Posted by AnnSmarty

Have you been optimizing your content for questions? There are a
few powerful reasons for you to start doing it now:

  • Niche question research is the most powerful
    content inspiration
  • Questions are highly engaging: Asking a question
    a natural answering reflex in human beings. Using
    questions on your
    landing pages
    and / or social media will improve
  • Questions are very useful for niche and audience research: What
    can’t people figure out in your industry and how can you best help
  • Question research allows you to understand natural language
    better and optimize for voice search
  • Question optimization allows for increased organic search
    visibility through both featured
    and Google’s “People Also
    ” results.

Just to reinforce the latter point, Google is going a bit insane
with understanding and featuring questions in SERPs. Here’s just
one of their recent experiments showing a multifaceted featured
snippet, addressing a possible follow-up question (courtesy of

multifaceted featured snippets

Types of niche questions and how to group them

  • Basic questions (these usually relate to
    defining concepts). In most cases you don’t need to write lengthy
    explanations because people searching for those seek quick
    easy-to-understand answers.
  • How-to questions (these usually relate to
    step-by-step instructions). Adding videos to better explain the
    process is almost always a good idea here
  • Branded questions (those usually include your
    or your competitor’s brand name or a product name). Like any

    branded queries**
    , these should be further categorized
  • ROPO questions (“research online, buy online /
    offline”). These are specific questions discussing your product,
    its pros and cons, reviews, etc.
    • High-intent questions: for example, questions asking how to buy
      your product.
    • Navigational questions: those addressing your site navigation,
      e.g. “How to login,” “How to cancel,” etc.
    • Competitive research questions: those comparing your brand to
      your competitors.
    • Reputational questions: those questions relating to your brand
      history, culture, etc.

Type of Questions

All branded questions may also be labeled based on possible

** Most basic and how-to questions are going to have
informational intent (simply due to the essence of the question
format: most people asking questions seek to find an answer, i.e.
information). But there’s always a chance there’s a transactional
intent there that you may want to make note of, too.

For example, “What’s the best CRM” may be a query reflecting a
solid commercial intent. Same goes about “How do you use a CRM?”
Both can be asked by someone who is willing to give the software a
try, and this needs to be reflected within your copy and on-page

Tools to discover questions1. People Also Ask

“People Also Ask” is a newer Google search element containing
related questions to a given query. It’s not clear how Google is
generating these (it might be due to enough people typing each
question into the search box), but what we do know for sure is:

  • Google is smart: It would only show things to a user when they
    have found enough evidence that’s helpful and something their users
    engage with
  • “People Also Ask” boxes present more SERPs real estate which we
    may want to dominate for maximum organic search visibility

People Also Ask

With that in mind, People Also Ask results are important for
content marketers on two fronts:

  • They allow us lots of insight into what our target audience
    wants to know
  • They allow us additional organic search visibility

To collect as many People Also Ask results as you can, give
Featured Snippet
a try (disclaimer: This tool has been developed by the
company I work for). It checks your domain’s important search
queries and generates “People Also Ask” results for all of

People Also Ask results

The tool ranks “People Also Ask” questions by the number of
queries they were triggered by. This enables you to quickly see
most popular questions on your topic.

2. Google / Bing SERPs

Search results give us lots of cues beyond People Also Ask
boxes, provided you use smart tools to analyze them. Text Optimizer is a tool that
extracts terms and concepts from SERPs and uses semantic analysis
to come up with the list of questions you may want to include in
your content:

I believe that is partly what Google is doing to generate those
“People Also Ask” suggestions, but this tool will give you more
ideas than “People Also Ask” boxes alone.

It supports Google and Bing. You can also copy-paste your text
in the tool and it will suggest terms and questions to add to
optimize your content better for either search engine.

3. Google Suggest

Google Suggest is another search-based tool for content
marketers. Google Suggest auto-completes a user’s query based on
how other users tend to complete it. This way, we can safely assume
that all Google Suggest results have a solid search volume /
demand, simply because they ended up in the suggest index.

The problem with this one is that you need to know how to start
typing the question to see it properly completed:

Google Suggest

There’s a workaround that forces Google to autocomplete the
middle of the query:

  • Type your core query and hit search
  • Put your cursor back at the beginning of the query
  • Type “how” and Google will suggest more popular queries:

Google Suggest middle of the query

Another way to discover more question-type Google Suggest
results is to play with the following tools:

is a solid keyword research tool allowing you to
generate hundreds of niche questions based on your core query.
What’s helpful is that Serpstat allows you to sort results by the
question word:

Serpstat Questions

…and filter questions by a popular term in the tag cloud,
making it easier to make sense of those multiple results (and
optimize for several questions within one content asset):

Serpstat questions filter

Ahrefs is another multi-feature SEO platform that allows users
to research related questions with one of its recent updates:

Ahrefs questions

If you end up with too many Google-suggested questions, run your
list through Serpstat’s clustering
to break those questions into meaningful groups based on

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