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Google Testing People Also Ask (PAA) Boxes in Local Search Results

On October 31, 2019, I saw a very odd search result for a local search. Just below the local pack was a People Also Ask (PAA) box.

I chalked it up as an error or random test. Then, I saw it again November 12, 2019 and decided to obtain some screenshots to share.

What is a PAA box?

People Also Ask (PAA) boxes have been appearing more and more in search results and simply suggest questions which other people are searching for.

For example, if you search for “How To Fly a Kite”, you’ll get a PAA box offering up related questions that people also ask Google, including:

  • Why is my kite spinning?
  • What is the easiest kite to fly?
  • How do you bring a kite down?

Google Testing People Also Ask (PAA) Boxes in Local Search Results:

Historically, these PAA boxes have never shown up in local search results (to my knowledge). A local search result being the page that displays for local search queries, such as Charlotte Pizza or Pool Halls in Rochester NY.

Here are some discoveries that I made after experimenting with the test for a few minutes:

  • I can’t duplicate the test. This is normal. I was in a Chrome browser window in Incognito mode when I saw the test. Once I closed the window, I was unable to duplicate the feature. The test may or may not come back.
  • The PAA box often displays underneath the Local Pack, but, it can display further down the page, at the bottom, or, in rare cases above the Local Pack.
  • The number of organic links remained the same even with the PAA box.

Screenshots and initial findings:

Drug rehab local search with PAA:

Here’s a comparison of a local search result for drug rehabilitation clinics with and without the PAA box taken today, November 12, 2019. As you can see in the above screenshot, all related PAAs are related questions someone seeking a rehab clinic could search for:

Screenshot of a PAA box in local search results.

Screenshot of a PAA box in local search results.

 

Jewelry local search with PAA:

In this screenshot, you may notice the PAAs are pretty general (and that people ask some very odd questions!):

Local search with LSA & PAA:

Local searches which produce Local Service Ads also produce PAA boxes:

screenshot of google PAAs

No city name, AdWords & local search with PAA:

I tested this without using a city name or any other geomodifier while looking up personal injury lawyers at a location near Chapel Hill, NC (and yes, there is a lot of spam in these results). Note that this PAA displayed even though AdWords ads displayed:

PAA local serp test

Here’s a local search with PAA that also displays a knowledge panel:

Some Local Searches already include PAAs:

Apparently, some searches, such as searches for hotels and breweries, already produce PAAs. I’m not certain when that rolled out.

I just left Asheville, North Carolina the other day and I may or may not have done this search several times last weekend (Asheville is basically the capital of the craft beer world). Anyways, I found these pretty interesting:

Was this just a test?

Given that local searches already include PAAs for hotels and breweries, I am wondering if lawyers, grocery stores, jewelers and other types of companies are not far behind. It sure looks that way. If that’s the case, it’s just more content opportunities for those who are paying attention.

Len

President at Telapost
I create content and do SEO for law firms, small businesses and companies worldwide. I have been generating traffic online since 1992. I have owned multiple successful companies. I'm an organic eater, nature lover and German Shepherd owner. Feel free to contact me here.

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