In a previous article I discussed the “Featured Snippet,” an upfront answer to the search term now appearing at the top Google spot for some search terms. Today, let’s take a closer look at the People Also Ask section and its new format that Google is testing these days.

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Right now, the People Also Ask section appears at position #2 or #3 for many of the search terms for which the Featured Snippets are displayed. The section contains 4-5 (or more) popular questions related to the search term. Click on any of the questions, and you can see the answer to that question along with the URL of the page where the answer comes from.

Interestingly, the pages in the People Also Ask section don’t necessarily have to be on page #1 for the current search term. Google is also reportedly testing another variation of the PAA section, which looks like this:

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So, how does it affect your website?

For one thing, you’re now left with only 8 (or sometimes even fewer) organic spots on page #1, instead of 10. This is excluding the images and news results. If you were barely hanging on to the bottom of the first page, the introduction of the featured snippet and People Also Ask sections might bump you out.

Also, the user will have to scroll further down to reach the lower results, something that many of the users won’t like to do, particularly if they’re using mobile or have already found the answer to their question in the Featured Snippet or People Also Ask sections.

This might look like a bit of a challenge if you want to secure your position on page #1. But I think it’s more of an opportunity to get your site cross-featured for several other search terms.

For instance, your site may be nowhere close to page #1 for the search term “public cloud.” But it may still show up in the People Also Ask section, provided you secure the Featured Snippet results for another question (e.g. ‘cloud technology’).

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How can your site appear in the PAA section?

Your first step should be to look for frequently asked questions in your niche and provide authentic, succinct answers within properly optimized pages. The second step is to mark up the relevant text (or answer) using the appropriate Schema code.  You can also mark up a related image, which will display alongside the definition in the Featured Snippet.

Practically, it may not be as easy as it sounds. There may be higher authority domain already hosting the answers to most of the questions you can think of. Investing your time and energy on such questions may be wasteful. So you need to do quite a bit of research to find the right questions to answer. But if you are successful in getting featured only for a handful of queries, two things will happen.

  1. You will appear twice on Google page #1 for the term for which you secure the Featured Snippet result
  2. You may get featured in the People Also Ask section for 4-5 or more related questions (or search terms)

This could seriously increase your exposure and traffic. The best thing is that currently very few marketers are targeting the Featured Snippets, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for small businesses to beat bigger competitors to the top results.

Do you think it’s worth giving a shot. I sure do!