Should You Create a Website That Only Answers “People Also Ask” Questions? The Pros, Cons, and Best Practices
People Also Ask (PAA) boxes have become a staple of Google search results.
These handy boxes provide quick answers to related questions that users may have about their main query.
For website owners, optimizing content around PAA questions presents an enticing opportunity – you can target informational keywords and increase visibility in the SERPs.
But is it a good idea to create an entire website that only focuses on answering PAA questions?
Or could this be seen as manipulative or “over-optimized” by Google?
In this post, we’ll explore the pros, cons, and best practices around optimizing specifically for PAA questions with your content strategy.
The Potential Benefits of a PAA Focused Content Strategy
Answering People Also Ask questions can offer some advantages:
You Can Target Informational User Intent
The questions in the PAA boxes provide insight into the specific information needs of searchers.
By creating content around these questions, you can laser focus on delivering the exact information users are looking for.
PAA Questions Identify Keyword Gaps
Looking at PAA questions can help reveal keyword opportunities you may have missed.
For example, you may not have thought to create content around a question like “how long does it take to recover from XYZ surgery?”
But if it shows up in your PAA boxes, you know there is user interest.
Can Increase Visibility for Important Keywords
If you answer a PAA question thoroughly, you may start ranking for that previously untargeted term.
This can expand your visibility for more keywords and traffic sources.
Opportunity to Outrank Existing Results
For some PAA questions, the current top results may not provide very detailed or helpful information.
By supplying a comprehensive answer, you have a good chance of outranking existing thin or poor-quality content.
Can Provide a Source of Ongoing Content Inspiration
Regularly checking your site’s PAA boxes gives you an easy way to generate new content ideas as Google identifies new user questions over time.
This provides built-in inspiration for your content team.
Potential Downsides to Focusing Exclusively on PAA Questions
However, relying entirely on PAA questions for your content comes with some risks:
Could Be Seen as “Over-Optimized”
Google may view a site that only focuses on ranking for PAA questions as manipulative or overly SEO-optimized.
They want to see comprehensive content, not just content targeting keywords.
Provides Limited Content Types
Questions typically lead to list/FAQ-style content. Creating only this format means missing out on other content opportunities like how-to guides, comparisons, data-driven content, etc.
Duplicate Content Risks
If other sites already have the same PAA questions and you simply reword their answers, that’s duplicate content.
Google will likely penalize your site for unoriginal low-value content.
PAA Questions Can Vary Regionally
The questions that show up in PAA boxes can differ based on the searcher’s location.
So if you only optimize for specific questions, your content may not rank or be useful globally.
Google May Change How PAA Works
Google frequently updates their algorithms and SERP features.
If they reduced the importance of PAA boxes, it could negatively impact sites relying on them for traffic.
Thin Content Perceptions
Focusing solely on answering PAA questions could result in skimpy, thin content if you only provide bare minimum answers.
This can hurt perceptions of your site’s authority and value.
As you can see, while optimizing for PAAs has some potential SEO benefits, there are also considerable risks involved with relying entirely on this strategy.
Best Practices for PAA-Focused Content
If you do want to optimize some of your content around People Also Ask questions, here are some best practices to follow:
Provide Truly Helpful, Detailed Answers
Don’t just paraphrase the question or give a bare minimum answer.
Include context, examples, images/video, and actionable advice that goes beyond the PAA question.
Show users your site offers the depth they need.
Follow Google’s Guidelines
Carefully adhere to Google’s rules around creating original, substantive content.
Avoid keyword stuffing, scraping content from other sites, or other manipulative tactics.
Monitor Results and Adjust
Keep an eye on your site’s metrics related to PAA content – rankings, traffic, engagement, etc.
If you see declines, it may be time to diversify your strategy.
Balance with Other Content
Don’t rely entirely on PAA-focused content. Maintain a healthy mix of guides, data-driven content, reviews, comparisons, and other formats.
Localize When Possible
If targeting global audiences, consider adjusting answers to include region-specific information when possible.
Don’t just rely on generic, non-localized content.
Cite sources for any facts, quotes, or figures you include in your PAA answers.
This improves credibility.
Diversify Link Building
Don’t only build links related to your PAA-optimized content.
Create a natural, diverse backlink profile that shows expertise beyond just basic Q&A information.
FAQs Around Content Marketing and PAA Questions
Still have questions about optimizing your content for People Also Ask boxes?
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
Are PAA questions a reliable source of content inspiration long-term?
Google frequently updates the algorithm that determines which questions appear in the PAA boxes.
So while they can provide some initial ideas, it’s risky to rely on them as an ongoing primary content source.
You’re better off using multiple research methods to identify content topics.
Can I include PAA-focused content as part of a larger content strategy?
Absolutely! Optimizing some of your content around PAA questions can be fine as part of a diversified content plan.
Just don’t make it the only type of content you produce. Maintain a healthy mix of content formats and topics.
How often should I revisit my site’s PAA questions for new content ideas?
Checking your PAA questions every 1-2 months is a good cadence.
This allows you to find opportunities where Google has identified new or changed user questions.
But don’t become overly reliant on PAAs as an idea source.
If my PAA content stops ranking well, what should I do?
Take a close look at whether Google’s algorithms may have changed or if your site has been penalized.
Assuming there are no manual action penalties, refreshing the content or diversifying to other topics could help get rankings back on track.
Monitor results closely and pivot strategies if needed.
Is PAA content seen as lower quality than other formats?
Not necessarily – if done well. The question-and-answer format can be very user-friendly for searchers.
But your answers must go beyond the basic question with helpful details and multimedia.
Well-researched, comprehensive PAA content can earn high-quality perceptions.
People Also Ask question present an interesting opportunity for content marketers and SEO experts.
When used judiciously as part of a diverse content strategy, optimizing some content to target PAA questions can drive traffic and increase visibility for key phrases.
However, relying entirely on PAA questions for your content carries risks of thin content, duplication, and Google penalties.
The best approach is to incorporate PAA optimization as one component of an integrated strategy focused on creating value for users, not just targeting keywords.
Monitor your performance closely, follow Google’s guidelines, and adjust your methods when needed.
With the right balance of PAA and non-PAA content, you can leverage this SERP feature while avoiding potential downsides.