People Also Ask

What are People Also Ask Boxes? How can you get featured in one? Can they make a difference? What types of queries trigger PAA boxes? We’re answering all of these questions and more in today’s post, so keep on reading! 

People Also Ask Boxes

What is People Also Ask?

This is a section that Google implemented a long time ago in an attempt to switch from a search engine to a so-called ‘knowledge engine’. It’s not exactly beneficial for people who own a website since not being in a PAA box can effectively make it very hard for you to get clicks even if your pages are getting ranked on the first page of the search. 

Based on a study published by SEMRush, PAA results appear in approximately 49.5% of the search results for desktop users and over 52% of search results for mobile users. 



According to the same study, PAA boxes show up right after the first organic result (and ads, of course) in approximately 60% of all cases. This means that marketers should aim at being showcased in a PAA box and occupying the first position on the first page for a query – which is very, very hard to do. 

In fact, the SEMRush report notes that 13% of the first organic results are showcased in the PAA box, too. 

One of the most important features of a PAA box is that it’s practically endless. If a user wants to spend time on Google alone and doesn’t necessarily want to check the resource that the search engine is citing for the answer, they can do so. 

Another common characteristic of most PAA boxes is that they display answers in the form of simple text. Based on the SEMRush study that we have been referencing, lists and tables are two other popular answers — although the lists appeared in 13.8% of the cases and tables in just 4.3% of them. 


Longer answers are preferred by Google, so paragraphs are better than just one sentence answering the question. Most lists have an average of 5 to 6 items and the tables have an average of 9 rows and at least 2 columns. 

It’s true that Google has been experimenting with testing videos in People Also Ask sections, but it’s less likely to be something that’s going to stick — also because it’s not as easy to load, and some folks just want a quick answer to their question, so they have to click on the next part of the box. 

Have today’s PAA boxes always looked the same?

No. Both Google and Bing have experimented a lot with their People Also Ask sections, but one of the most important developments that rolled out was dynamic loading, which was implemented by Google back in 2017. Up to that moment, the user could only view up to three or four related additional questions. 

Bing, on the other hand, has been experimenting a lot with providing people with PAA boxes even when they do not ask a question. 

For example, if someone looks for the name of a song in Bing, they aren’t going to come across just the related video or Wikipedia page, but they’ll also see a PAA section of related questions, such as when it was launched, what it is about, who sings it, and other such details. (based on what Search Engine Land found)

Brand recognition and People Also Ask Sections

There are several reasons why PAA boxes can be particularly useful for brands. On the one hand, if you own a company that either offers services, sells or even manufactures products, you can check the PAA boxes related to your brand to see what user intent people have with regard to you. 



But on the other, you can steal the results from other websites (Quora, Reddit, or any other places where people go to complain about or praise someone’s services) by answering the questions right on your company website. 

So you can achieve two things – let people know about what you do and how you can meet their needs right from the search engine, but also get clicks and improve your CTR and potentially increase your sales, too! 

People Also Ask Sections and types of keywords

It seems that PAA boxes are triggered by longtail keywords. Actually, about 70% of keywords containing as many as 10 words are capable of triggering People Also Ask boxes whereas those that have just 3 words can trigger PAA sections in just under 50% of the cases. 

So, the more specific the question, the higher the likelihood of being featured in Google People Also Ask box. To give you an example, just 16% of the questions that trigger a PAA box contain just one word, but 28% have a possibility to trigger both a snippet and a PAA section. 

Different types of queries 

PAA boxes are mostly triggered by questions, although it is true that in some situations, they can show up even when someone is looking for a simple term, like the name of a company, a band, a product, or anything else. 

The most common questions that trigger PAA sections start with the following words:

  • Why
  • What
  • Where
  • Who
  • When

Other popular ways to ask a question are ‘can’ (91% of the cases), ‘does’ (93% of the cases), or ‘are’ (95% of the cases). ‘Is’ is another alternative, since it usually triggers 95% in People Also Ask boxes and a whopping 82% of featured snippets. 



Why do PAA boxes matter?

There are roughly two reasons why PAA sections are so important. On the one hand, they’re not exactly helpful for marketers as the user might end up in a loop and continue using the PAA instead of visiting any of the websites that provide an answer to their question. 

But on the other hand, being featured in a PAA box raises the likelihood of you getting clicks and traffic, so it improves your click-through-rate, which is a quite important ranking factor. 

What benefits can being featured in the People Also Ask section can you get?

So one thing’s for sure – PAA boxes are here and it’s very likely that they’re not going anywhere. But do you get any benefits from being featured in one? Well, yes and no. 

On the one hand, you can lose potentially valuable traffic since the user gets the answer to their question off the bat, and might not be interested in going in-depth and read the rest of your article. But on the other hand, you do get more exposure, traffic, and a better CTR. 

But based on a study performed by Backlinko, just 3% of all Google users interact with a PAA box. What does this mean for you? First of all, this number varies depending on the query, so it’s unfair to think that in general, only 3% of all people who perform Google searches use the People Also Ask section.

Secondly, why does it matter? If the keyword (query) that you are targeting has thousands in search volume, even 3% can make a difference if you get people to click on your link and you increase your traffic. 

Sure, it might not be worth the effort for keywords that just one hundred folks look for every month. But for high search volume ones, it definitely does not hurt. The same Backlinko study notes that in some cases, the number can get as high as 13.6% in PAA interactions. 

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For a query with a 50K monthly search volume, 13.6% really isn’t bad. Also, keep in mind that if you manage to get one feature, it might just as well be featured in several other related PAA boxes — since once they’re in the loop, users can continue to look at other questions and find your answers, too. 

How to get in the ‘People Also Ask’ section

Make sure your keyword research process is on par

First of all, not all queries are eligible for a snippet or a PAA box, either because not enough people are looking for it, or because the answers might not be satisfactory enough to improve a user’s experience. 

Try to find the best keywords and also look at your top pages. Those have a much better chance of triggering a PAA box than your other posts. 

Find the best keywords you’re ranking for or want to rank for

You can use SEMRush or Ahrefs for this task, but it really doesn’t matter. Make sure to have a look at what your competitors are targeting and the questions they are answering to potentially ‘steal’ the People Also Ask section feature from them. 

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As previously mentioned, the higher the search volume, the higher your chances of increasing your CTR and your traffic, so try to find keywords that people haven’t targeted before and answer the questions as best as possible. 

Optimize your content strategy

If you’re in the business of buying and selling websites or if you have dozens or hundreds of affiliate sites, you need to create a winning strategy that you can implement for the future. It needs to contain an FAQ section. 



For instance, if you create a page for the ‘best turtleneck sweaters for men’ and you’ve noticed that folks also have questions regarding this type of product, you can modify your article templates and ask your content writers to look for questions in SEO tools or in the ‘related searches’ section of the search engine. 

Add FAQs to your most valuable pages

This is perhaps the easiest and most convenient change that you can make – look at your top pages, create a list, and then add FAQ sections to each and every one of them. Make sure that they’re unique, though, since you do not want to answer the same questions on several different pages, especially with the same answers. 

Also, manually look for the query you are interested in targeting since you might not be aware of it, but you could already be featured in a People Also Ask section. Of course, optimizing your pages even more definitely doesn’t hurt, but your efforts might be more valuable elsewhere. 

Do not forget that pages that are present on the first page of the search results have a higher likelihood of grabbing the PAA box feature — so if you’re on page 10, you might as well not bother… at least not yet. You can get to those pages later on. 

Should you use Schema?

This is a pretty difficult question. If you take the time to look at a hundred PAA boxes, you’ll see that there are answers in them coming from websites that use and don’t use Schema alike. 

You do not need to use Schema to be featured in the ‘People Also Ask’ section, so we would recommend against bothering to implement it if you have zero experience with it and you can’t afford to pay someone to do it for yourself. 

Can Schema help your chances of being featured in a PAA box? We don’t know at this time since both Schema and non-Schema pages and posts end up in this section. 

Google still has to experiment a lot with structured data, so if you can use a FAQ Schema plugin, at least that one would be helpful. 

In any case, using Schema definitely doesn’t hurt (so long as you are using the correct plugins) as it can make the search engines better understand your content and also get your site featured in more and more of Google’s experiments. 

Do all the questions trigger ‘People Also Ask’ boxes?

The short answer to this question is NO. In some cases, Google gives the user the answer in a featured snippet. Sometimes, People Also Ask boxes appear right under the snippets, but at other times, they do not exist at all. 

Under most circumstances, questions trigger PAA boxes, and there can be so many of them that you can end up in a never-ending Google’s People-Also-Ask related questions loop. 

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 20 years.

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