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We Need To Talk About “People Ask Also” From Google: A Finance Case Study

 


For a while now, I've been disappointed with the People also Ask (PAA) feature in Google's search results. My disappointment is not due to the large amount of space they occupy on SERPs (this is another entirely post), but more than quality is never where I expect it to be.

Google has been managing APAs since April 2015 and they are a big problem. MozCast currently tracks AAP (related issues) in 90% of all searches, which is more than any other SERP feature.

The quality problem I run into is that I still find several obscure questions about the PAA and the results or content of other countries.

When I do research that has a universal answer, like can you eat raw chicken ?, the answer is universally correct, so there is no problem with the results. But when I do a search that should return local (UK) content, like auto insurance, I find a strong influence from the United States, especially around YMYL queries.

I wanted to know how bad it really was, so my team and I analyzed over 1000 of the most sought after keywords in the financial industry, where we expected UK PAA results.

Before digging, my basic question in this research was: should a financial request from the UK, the products of which are governed by British regulations, return related questions that contain British content?

I think they should do it and I hope that by the end of this article you will also agree.

Our methodology

To conduct our analysis, we followed these steps:

1. Label the keywords by category and subcategory:

2. Delete the keywords where you expect a universal result, eg definition of insurance.

3. Extract AAPs and respective ranking URLs using STAT.

4. Identify the origin of the country by manual examination: do we see correct results?

Our discoveries

55.1% of the 4,507 financial PAAs available returned non-UK content. American content was broadcast 50.5% of the time, while the remaining 4.6% was made up of websites from India, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Africa from South, Spain and Singapore.

Results by category

Breaking them down by category, we see that the keywords for personal finance yield a British PAA 33.72% of the time, the keywords for insurance 52.10%, the keywords for public services 64, 89% and corporate keywords 38.76%.

Personal finance

By delving into the UK's most competitive personal finance products, we found that a significant percentage of AAPs reported American or Indian content in the results.

Out of the 558 personal finance keywords, 186 keywords did not report a single UK PAA result, including:

  • Financial Advisor
  • first credit card
  • best auto loans
  • balance transfer cards
  • how to buy a house
  • best payday loans
  • cheap car finance
  • loan calculator

Credit card

17.41% of credit card APAs had specific APAs in the UK, with the US taking just over four in five. It’s huge.

Another surprising discovery is that 61 of the 104 credit card keywords did not report a single British AAP. I find this remarkable given that the credit card applications originated in the UK.

Loans

Only 15.8% of searches returned a UK PAA result with over 75% coming from the United States. We have also seen very competitive and careful research of keywords like payday loans generating several non-UK results.

Mortgages

While the UK holds the majority of the AAP results for mortgage related keywords at 53.53%, there are still a few major keywords (like mortgages) that only bring back one only result in the UK. If you are looking for UK mortgages, you want to see information about UK mortgages, but Google rather serves American results.

Insurance

The insurance results weren't as bad as personal finances. However, there was still a big swing to the United States for certain products, like life insurance.

Of the 350 insurance keywords tested, 64 keywords did not report a single UK PAA result, including:

  • pet insurance
  • cheap home insurance
  • life insurance comparison
  • auto insurance for teens
  • cheap dog insurance
  • types of auto insurance

Car insurance

60.54% of auto insurance PAAs had specific PAAs in the UK, with the US holding 36.97%. Of the 132 keywords found in this subcategory, British sites were present for 118, which is better than the subcategories of personal finance.

Home Insurance

As one of the most competitive spaces in the financial industry, it was truly surprising to see that only 56.25% of the results for home insurance applications returned a British PAA. There are nuances between the policies of different markets, so this is a frustrating and potentially harmful experience for researchers.

Utilities

Although the majority of AAPs in this keyword category return results in the UK, there are some more specific searches for which you would absolutely search for a result in the UK (for example, unlimited data telephony contracts), but which bring only one result to the UK.

An interesting discovery is that this UKPower page has captured 35 AAPs for the 49 keywords it ranks for. This is an impressive 71.43%, the highest rating we have seen in our analysis.

Business

At the time of our analysis, we found that 36.7% of the business-related PAAs were from the UK. One of the least represented keywords in this category was "business loans", which generated only 6.25% of results in the UK. Although the volume of keywords is lower in this category, there is a greater risk of hindering the dissemination of international content for queries relating to British companies.

Which pages generate the most AAP results?

To make this post a little more actionable, I've aggregated the URLs that have generated the most PAA on some of the UK's most competitive financial products.

Paradoxically, four of the top 10 were based in the United States (cars.news.com manages to generate 32 PAAs in one of the most competitive areas of financial research in the UK: auto insurance). A board for ukpower.co.uk, which ranked # 1 in our list, generating 35 results in the energy space.

To sum up the above analysis, it is clear that there is too much dominance of non-British websites in financial research. Although there are a handful of websites in the UK that work well, there is research in the UK that brings back clearly irrelevant information.

As an industry, we have been driven to improve quality, whether by increasing our relevance or the expertise of our content, so findings like these show that Google could do more to it -even.

What does this mean for your SEO strategy?

For the purposes of this research, we only looked at the financial terms, therefore, although we cannot categorically state that it is the same for all industries, if Google misses as much in the terms financial YMYL, this does not seem good for the other categories.

My advice would be that if you invest time to optimize the PAA, you should spend your time elsewhere, for now, because the cards in the financial niches are stacked against you.

Featured clips are always the best real estate for SEOs and (anecdotally, anyway) don't seem to suffer from this geo-bias like PAAs, so opt for featured clips instead.

Do you have any thoughts on the quality of PAAs in your SERPs? Let me know in the comments below!

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