“Let’s ask Google!” Your audience says that (or at least thinks it) countless times, no matter what the question. It’s not that Google has all the answers, it just knows how to find them.
As an SEO, your job is to know which question keywords your target audience asks to find the answers you provide. In this article, you’ll learn what exactly question keywords are, how Google identifies the best-matching responses, and what you can do to optimize your content for question keywords.
What are question keywords?
A question keyword is a keyword in the form of a complete question. For example, “What is a question keyword?” – That’s a question keyword.
People may search for “use of question keywords” or “find question keywords.” But in many cases, users type into the search bar exactly what they would say, even if that means more text. “How to use question keywords in SEO?” or “How can I find question keywords?”.
Targeting actual questions like these can be beneficial for SEO and your audience. When your site appears in a featured snippet, it’s a token of credibility and can increase brand awareness, even if that means a little less traffic.
Why should you target question keywords?
One reason is that it’s the way people search more and more often. Voice search has changed how people talk to Google and that rubs off on their typing. When searchers iterate the question verbally, they use conversational language and much longer search phrases.
Searchers have become more comfortable typing long-tail keywords. Question keywords are one result of this, and with frequent use, they rank well.
Another reason is that the search results are getting better. Even highly specific, convoluted, and detail-heavy queries generate the desired answers.
Consumers can ask for the price of a specific item in a particular location and get a satisfactory answer (maybe not the price, but the answer). Information seekers can get instructions on what to do when their child gets stung by a scorpion and locate the closest pharmacy in the Chihuahuan desert. People can instantly find out when the first computer was invented and receive additional information.
When people don’t exactly know what they are looking for and post vague or random queries, they usually find what they need. Google doesn’t let people down when they inquire whether it’s possible to keep half a beer or freeze zucchini. The search engine will find content that answers correctly. And you wouldn’t believe some of the most asked questions on Google.
What’s the benefit of question keywords for SEO?
The quick answer is: It helps match results and searches. Google wants to match the results it displays on the SERP with the searcher’s intent when they type in a phrase. Using a complete question in your SEO content, you signal that it provides answers to a specific question.
Let’s break this down a bit further.
The magic word here is semantic search. Instead of focusing on specific keywords, Google analyzes concepts and attempts to understand context and intent. To put this in simpler terms: it considers the context in which the keyword is placed, how it relates to other queries, and what the searcher’s motivation is.
The four factors are
- NLP, or natural language processing – analyzing human language
- Search context – analyzing the searchers’ behavior
- Query stream context – analyzing how queries are related
- Entity identification – analyzing how topics relate to each other
Google uses these to understand precisely what’s behind keywords and phrases to present the best-fitting search results.
So, when a keyword begins with “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” “who,” or “how,” Google understands it as a question keyword.
There’s more to it.
Best fitting search results are often displayed in SERP features for the convenience of the searcher. For question-based keywords, there are several options: A ‘people also ask’ box, a featured snippet, or a knowledge graph are the most common.
This means that when using keywords for questions and answers, your content has more opportunities to be visible to your audience.
What types of questions & answers does Google like?
Understanding how Google reads your content is significant for your keyword research questions when planning SEO content. You want to gauge your chances of getting featured and assess the steps you need to take.
So, make yourself familiar with the three types of questions and answers Google provides:
Long answers generally appear when the question context involves a process or procedure and often start with “how”. Google will show bullet points or listed numbers to provide maximum information to the searcher. Listicles can also be answered with a long-form answer in a featured snippet.
Short answers often appear to question keywords starting with “why” but not exclusively. They can include definitions to a “what is…,” keyword or a “who is…,” or “where is…, “question that can be answered in one paragraph.
Google aims to find the most relevant and reliable answer and display it in a featured snippet.
Direct answers will appear when the question is highly specific and requires a short factual answer, such as a date. Questions like, “Who won the Superbowl in 1987?” get a direct answer. The algorithm will select the most credible source of information for this type of question.
It works, even when you misspell keywords in questions.
How to find questions for keywords?
OK, you get it; question keywords have a high ranking potential, increasing visibility and boosting authority. Your SEO content creation should start with question keyword research to leverage that potential. So, let’s see how you do that.
A few simple ideas to get you started:
- Use Google autocomplete. Start with a question word and add relevant terms to see what else Google suggests.
- Type the core keyword into the search field and check the results in the ‘people also ask’ box.
- Use Similarweb Competitive Research. Under Keywords, you can see which keywords drive traffic to selected competitors. Then filter by ‘question queries’.
How to use a keyword generator for question keyword research
When you are looking for new keywords, you’d typically use a keyword generator to find what’s trending, ranks high, and drives traffic.
With the keyword generator of Similarweb, you can then drill down into the types of keywords. You’ll find the most asked questions around a specific keyword.
To find more questions for keywords, also check related keywords. You’ll find similar keywords with high volume that could be relevant. For example, “ebike” is a related keyword but not an exact match for “electric bike”. Enter the word into the keyword generator to get even more ideas for keywords.
Examine what question-based keywords are popular on the web and if your content matches their keyword intent. The keyword tool lets you easily assess how valuable a keyword in a question is for you.
Further reading: 5 Keyword Research Tips for SEO Pros
5 tips on how to create content for question keywords
1.Put your answer directly after the question keyword.
For example, use the keyword as an H2. The first sentence of the paragraph beneath should be a concise, accurate, and easy-to-understand answer.
2.Keep it short and clear.
Less is more, so cut the fluff. Too many words, jargon, or long sentences are a burden to readers and the search engine.
3.Use bullet points and numbers.
Add listicles or bullet-point lists to your content where possible. These are easy for Google to understand and provide clear, focused bits of information.
Images and illustrations are supportive assets for your content and SEO. They present additional opportunities to add your keyword in the image itself, the alt-text, and the image title.
5.Add a Q&A section.
In addition to answering questions in the content body, consider adding questions and answers to the page. Update the FAQ schema to help Google identify them as eligible for the ‘people also ask’ SERP feature.
Find question keywords to optimize your content
Your turn. If you haven’t done it till now, this is the time to enhance your SEO with question keywords. Instead of using keywords in questions, turn the keyword into a question.
Oh wait, you can save yourself the trouble. The question keyword function does it for you.
What are question keywords?
A question keyword is a keyword in the form of a question. For example: “When was the first moon landing?”, “What are the best [products]?” or “Where to buy [product]?” and so on.
How do I find questions for keywords?
Use a keyword generator with a dedicated question keyword function, such as Similarweb Digital Marketing Intelligence. The tool provides the highest traffic driving search question for your keyword and related to it.
How do question keywords help with SEO?
Question-based keywords increase your chances of ranking. Google uses semantic search to understand questions and answers. Your content is easily identified as a good fit when you target a question keyword and provide an answer. And you increase the chances of getting featured in a snippet on the SERP.
Wondering what Similarweb can do for you?
Here are two ways you can get started with Similarweb today!