Unveiling the Power of ‘People Also Ask’ (PAA)

In the intricate web of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), one feature has emerged as a silent powerhouse – which is called ‘People Also Ask’ (PAA).

In this comprehensive exploration, I am going to explain the intricacies of PAA, uncovering its evolution. I will also explore the key insights, and a strategic guide for optimizing content.

While the digital landscape constantly evolves, understanding and leveraging PAA is becoming increasingly essential for a successful SEO strategy.

The Evolution of PAA: A Brief Overview

The PAA feature, introduced by Google in April 2015, has transformed into a critical facet of SEO and content strategies. Data reveals a radical increase in the prevalence of PAA boxes, now appearing in approximately 40-42% of both desktop and mobile Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

The study presents a snapshot of the shifting dynamics in Google’s search features.

People Also Asked (Google Search)
People Also Asked (Google Search)

Key Findings: Navigating the PAA Landscape

  1. PAA’s Ubiquity and Growth:
    • PAA boxes are present in almost half of all searches within the dataset, showcasing a remarkable growth trend.
    • The study highlights that Google utilizes PAA for query refinement, opening up opportunities for first-page visibility on previously broad search terms.
  2. Applicability Across Industries:
    • A PAA SEO strategy proves effective across various sectors, with industry-specific breakdowns guiding the allocation of optimization efforts.
  3. Opportunities and Risks for Big Brands:
    • Big brands have the chance to control answers in PAA boxes on branded search terms, but this also comes with potential risks.
  4. Coexistence with Organic Rankings:
    • Unlike featured snippets, it is possible to appear in a PAA box and hold a standard organic ranking on the first page of Google.
  5. High Visibility and Click-Through Rates:
    • PAA results often appear within the top 3 results, providing a substantial chance of high visibility.
    • When a PAA result appears, it is within the top 3 results 75% of the time.
  6. Content Formats and Opportunities:
    • Text-based content is predominant in PAA results, with 48% of PAA boxes exclusively from text in paragraphs.
    • Untapped opportunities exist for video content within PAA boxes, where suitable text results are unavailable.

Decoding the ‘People Also Ask’ Box!

As per my point of view understanding the mechanics of the PAA box is crucial for effective optimization. The PAA box is an interactive feature displaying questions related to the original search query.

Clicking on a question reveals a snippet answer from a website, simultaneously prompting new questions to be added dynamically to the PAA box.

This is a wide process and high range of relevant FAQs list pop-down on every click.

PAA’s Role in Featured Snippets

The “People Also Asked” (PAA) feature appears in search results as a set of related questions that users might find relevant to their initial query.

These questions are generated algorithmically based on user behavior and search patterns. When users click on one of these questions in the PAA section, it expands to reveal a brief answer, often taken directly from a web page that ranks well for the corresponding question.

Now, here’s where the connection with featured snippets comes into play. Featured snippets are concise, direct answers extracted from web pages that Google showcases at the top of search results. When your content appears in the PAA section, especially if it provides high-quality, relevant answers to the questions, it increases the likelihood of your content being featured in a snippet.

Elevating Your Content with Featured Snippets:

Securing a spot in the PAA feature can be advantageous for your content’s visibility, but the real SEO gold lies in featured snippets.

Featured snippets are prominent placements that can significantly increase your click-through rates and establish your content as an authoritative source.

Strategies to Secure a Featured Snippet:

  1. Provide Clear Answers: Craft your content to provide clear and concise answers to common user queries. Use structured content with well-defined headers and bullet points to make it easy for search engines to extract relevant information.
  2. Use Descriptive Subheadings: Break down your content into sections with descriptive subheadings. This not only enhances readability for users but also makes it easier for search engines to understand the structure and content of your page.
  3. Optimize for Key Phrases: Identify key phrases and questions that users are likely to ask. Incorporate these naturally into your content, especially in headers and subheadings.
  4. Focus on User Intent: Understand the intent behind user queries and create content that addresses that intent comprehensively. This increases the chances of your content being selected for featured snippets.
  5. Leverage Schema Markup: Implementing schema markup can provide additional context to search engines about the content on your page, potentially increasing the chances of being selected for featured snippets.

By strategically optimizing your content for both the “People Also Asked” feature and featured snippets, you can maximize your visibility in search results and position your website as a go-to source for user queries. Keep in mind that SEO strategies should be regularly reviewed and adapted to align with evolving search engine algorithms and user behavior.

PAA vs. Featured Snippets: A Comparative Analysis

The study draws a compelling comparison between PAA and featured snippets, revealing that PAA results are six times more likely to appear within a SERP than featured snippet results.

This emphasizes the growing significance of PAA in Google’s strategy to deliver quick and concise answers directly on the search results page.

This is most likely because a significant portion of search queries in the search engines are based on frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Frequency of PAA Results Across Devices

Data illustrates a consistent rise in the frequency of PAA results on both mobile and desktop platforms.

PAA results appeared in approximately 49.37% of search results for desktop and 52.27% for mobile within the analyzed dataset.

This helps user to find most nearest queries if they are willing to explore them through these suggestions by Google.

Industry Variances in PAA Presence

Analyzing PAA presence across 25 industries uncovers variations from a minimum of 9.5% in Real Estate to a maximum of 64.2% in Computers & Electronics.

This sheds light on the differing intents of searches within various sectors, influencing the likelihood of PAA appearances.

Brand Protection and PAA

The study delves into brand protection with PAA, showcasing that most major brands trigger PAA regardless of their industry.

This emphasizes the need for brands to audit and secure ownership of PAA answers for both brand protection and competitive advantage.

Positioning of PAA Boxes in SERPs

Over 58% of the time, the PAA block appears after the first organic result, with more than 75% of PAA results featuring in the top 3 results of Google.

This positioning solidifies PAA as one of the most consistent and visible search features.

Can PAA Boxes Help You Rank Twice on Page 1?

Contrary to featured snippets, it is possible to have a presence inside a PAA box and rank on the first page of results. The study reveals that 13% of sites within the PAA box also hold a top 3 ranking.

This presents an intriguing opportunity for sites, particularly those with less authority, to gain visibility on the first page.

The Role of Query Length in PAA Appearance

The study identifies a correlation between query length and PAA appearance. Longer keywords and more complex search queries are more likely to trigger PAA results.

As the number of words and specificity of the query increase, the occurrence of PAA boxes also rises.

Types of Queries Triggering PAA

PAA boxes are commonly triggered by queries starting with question words such as “what,” “why,” “when,” “where,” and “who.”

Queries starting with these terms trigger PAA 86% of the time.

The study suggests structuring content around the intended question for optimal visibility. Which is also consider to include FAQs as the part of your content if it fulfills the intent of user.

Content Analysis within PAA Boxes

Understanding what types of content are found within PAA boxes is crucial for effective optimization. The study reveals four types of blocks that can appear when clicking on a PAA question:

  • Paragraphs: 79% of PAA boxes consist of paragraphs taken from website content.
  • Lists: Lists comprise a smaller percentage of PAA results.
  • Videos: Video content remains an untapped opportunity.
  • Tables: Tables offer a format for displaying more data within PAA results.

Leveraging the ‘People Also Ask’ Feature

With the rise of PAA and increasing competition for SERP features, a viable action plan is essential.

  1. Get an Overview of Existing SERP Features:
    • Utilize tools to assess whether your target keywords trigger PAA features.
    • Analyze competitors’ positions to understand the competitive landscape.
  2. Find Missing PAA Opportunities:
    • Use Organic Research to identify keywords your domain already ranks for that are not generating PAA results.
    • Optimize content to fill gaps and capitalize on untapped PAA opportunities.
  3. Steal the Spotlight From Competitors:
    • Identify competitors’ high-ranking keywords not appearing in SERP features.
    • Optimize content to secure PAA features for keywords your competitors may be missing.
  4. Get Content Ideas to Win PAA SERP Features:
    • Explore tools to gather PAA data for specific keywords.
    • Use tools for content ideas and phrases triggering PAA.
  5. Check If Your Content Meets SEO Requirements:
    • Ensure your content addresses specific user queries from an SEO standpoint.
    • Use tools for suggestions on proper SEO optimization.
  6. Define a Specific PAA Strategy:
    • Develop a targeted strategy for increasing visibility within PAA features.
    • Lead your SEO strategy with PAA tactics to secure placements ahead of traditional rankings.


In a search landscape where answers matter, mastering the ‘People Also Ask’ feature can be the key to unlocking SEO success. With PAA becoming a prominent search feature, having a specific strategy to leverage its potential is vital. Aligning your digital presence with PAA is not just about current SEO trends; it’s a strategic move to future-proof your search strategy.

As Google’s focus on user intent and knowledge graphs intensifies, embedding your digital presence within this evolving landscape is essential. PAA features provide a unique opportunity to deliver quick, concise answers directly on the search results page, making it a valuable asset in the ever-expanding world of intelligent search.

Muhammad Nizam Ud Deen Usman

NizamUdDeen is a SEO Observer & digital marketing consultant with close to a decade of experience. He is currently living in Multan, Pakistan. He is the founder and SEO Lead Consultant at ORM Digital Solutions - An exclusive SEO consultancy providing company in advanced SEO and digital strategies.

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