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How to Rank in ‘People Also Ask’ (PAA) Boxes?

While increasing varieties of Google SERPs can feel very overwhelming at times for SEO specialists, but at the same time, it can present myriad opportunities as well.

The brighter side of all the new addition of SERPs by Google is that they have brought many new areas of gaining ranking for your content on search queries. Your content doesn’t require, necessarily, an optimization to just get the 1st blue link clicked, but also can be a part of the “People Also Ask” boxes.

“People Also Ask” boxes have evolved since it was 1st introduced in 2015 by Google. They have become very prevalent in almost all search results and appear high on Google. In fact, a study by ahrefs shows that 43% of searches show PAA. But the important question here is whether you must optimize your content to become a part of these PAA boxes and if they actually matter?

So, we arrive at these few questions that we will answer for you.

  1. What are “People Also Ask” boxes?
  2. Evolution of PAA boxes
  3. Is it worth to optimize for PAA?
  4. How to optimize for PAA?
  5. Benefits of PAA

What are “People Also Ask” boxes?

When you type and search a query on Google, it provides the answer. It also provides similar questions to your questions and further answers to those similar questions in a separate box just below such answers. The questions provided hence can be relevant or can be entirely different, which might have some keywords from our queries. These questions are a Google SERP feature, called “People Also Ask” boxes, helping us find similar or different queries searched on the web. PAA queries, if clicked, have answers and a clickable link to the page where the content is hosted. These answers are paragraphs in general, but may also have video links sometimes.

Below is an example of a query regarding the Quotation Mark and subsequent “People Also Ask” box, which contains similar questions asked by various searchers.

PAA quotation marks

Things you need to know about PAA

There are few things you need to know about PAA boxes if you want to optimize your content accordingly. They are:

PAA appears on various positions for different queries: For one query the PAA box may appear after the 7th result, i.e., in position #8. whereas, for another, it might appear right in position #2. Although, data shows that 75% of times, PAA boxes appear within the top 3 results only.

PAA questions seem never ending: If we go on clicking one question after the other, the number of questions and the related answers keeps increasing. There seem to be unending numbers of answers available in the PAA box.

PAA answer has various formats: PAA has mostly answers in the form of paragraph, lists, and tables, but sometimes it may have a video linked to it. It depends on the query and how Google sees it.

Evolution of PAA boxes

Since its inception in 2015, PAA boxes have evolved and updated many times to provide more accurate answers to the searchers, and also to provide questions that the user might have not even thought of asking but are very relevant. These updates signify that the PAA boxes are going to be around for a long time and it is worth optimizing for them.

Dynamic Loading Facility: In the year 2017, Google introduced dynamic loading facilities for its PAA boxes. Dynamic loading means that the questions grow beyond the initial 2-3 answers and become almost non-ending. These questions, as explained above, are very relevant to the main query and can trigger answers to the search intent of the user.

Recognize question-answer pairs:Bing’s PAA box has a feature which can identify question-answer pair and show similar pair in the PAA box that has been asked by the searchers previously.

Is it worth to optimise for PAA

Is it worth to optimise for PAA?

Unfortunately, there are not much data available about the importance of PAA boxes as Google never published any datapoint since its introduction. But one survey by shows that only 3% of users interact with PAA. But the same survey also states that there is a huge variation in result numbers that hover in between 3% to 13%.

But you always need to keep in mind that these interactions may or may not result in the actual clicking of the PAA questions. One thing worth noticing here could be that Google may use your page for many questions and answers. That can eventually drive traffic to your site and may improve the conversion. Optimizing for PAA boxes may entail high traffic volume which could significantly improve ranking and profit margins. As these boxes are typically placed higher on the search pages, including your brand in them may help. Therefore, featuring in PAA boxes can be a risk worth taking.

How to optimize for PAA?

The simple way of featuring in PAA boxes is to search for relevant PAA questions that rank for lots of keywords as per your brand and business and do the necessary on-page optimization. This may trigger Google to use your questions as the source of answers for similar queries. Unfortunately, due to lack of data, we don’t know how this algorithm works but on the basis of many identified pattern, the below mentioned points could be seen as golden rules to become a part of PAA boxes.

  • Write full questions clearly and complete answers to such questions.
  • Use user-friendly language.
  • Steer clear from any sales pitch.
  • Add Q&A ideas.
  • Add many relevant keywords as used in various other questions.

You must always try to be very specific and accurate with your Q&A patterns. Structured formats may not guarantee inclusion in the PAA boxes but it increases your chances many-fold.

Benefits of PAA

You can leverage this PAA box feature by turning your website to be the ultimate landing page for almost all relevant queries. This will benefit your brand and your business by making them profitable in no time.

Benefits of PAA includes:

  • Creating useful contents
  • Make use of better or missing keywords
  • Beat competition
  • Provide better answers to search-intent for branded queries

Creating useful contents

With the help of PAA box questions, you can gain insightful information on the various search-intents of the various users. Such questions will automatically help you create content more suitable to answer all questions that may or may not pop up in front of you. Creating content more relevant around those queries increases the chances of organic traffic and brand awareness.

Make use of better or missing keywords

Similar to finding apt questions for the content, you can also need to research numerous keywords that rank on Google, which are present in the PAA questions. And we all know how important is the use of the most essential and famous keywords to increase the rankings of the websites and pages in general.

Moreover, while doing your research for keywords you may also end up with keywords you never thought can be useful for your current article. You can find a goldmine through such researches. Also, you can check if you are missing any PAA opportunities due to a lack of such keywords, which are otherwise giving you ranking benefits.

Beat competition

In case beating your competitors in organic searches, giving you sleepless nights, then featuring in PAA boxes can become that missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Competitor’s data from various PAA questions could also provide insight on something which your answers are missing.

Provide better answers to search-intent for branded queries

Search intent for branded queries usually has low volume but such traffic generally has a higher propensity to buy or convert the query into sales. If they get wrong or misleading information at this stage of the sales funnel, it can easily trigger a discarding behavior in them.

For e.g., when you search for QuickBooks, the 1st question in the PAA box is from a competitor and not QuickBooks themselves. Hence, QuickBooks must take note of such information and immediately optimize its content accordingly.


Final Words

The crux of all SEO activities is to satisfy the search intents of the searcher. With approx. 43% of searches showing PAA boxes and out of those, 75% position is on the top 3 spots, it can be called vital for you to feature in them. Featuring in PAA boxes can boost your organic traffic tremendously.

All said, is it worth investing time and money into optimizing it? Probably not so much. As organic traffic is good but as you don’t know what is the algorithm to get picked up by Google for the PAA boxes, it is much easier to look for other known ways of SEO to give the much-needed impetus to improve ranking.