If your brain goes into overdrive the minute you lie down to sleep, just pose yourself a question. Something silly like: “How many green beans did I see today?”. Your brain will immediately stop its endless chatter in order to try and answer your question. The chatter will resume but repeat the exercise 3 or 4 times and your brain will quieten down enough to allow you some sleep. That’s the power of questions – they hijack your thought process it and refocus your thoughts.
Questions are a very human form of connection; they give voice to our endless curiosity about the world and other people. We greet each other with questions (How are you?); start conversations with questions (What do you think about?); most of our decisions are based on an internal question (I wonder what would happen if?). They’re connectors, binding us to the world and each other. Are questions good for SEO, though? Let’s put it another way…
…Does Google Like Questions?
Google is having something of a love affair with questions at the moment. The ‘People Also Ask’ box that now appears in response to search queries is testament to this. Fleur Heesen of the Yoast SEO Academy suggests that the BERT update in 2019 gave Google the ability to understand and recognise questions, even if they weren’t framed as such. So a list of words such as ‘Jam homemade no sugar” becomes “What can I use instead of sugar in jam?”
Google is hungry for questions to answer right now, and so long as Google loves questions – questions will be good for SEO.
How Can I Use Questions as Part of my SEO Strategy?
There’s loads of different applications, and each product or service has niche questions that are unique. Here are a few examples that are useful as part of an SEO strategy:
- What if I? One of the reasons why cookbooks are so popular is because cooks ask the questions we wouldn’t even think of. French fries and ice cream? Strawberries and balsamic vinegar? What are the questions you can ask that your customers haven’t thought of yet?
- How Do I? The gift that gives forever, this one. It spawns blogs, YouTube videos, step-by-step instructions, Tik-Tok videos. The key to success with ‘How Do I?’ is to provide accurate, simple, clear instructions. Solving a problem for someone could lead to a lifetime of brand loyalty.
- What is? Requiring a simple, accurate and concise answer, with links to further detail if required. These are the kinds of question to include in FAQs, newsletters, or product sheets.
- Which is the Best? A great opportunity to encourage participation on social media platforms. Encourage people to provide their experiences with different solutions/products. It’s a question that’s at the heart of many lively online forums, and the conversation can extend endlessly, picking up new topics as it goes.
Where Can I Source Questions?
Most questions tend to hide in plain site. Once you alert your brain to looking for them they’ll turn up all over the place. Get into the habit of grabbing them and filing them for future use. Whilst you’re creating your natural archive though, there are 5 free sources that are very useful for finding out what the questions are that people want answers to:
- Google Analytics. Use Behaviour>Site Search>Search Terms to find out what search terms people are using when accessing your site’s internal search option.
- Ask Google. Simply enter ‘Questions People Ask’ before your search topic. Or add a question to your search topic, such as ‘how to’ or simply ‘how’.
- Answerthepublic.com A delightfully quirky site which allows you to enter a term and receive Bing and Google generated questions people ask when searching.
- Conversations. What are the queries you regularly get? Which questions turn up again and again when talking to clients?
- Quora. This is the home of the question. It takes a while to find your way around it, but it’s an excellent resource for long-tail keywords and endlessly fascinating, too.
- Questions are a powerful way to ‘hijack’ distracted searchers and focus their mind on your blog, video, post etc.
- Google loves questions, so using questions provides more opportunities to appear in ‘People Also Ask’ and featured snippets.
- Learning to ‘hear’ the questions your clients ask allows you to build a rich ongoing resource. It also helps you to provide relevant content.
- There’s no need to pay for questions. There are numerous ways to source them using free applications.