What if you could write content that answered questions before people knew they needed to ask them? What if you could answer questions that people find too embarrassing or too personal to ask? You would likely develop a stronger relationship, build trust and connect better with your audience than your competitors, and ultimately grow your audience.
I remember trying to fix something on my home and talking to a Home Depot expert about a part I needed. I was very careful to hide the fact that I did something dumb that broke my house. The Home Depot expert was no fool and knew my questions weren’t revealing the real truth. I didn’t need to replace the part, I needed to know how to do the job the right way, all over again.
Like the Home Depot expert, the power of People Also Ask boxes is revealing that the Google user really needs an answer to a different question.
For some industries, there are many questions that people want to ask but are uncomfortable asking you.
But they will ask Google.
You have likely had a question answered by Google based on a different question you asked first. You’ve likely used People Also Ask. Google has the biggest database of questions being asked and harnessing that power will help you write content that answers your customers’ questions better than your competitors and ultimately leads them to your business based on this trust.
What is “People Also Ask”
When you use Google Search to ask a question, you’ll often see a section of the search results that shows other questions that people ask.
People Also Ask is a feature of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) where the search engine displays searches that people use after doing the same or similar search you just did. Google’s algorithms recognize that your search is related to other searches. This is helpful because when you don’t know exactly how to ask something, you can explore answers for similar questions. This makes it more likely that you can get an answer to your question.
If you don’t know how to ask a question to get the answer you need, it will help you ask a better question to get the best answer.
How Does it Work?
The search engine contains an enormous database of user behavior. The search engine also collects data about the order or sequence of searches.
Let’s say you are in charge of writing for your company blog and you need some inspiration. You may do a search for “Ways to get blog post ideas.” Google knows that if you search, “Ways to get blog post ideas,” and you don’t immediately see anything you want to click on, you’re likely to also ask other questions. These questions are what appear in the People Also Ask section:
- How do I get blog post ideas?
- What are some good blog post topics?
- What can I blog about today?
- What should I post on my personal blog?
I clicked on “What are some good blog topics” and even more PAA results appear:
- What type of blogs make the most money?
- What type of blogs are in demand?
Think about those 2 new results for a minute. Can you see the natural progression from “What are some good blog topics” to these new PAA results?
It seems that searchers eventually progress to the question “What makes a good blog topic?” That’s a better question. If you are needing to write a blog, your content should do something for your business. Based on other searches for the same question and what people click on, Google recognizes that bloggers want to create content that:
- helps the business make money and
- matters to people today
How can you use People Also Ask to generate great content?
PAA is very powerful for a searcher because it knows what questions are asked by people that ask your same question. PAA is very powerful for a content writer because it tells you what kinds of content readers will be looking for next.
The power lies in being able to answer questions your customers or readers aren’t asking you.
Let’s break these unasked questions into 2 groups:
1 – There are questions that they haven’t yet realized they should ask.
Answers to a question almost always lead to a 2nd question, or 3rd question, and so on. A content producer can anticipate what questions will arise as questions are answered. What if your content can help readers progress through all the questions so that they don’t need to ask somebody else?
2 – There are questions that they don’t want to ask.
Have you ever been too embarrassed to ask the question you’ve wanted to ask, so you would ask related questions instead?
Remember the Home Depot example from the introduction? I was too embarrassed to tell the Home Depot expert what I had done. So instead, I was asking for the part that I broke. I should have told the expert what I did that caused the part to break. My problem wasn’t that my part was broken, my problem was that I didn’t know how to do the job right. So in addition to helping me find the part, he told me what to do differently next time.
Using PAA, if people are asking for a particular part or solution, you can learn new questions people ask when they do something wrong. Answer BOTH questions.
Where to create content using People Also Ask
The power of these insights is clear. Use it wherever you publish your content.
Blog or Newsletter
Setup your blog calendar to explore the relevant questions around your subject area. You’ll likely start with some keyword research. As part of your research, review the PAA snippets for questions people ask that you may not have considered.
You can either answer a sequence of questions in a single post, or if it takes more time for clients or customers to develop in your industry, you can structure your content to walk your audience through common stages of growth around an idea with a content series. Think about answering questions in sequence every 2 weeks or once a month in your blog or newsletter content.
FAQ pages have been getting more attention from SEO’s because the FAQ pages behave similarly to a search result. The page attempts to answer common questions on a topic in one place.
Not only do FAQ’s answer a number of questions in one place, but they offer many relevant keywords on a single page. Because these pages are helpful to users, they stay on the page longer, engage better and return for multiple sessions.
Use the PAA to create your FAQ content. Add this content to your FAQ page on your website.
Don’t forget about your other online properties. People are looking for answers to their questions in more places than a Google search. Answer questions in your social media feeds. The FAQ style of content is a short-form type of content that can be easily repurposed for other short-form platforms such as Google My Business, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Don’t just answer the question your clients ask. That’s why they come to you, the expert.
They don’t know what they should be asking. You need to help them ask the right questions and provide great answers. When you do, you’ll be well on your way to solving their problem. And they will be well on their way to becoming a lifetime customer.
If you try using People Also Ask to guide your content, let us know how it went. Did you have great success? Was it more complicated than you thought? Did you get some new insights? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call.