What Is People Also Ask? 5 Ways To Optimize For PAA

"People Also Ask" displays additional questions and answers related to the user's initial query. These questions generally appear at the top portion of the Google search results page (SERP), after the first organic listing.

As such, having your content featured in Google's "People Also Ask" is key to enhancing your search engine optimization efforts.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about "People Also Ask" optimization and how you can leverage this tactic to its full potential.

What you will learn

  • What Google's "People Also Ask" feature is and how it works.  
  • Why "People Also Ask" is useful for both searchers and website owners.
  • How to adjust your content strategy to show up in "People Also Ask."
  • How to use "People Also Ask" to improve your content.

What is "People Also Ask"?

"People Also Ask" (PAA) is an interactive Google search functionality that provides a series of questions closely related to users' initial search queries. These questions are displayed under an expandable box.

For example, here's how the PAA section looks if we type in "black tea" in the search bar.

Users can then click on a specific question and the answer will appear via a drop-down format.

PAA boxes also populate with new queries every time users click on a specific question, creating a seemingly endless flow of questions.

PAA answers are pulled from web pages that discuss topics related to these questions in detail, and can come under various formats—most commonly under short paragraphs, bulleted lists, or tables—but they can also cover images, videos, or mixed formats.

So, how does Google know what questions to include in PAA boxes?

Google's algorithms use machine learning to analyze several factors, including the user's search history, search trends, user intent, or how people interact with PAA boxes. Google then uses that information to generate secondary questions relevant to each specific topic.

PAA boxes don't necessarily include questions with high search volumes, though—they instead cover queries that Google's algorithms consider as most relevant to related topics.

Why is "People Also Ask" important?

PAA helps users narrow their search and uncover more in-depth information—especially those who aren't completely sure of what they're looking for or how to phrase their queries.

People Also Ask can be important to reveal related questions that a user may not have considered initially, but can help provide more information for their search.

From a website owner's perspective, having a page featured in the PAA section increases online visibility, which helps boost organic traffic and brand awareness.

PAA results often occupy more real estate than traditional search results.

The snippets of information shared in a PAA answer give visitors more incentive to visit the web page and read more on the topic.

A website's answers can also appear in multiple questions under the same PAA box—it takes up even more screen space and further increases the chances of driving more traffic.

Since the PAA section includes questions related to a specific topic, it's also an excellent resource for topic ideation and keyword research.

For instance, here's what the PAA box displays after we type "How to write a good headline?" in the search bar.

If we were to write a blog post about this topic, we could draw inspiration from some of the questions in the PAA box and talk about these ideas in detail.

For example, Surfer's window summarizes these topics and questions so you can use them within your editing workflow.

How does "People Also Ask" work?

Google takes into account common search trends around specific topics and user intent to identify and list questions that may be highly relevant to users' search queries. This helps users discover additional information related to a topic.

Here's what the PAA section shows us after we type "MacBook Pro review" in the search bar:

Our query indicates that we are interested in a MacBook Pro product.

The PAA section includes questions that can help us learn more about the product and make a decision, like the device's disadvantages, whether it's worth it, and if it's any better than a MacBook Air or other laptops.

As for PAA answers, they often follow a similar format to those that appear in the Featured Snippets section—Google prioritizes short but highly accurate answers.

In other words, answering popular questions under such formats can increase the chances of having your content displayed in either of the two Google SERP features.

5 steps to show up in “People Also Ask” boxes

We've learnt how Google's People Also Ask feature works and why it's useful. Now let's get into the details and see how to make your content show up in PAA boxes.

Here are 5 tips to optimize your page for the People Also Ask box.

1. Answer concisely

Having just talked about the similarities between PAA and featured snippets, a Semrush study shows that the answers featured in these search result types are 41 words on average.

Again, brevity and accuracy are key—structure your content's sentences specifically to answer PAA questions. Provide actionable advice through clear, concise language that matches the user's query.

Here's how the theory looks in practice.

This is a short paragraph from one of our blog posts. It briefly defines the marketing agency business model in a 45-word paragraph. Here's what it looks like inside the article.

And here's our PAA result when you search for "What is a marketing agency model?"

Google pulled the sentences that describe exactly what a marketing agency business model is.

Notice how the PAA result starts with the second sentence from the example shown in our blog and not with the first one.

That's because the second sentence is more specific and answers the question more accurately.

2. Use questions in headers

Google's algorithms use headers to understand the content's structure and context. The same Semrush study we mentioned also found that 86% of search queries that trigger PAA boxes are question-based.

These queries commonly start with words like "how," "what," "who," "why," and "where."

As such, question-based headers signal to Google's algorithms that the content following them provides the answers.

It also helps them link these headers to search terms that are common among users and further boosts their chances of appearing in the PAA.

Long-tail keywords—lengthier, more specific search terms—are particularly useful here.

Headers that include long-tail keywords reflect the user's search query more appropriately. These keywords are more specific than traditional ones, so they have lower competition and hence, ranking for them can be easier.

Plus, complex and specific queries tend to trigger PAA results more frequently.

For instance, here's what happens if we type "What are the best Samsung phones?"

In other words, comprehensive keyword research should be conducted to identify relevant questions and long-tail search terms.

You can then implement them within your headers where it makes sense.

3. Create FAQ schema

FAQ pages use question-based headers and provide users with short, actionable answers—perfect for PAA optimization.

FAQ Schema Markups can further increase the likelihood of being featured in PAAs.

These HTML code snippets use pre-defined labels to tell search engines what a page is about and allow them to categorize and display answers accordingly.

Here's an example from Google's guidelines on the topic.

The "@type," tags followed by the "FAQPage," "Question," and "Answer" markups signal search engines about the presence of the FAQ page and its components.

Your FAQ page's HTML code should follow a similar format for each question and answer.

Also, run your code through Google's Rich Results Test first to identify and fix any potential errors.

4. Use tools to scrape PAA questions

PAA scrapers help you gain insights into questions that are related to your topic and currently feature in PAA results.

You can use them to get a better idea of how to approach your content and the keywords you should target.

For instance, Surfer's Content Editor makes PAA optimization a breeze.

It automatically pulls common questions and lists them under the Outline tab, along with recommended titles, headings, keywords, and more.

You can also use AnwerThePublic.

Simply type in your seed keyword and the platform will come up with numerous related questions you can target.

5. Write comprehensive content

Brevity is important to get your content featured in PAA boxes, but that doesn't mean posts should be just a few paragraphs long.

Google pulls information from sources it deems authoritative, trustworthy, and that demonstrate expert-level knowledge regarding the topic in question.

It takes a lot more than a couple of paragraphs to do so.

Here's the PAA answer to a question about Apple's rise in popularity, for instance:

The answer is a straightforward 31 word-long paragraph.

But that paragraph is a small piece in a much larger puzzle.

The PAA answer is pulled from a blog post that discusses Apple's history in detail—the blog is almost 2,000 words in length.

In other words, your content should cover the ins and outs of the topic you discuss but also be structured to favor PAA optimization.

That means in-depth content with short, direct sentences and no filler words in between.

How to use PAA questions to improve content

The PAA boxes themselves are an excellent source of inspiration and can play a significant role in your overall content strategy.

Let's see how you can use them to your advantage.

Generate better content coverage

Just as PAA questions help users narrow down their research, they can also help you narrow down your content and offer more in-depth coverage around particular topics.

Suppose you plan to write a blog post about image SEO, but you're still unsure of what content ideas to cover outside explaining what Image SEO is.

Here's how Google's PAA feature could help you out:

The PAA section includes questions about image descriptions, appropriate image types for SEO, how to make images SEO-friendly, and so on which could be great sub-topics.

They also reveal solid secondary keywords related to the main topic, like "image alt tags," and "image titles," for instance.

Remember to use the PAA's auto-populating feature when looking up your topic.

Clicking on a specific query will generate new questions related to it, helping you further narrow down your ideas.

Refresh old pages

Google analyzes search trends to display PAA questions relevant to users' interests at any given time.

In case you have older pages on your website, you can use PAA to uncover new questions regarding your pages and update them accordingly to maintain relevance.

For example, you may have an article on Apple's car project but never followed up on it.

In this case, the PAA section could help the website update the specific article to cover the project's status and the road ahead.

Meet user intent

Since Google generates questions strongly related to users' initial searches, the PAA section is an excellent source of inspiration for crafting quality content that appeals to your target audience and its search intent.

For instance, here are the PAA questions for the "smart watch" seed keyword:

The PAA questions indicate strong informational search intent—users want to learn more about smartwatches.

A buyer's guide that educates users about different types of smartwatches, their average price, and what to look out for when picking one would work well here.

And here's what shows up if we type "best smartwatches" instead:

The PAA now indicates commercial intent—users review their options to make a purchase decision. Product round-ups, reviews, or comparisons may be a solid approach in this particular case.

Track your People Also Ask rankings

Although Google doesn't offer a specific way to track PAA results, there are still two methods by which you can figure out whether your pages are featured in PAA boxes:

Manual searches

Simply look up queries that tie into your website's content and target keywords via the search bar. Check the answers to each PAA question to see whether your site gets cited.

Use the auto-populate PAA feature and try out different keyword variations in the search bar to uncover questions that may be more specific to your pages.

Use Google Search Console

Use Google Search Console to run a query report.

Identify the top search queries for your URLs and use these queries to look for PAA results manually.  

Key Takeaways

  • "People Also Ask" helps searchers uncover more in-depth information related to their queries.
  • PAA questions show up based on search trends, search intent, and user behavior.  
  • Appearing in the "People Also Ask" sections helps websites occupy more SERP real estate and boost organic traffic.
  • In-depth content with clear, concise sentences is key to having content featured in PAA boxes.
  • FAQ pages with the appropriate schema markups can help show in PAA boxes.
  • You can uncover additional PAA opportunities with PAA scrapping tools.
  • You can also use the PAA feature to improve and update your content or find new ideas.


Although PAA optimization is often overlooked by many businesses in favor of more traditional SEO tactics, it can significantly boost your strategy. It helps increase online visibility and potentially drives more traffic to your website.

Besides, optimizing content for PAA results will automatically make it more relevant, readable, and informative, which can also improve your SEO efforts indirectly. Better content means lower bounce rates, higher dwell times, and a better user experience.  

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Screenshot of Surfer SEO Content Editor interface, displaying the 'Essential Content Marketing Metrics' article with a content score of 82/100. The editor highlights sections like 'Key Takeaways' and offers SEO suggestions for terms such as 'content marketing metrics