here’s a quick AMA (Ask Me Anything) about this feature. People Also Ask or “PAA” is Google’s way to prompt users surfing the internet to consider other related queries that are frequently asked online. It’s a prominent feature and joins elements like featured snippets, knowledge graphs, local packs and the answer box on Google’s Search Engine Results Page or “SERP.” So how does PAA affect your content marketing strategy? And what about SEO?

Making SERPs Make Sense

The goal of SEO is to lead users to a content site by answering questions they might have about a certain product, industry, or topic. Elements like PAA and the answer box take this one step further by providing definitive answers to queries, not just content links. Unlike answer box, which only provides one answer, PAA allows for variations in answers to the question and for searchers to see related queries.1

While it’s common to see PAA on the top of a SERP, it doesn’t have to live up there. PPC or ‘featured snippets’ are examples of paid advertiser content; PPC will always be at the top of the SERP.2 However, PAAs is usually in the middle or bottom of a SERP, sometimes even below SEO results.

Scanning PAAs can take you to infinity and beyond. We’re not kidding. “Infinite” PAAs are a common occurrence for those who might embark on a journey of clicks through the PAA snippet. According to strategist Britney Muller, “these occur when you expand a PAA question box to see 2 or 3 other related questions appear at the bottom. These infinite PAA lists can continue into the hundreds.”3 This isn’t just important for your trivia skills; it’s an example of the crucial space that PAAs take up on a SERP and the leading power they have to take users from one article to the next.

 PAAs and Your SEO Content

After reading this, you might be wary of PAA and how it impacts your hard working SEO strategy. Fortunately, like most digital marketing tools, PAA can also be leveraged to help your content succeed online. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. The Chosen Ones: Clicking on any of those questions will lead to a highlighted answer from a content site that’s been organically chosen as the most accurate or likely match. These sites aren’t paying for that placement - it’s still smart content marketing.
  2. Address the Big Ones: Do your research and find the questions that frequently pop up as PAAs. Address them through your content in an effort to become a highlighted answer. That’s how you can gain valuable web real estate.
  3. Reoptimize to Rank: By changing the language, using the correct headings or adding questions through your content, you can update your existing content to be more PAA rank friendly without the stress of having to recreate and populate.

PAAs play a significant role in most organic visibility on SERPs. In fact, Google considers PAAs a key part of the user journey.4 While complex, there’s nothing to fear. With a little time and a lot of patience, learning how to master PAA will give your content marketing strategy gain some well-deserved insight and success.

PAA. SERP. OMG. Are you getting lost in a sea of digital acronyms? Do you find it difficult to consistently create content that’s interesting and SEO friendly? We are a content agency in Mississauga, Canada with the expertise to craft the plan and the content you need to connect with your audience.

Use our online form to get in touch. You can also follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to stay up-to-date with content marketing trends.

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