Understanding the questions in SERPs is essential for SEO

Why are the questions that appear on page one SERPs so important to marketers? What can those questions tell us about prospective customers?

User intent

Different keywords have different user intent. So some keywords are more about research and learning, whereas others signal an intent to purchase.

Research intent keywords are used for exploring, learning or gathering information. Often they’ll include “How to” or “What is” or “Benefits of”. These keywords are used at the early stage of the buying process where the prospective buyer is aware they have a need, but aren’t entirely sure what it is that can solve that need.

Buyer intent keywords indicate that the user is ready to purchase and know what it is that they need to buy, but perhaps are undecided on the brand. Search terms that include “buy” or “best” or “deal” or “discount” or that specifically mention a product e.g. iPhone 13, signal buyer intent.

The questions in SERPs reflect what users are searching for. By analyzing the questions that appear for individual keywords, or keyword sets, you gain insights into the intent and needs of your buyers which helps you tailor your content to match user expectations.

Using a tool like SERPsketch, you can not only see the questions that have appeared on page one for individual keywords and your keyword set, but you can also see how those questions have changed over time.

Here’s a great example. We ran some sketches for a company called Essential Living that is a rental property company in London. The first sketch produced questions such as:

• How to find a flat to rent in London
• How much are apartment rentals in London?

But a later sketch (in early December 2023) resulted in a significant increase in questions relating to “cheap” rentals in the SERP:

• Can you find cheap rent in London?
• Are studio flats cheaper to rent?

The reason for this was because a UK MP had been speaking about how one of his team earned £25k per year but still managed to rent in London – which caused a surge in queries about renting cheaply.

For a brand like Essential Living, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should go ahead and start writing content about “cheap flats”, especially if their strategy is very much focused on quality and safety and comfortable living. But what they could do with information like this is to write content on why “cheap” doesn’t always mean cheap, the hidden costs or renting cheap in terms of other costs you may end up forking out for in the future.

Featured Snippets

Google often displays Featured Snippets—brief answers to common questions—right on the search results page, so users have no need to visit a site to get their answer. If your website content provides valuable answers to the questions being asked, it could be featured as a snippet. So being mindful of the snippet feature on page one means that you can try to win that space by writing even better content that your search competitors.

People Also Ask (PAA) Boxes

On a SERP, often there is a section with four questions in an accordion format. These show related questions that other searchers have asked Google, often similar to the keyword used in that SERP.

Each question unfolds to reveal an answer to the question, sourced from a web page that can be subsequently visited if required.

Optimizing your content to address the questions appearing in the SERP can enhance visibility and engagement with your brand.

By keeping track of the questions across your keyword set, monitoring changes over time, you can ensure your content stays up to date with answers to the questions your buyers really want to know.

Which leads us on the next point.

Content Strategy

It’s super-useful to know the questions users ask to drive your content strategy. SERPsketch had one client that added all its product part numbers as keywords, saw which questions those triggered and used those questions to decide on the product page content that would serve the users best.

By addressing specific queries, you position yourself as an authority and improve your chances of appearing in the page one SERP.

It’s important to remember that SERPs are dynamic, not static, so maintaining an understanding of the questions posed by your users helps you to stay relevant.

Try SERPsketch to keep track of the changes in People Also Asked questions for your keyword set.

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