car appearing through laptop screen on search results page
Digital Advertising

While search engine algorithms never cease to amaze in helping connect people to information, they aren’t perfect. Much of the time, the algorithm is only as good as the person typing the query. That means there’s a lot of opportunities for the process to go sideways, and a lot of rabbit holes for your dealership customers to find their way back from if they wander too far in their vehicle search.


One example: Thanks to confirmation bias (the tendency to search for and interpret information in a way that supports a person’s preconceived notions), many people unwittingly “rig” their own search results because of the way they phrase their queries.


Imagine how different the results might be for the following searches:

  • “Is Ford better than Honda?”
  • “Why is Ford better than Honda?”
  • “Why is Ford not better than Honda?”


Little differences in phrasing are going to return drastically different results pages, which influences the customer journey and the effectiveness of your SEO. That’s just the beginning of the challenges your SEO faces, however.


Thanks to a feature on Google results pages known as “People Also Ask,” or PAA, search results can truly sabotage your brand before you ever get a chance to engage with potential customers – unless you learn to optimize your SEO accordingly.


What is People Also Ask?

The People Also Ask box is an interactive, universal Google search result that displays the most common questions other users have asked that relate to your query. PAAs appear on more than a third of all results pages related to the automotive industry, and more than half the time they’re positioned prominently, just after the first organic search result.*


Google "People Also Ask" Result



That means for searches where the results are stacked against your brand or your dealership from the get-go, PAAs will lead that user even further down the rabbit hole, strengthening their prior opinions about why you weren’t a good option to begin with.


What should your response be? Retake control of your SEO by turning PAAs to your advantage. How do you do that? By making your site an authoritative source of high-demand information.


Optimizing for PAA

If you’re having trouble snagging the top organic position on a results page, you could still gain visibility by getting listed as a PAA result. There are two main ways to achieve this:

  1. Answer common questions in your site’s content in a clear and concise manner. A good method for doing this, beyond just having quality copy on all your site’s pages, is to create a blog that addresses vehicle shopping topics in an educational manner. This also gives you a built-in platform to counter any negative sentiment towards your brand or dealership.
  2. Think keywords, keywords, keywords. Using various tools, plug-ins, and the expertise of a professional marketing partner, you can figure out which of your competitors’ keywords are helping them appear in PAAs and which aren’t, revealing possible gaps for you to take advantage of. You can also leverage the site to get a comprehensive graph of PAA data for specific search terms, which you can use to generate ideas for relevant site content as well as additional keyword insights.


Take time to review your site and start optimizing for PAA today to turn brand sabotage into a brand booster.


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