Google has learned that the”People also ask” (PAA) box format works well to satisfy queries. Google’s goal in PAA and other features is to make page 1 of search so comprehensive that searchers increasingly find their answers right there without having to click to another page.
We drilled down into our data to best advise our clients how this question-and-answer trend could help them reach their stakeholders more effectively. What we discovered enabled our CEO, Sam Michelson, to come up with some concrete suggestions for companies and executives, which he recently published in Forbes.
Here’s a summary of what we found out:
Here’s Sam’s advice for companies and CEOs, as originally published in Forbes:
Own some answers.
Owned sites are often a source of answers to common questions. Companies, following a best practices optimization strategy for their websites, can help those become a trusted source of leading information on the results page. This would include, for example, a robust FAQ section based on real research into what people are asking and providing answers in the area of your company’s expertise to capture the PAA for that question cluster.
Develop a presence on Wikipedia.
Google prefers Wikipedia pages in its results. It also relies heavily on Wikipedia for both PAA box information as well as the Knowledge Panel, the box on the top right of search which summarizes information about a searched brand or individual. It is therefore essential to work with the Wikipedia community to ensure your company (and CEO’s) Wikipedia pages are updated and accurate.
Maintain structured data.
The above findings also underscore the importance of maintaining structured, up-to-date data about yourself and your company online (i.e., Google My Business, Schema, Wikidata), as this information echoes throughout Google’s page one, especially for CEOs.
Target your earned media.
Since we know that the PAA box sources its answers heavily from certain business sites, it would be worthwhile, when working with PR companies, to try to place stories specifically on those sites.
Assessing what questions people ask, basing some of your content around those, and leading readers to the information you most want them to discover will be meeting your market where they are instead of simply telling them what you want to say.
With so much of the territory unchartable, companies taking control of what they can is essential. Using all available platforms to both ask and answer searcher questions, and taking them down a path that both satisfies their search and helps the company tell its story, is a win-win.