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Analysts question drop in Google ‘People also ask’ results

Posted on March 12, 2020

 

Two big names in search engine optimisation, RankRanger and Moz, have detected a sizeable decrease in Google queries displaying ‘People also ask’ results, almost overnight.

Statistics from RankRanger show that the proportion of search resulting in “related questions” dropped from 52% to 40%, largely over the weekend of February 28 to March 1. This equates to nearly a quarter of searches losing the feature. Meanwhile, Moz notes a plummet from 93% to 87%, also beginning on or around February 28.

Search Engine Land explains the entirely different starting figures by pointing out that the two analytical tools may use varying metrics, such as specific query sets or a different definition of “related queries”. Most important is that both indicate a considerable decline over the same period.

What are ‘People also ask’ results?

When searching for the answer to question with Google, it’s common to see not only your own question answered, but also some suggestions for follow-up questions you might have. For example, I searched for “what is a simp?” (this happened to be the first question Google auto-suggested for me), and below is a screenshot of what Google returned.

As you can see, the ‘People also ask’ results provide ways for me to learn more about the ‘simp’, such as the origin of the term and what the opposite of it could be.

Well-built, content-rich websites – particularly those with thorough FAQ sections – might be able to reap the benefits of having Google direct users to their site for the answers to not just one query, but also others that may follow it.

What should businesses and website owners do about this?

Fluctuations like this are something to simply keep an eye on, and may just be the immediate consequence of an algorithm change. Indeed, Moz’s figures show that ‘People also ask’ results have crept back up a little since the drop, so to react by making wholesale changes to your strategy could indeed be the behaviour of a ‘simp’.

If Google is looking to phase out the feature, webmasters might consider answering specific questions in depth rather than providing concise answers to several, and the tactic of using question-based subheadings in blogs may become less effective. That’s something to consider when we have a much more long-term set of data to look into than we do at present, however.

At Engage Web, we believe it’s important to notice search patterns quickly, but hold off on making rash decisions. Why not speak to us for content and web development services that keep pace with the fast-moving SEO world?

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