Google’s People Also Ask Box: What is it and How to Optimize for it?

by Tiffany Current on November 28, 2016

If you’ve recently performed a search in Google, you may have noticed a People Also Ask box. It’s an expandable box in Google search results that shows a series of questions related to the query you searched for. For example, if you search for “lunar eclipse,” you may see this:

Google's People Also Ask box

When you click on one of the questions, the box expands to display the answer along with a link back to the original source material. There’s also a clickable link, which generates a new search in Google for the same question. This is similar to Google’s “related searches” feature at the bottom of a search results page.

Expanded People Also Ask box

The People Also Ask box, first seen in April 2015 by Search Engine Roundtable, has been displaying more frequently in Google’s search results. If you are looking for a way to increase your company’s share of voice in Google, this may be a good option.

How Do You Appear in the People Also Ask Box?

1) Identify a question that your site can answer well

You probably already know your top priority keywords. To find out how people are using them in question form, try one of the following approaches:

  • Type your keyword into Google’s search box, then type “what,” “how,” “why,” and other question words to see which questions show up in the results. Keywords like “type” or “difference” can help you find questions people are using to compare products.
  • Use a keyword research tool (we like the Google AdWords Keyword Planner) to find questions or informational searches that people use with your keywords. You may discover these suggestions are already appearing in Google’s People Also Ask box. For instance, if you search for “Himalayan salt” in the Keyword Planner, you’ll see the following results:

     

    keyword planner sample resultBy looking at these suggestions, you might guess that questions about the benefits of Himalayan pink salt are also showing up in search results, and you’d be right:

    Sample Google People Also Ask box in SERP
    It’s best to focus your efforts on optimizing for questions that Google is already showing in the search results.

2) Create a webpage or blog post that’s dedicated to answering the question

For best results, the page should be text-heavy, and clearly and accurately worded. If possible, include the question or informational search query in the URL structure of the page and HTML title.

Your page does not need to be in Q&A format, but you should include the gist of the question and the answer in close proximity on the page. For example, the page that Google has selected to answer the question “How can I save money on college textbooks?” does not have that exact question on the page. Instead, it uses part of that phrase within its headline “8 Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks.”

If creating a new webpage isn’t an option, try finessing one that’s a close fit to the question you want to answer. Just make sure to choose a page that already ranks well for your top priority keywords.

By following the steps above, you may increase the likelihood that your website’s content could appear in Google’s People Also Ask box.

We’ve been helping customers improve their search engine ranks and conversion rates for over a decade. We consult on SEO and social media for major brands, one-person shops, and everything in between. Get in touch to find out how we can help you!

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