July 27, 2022

What Is Google’s “People Also Ask” Feature?

By: Mary Hiers

“People Also Ask” is a Google search engine results feature. It has only been around since 2015. It anticipates questions you may have when you do a Google search.

Think about the “olden days” of Google search, say before 2010. You typed in a query and received a list of links. You picked a link to visit to hopefully get the information you needed.

Google has added many features that increase the chances that you will find the exact answer you need on the results page itself. When this happens, you don’t have to click on a link in the search results to find answers.

People Also Ask is one of these features. In fact, it is the most popular feature on Google search results pages. 

It curates the answers to its questions from websites that have relevant, high-quality, and authoritative answers. One of those websites could be yours.

What Is the ‘People Also Ask’ Box?

This is what one looks like:

About half the time you perform a Google search, the answers will include a result that says “People Also Ask,” followed by a short list of questions.

You can click on one of the questions and receive an answer without having to leave the results page. When you click on a question, more questions are automatically generated, as you can see in this example.

The additional questions that appear are designed to be the types of questions people ask once they get a preliminary answer. Presumably, the more you click, the more you can learn. As you continue to click, you get more answers, often curated from several different websites.

The People Also Ask feature doesn’t appear in every search. It is more likely to appear when your query is in the form of a question. There is no known way to force a People Also Ask feature to appear in search results.

People Also Ask, Zero Clicks, and SEO

“Zero clicks” refers to answers that appear on the search results page. In other words, they require zero additional clicks to find your answer. 

People Also Ask is one type of zero-click answer. Other zero-click features include knowledge panels, featured snippets, maps, and calculators. 

Zero click answers cut two ways in terms of SEO. If your website happens to be the source of a zero-click answer, it’s great! 

But zero click answers frequently mean the searcher doesn’t click on any other search engine results. Therefore, if your website is not the source of a zero-click answer, you may get less search traffic. 

Some content creators dislike zero-click content. They contend that Google is stealing clicks they could be getting. But as of now, Google has given no indication they will cut back on zero-click features.

Maximize Your Chances of Being in People Also Ask

There are things you can do to increase the chances of your website content being in a People Also Ask answer. One way is to research questions in a People Also Ask feature that is directly related to your area of expertise. Then answer those questions on your website. 

You Can’t Game the System

Writing an article in question-answer format, with relevant keywords in both the questions and answers can boost your chances of getting into a People Also Ask feature. But there’s no reason to try to write all of your content that way. 

People have learned time and again that trying to “game the system” by trying to match content to alleged Google preferences ultimately backfires. Writing all your content in question-answer format in hopes of getting into a lot of People Also Ask features is not a good idea.

Content Quality and UX

Two practices, however, can increase the likelihood of being in a People Also Ask answer: high-quality content and great user experience (UX) on your site.

High-quality content is valuable beyond its ripeness for picking and putting into People Also Ask features. It captivates people who arrive at your site in any manner, whether through organic search, social media, or an ad.

Good website UX is foundational to good SEO. Ignore user experience, and you can drive frustrated users away, even if your content is terrific. Therefore it’s important to ensure page load speed is fast, links are live, and your site navigation is excellent.

Fundamentals of SEO Always Apply

There is nothing involved in trying to make it into a People Also Ask answer that’s any different from normal SEO. Focus on these SEO foundations and you’ll increase your chances of being featured in a zero-click answer:

  • Audit content regularly for SEO elements
  • Create a meta description for every page or blog post
  • Optimize content for relevant keywords
  • Write the highest quality content possible
  • Include title tags and alt tags with relevant keywords

Quality No Matter What

Meta descriptions, title tags, and keywords can’t save bad content. If you invest your time in learning one thing to increase your website’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, invest in writing good content.

Google won’t select information for People Also Ask features from websites with poor-quality content, so learn from sites that they do select. What are the tone, sentence length, and complexity of the answers they feature?

Intent Becoming More Important

Also bear in mind that Google is evolving toward intent-based search. That means it wants to understand the terms in your queries, and it also wants to understand what you’re getting at by asking. 

How would you describe your clients or customers? What do your clients ask you? Do they know the correct industry jargon to use, or do they use everyday terms that make sense to them? 

You probably decipher intent when you speak with clients or customers so you can offer them exactly what they need. Google is trying to do the same thing.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

While zero-click searches are more common than they were a decade ago, putting all your efforts toward being part of a zero-click answer would be an exercise in frustration. Put your efforts into solid, timeless SEO.

There is one exception that every business should undertake, however. That is completing your Google Business Profile and verifying it. This not only increases your chances of being a zero-click result for local searches but also fortifies your overall SEO. 

With search engines evolving constantly, it can be challenging to try to keep up. Your best bet is to focus on the fundamentals, especially high-quality content. 

If you need help with the many evolving facets of SEO, we can help! Schedule a call with our team, and we can discuss how to raise your profile and put your website to work for you as a powerful sales tool.

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