There are multiple facets to any SEO strategy. Your automotive business might develop tactics for branded keywords, “near me” terms, and non-brand words and phrases related to your products and services. Even within your non-brand terms, you might realize the high-potential opportunity to target long-tail keywords, which are longer phrases or full questions that customers ask.
Targeting these keywords has several benefits for your SEO strategy and customer experience. By answering customer questions through quality content, you can grow your traffic without sacrificing your principles of customer care.
Consider developing a question-and-answer strategy that will drive SEO results. Here are a few ways to use questions to reach your target audience and improve your rankings.
4 Reasons to Love Question-Based Keywords
From a content creation side, long-tail question-based keywords can be cumbersome. They are harder to incorporate naturally and limit the subject of the content. However, these keywords can also be valuable if you know what to do with them. Here are a few benefits to consider.
- You Can Understand User Intent
Someone who searches for “oil change” could want anything from a DIY video tutorial to service centers in their area. Long-tail keywords are much more descriptive and allow you to provide clear solutions to problems. This means your pages will rank for more relevant searches, optimizing your SEO budget.
- You Can Create Relevant Calls to Action (CTA)
Short and single-word terms require generic calls to action that might not be relevant to the customer’s needs. However, you can tie questions to direct solutions that your business offers. This can help move customers deeper into your sales funnel.
- There Is Less Competition
Users searching for “restaurants near me” will see results for everything from the nearest McDonald’s to five-star steakhouses. Long-tail keywords eliminate unnecessary competition. Plus, your direct competitors might not be targeting these questions yet, allowing you to dominate the rankings.
- More People Will Ask Questions Over Time
As of 2022, 35% of Americans own smart speakers, up from 31% in 2021. The number of people who start a query with “Hey, Alexa” and then speak a complete sentence will only keep growing, increasing the popularity of these terms.
Long-tail keywords and question-based terms can also help you save money in your corresponding SEM campaigns. These terms will cost less and have the potential for higher conversion rates if the content is highly relevant to the search.
Once you understand the why, you can move into the how, follow these tips to use questions in your SEO strategy to improve your user experience while improving your rankings.
Focus on the How
A little more than 14% of searches on Google come in the form of a question. By far, the most common question format starts with the word “how.” These questions range from How do I change my wiper blades to How do I know if I need new tires.
As you brainstorm questions and long-tail keywords to target in your SEO strategy, focus on the how. You can even turn short-tail keywords (like new tires) into long-tail queries relevant to your business operations and CTA goals. The content related to these questions often creates itself. Based on the examples above, the user would likely want to watch a video or read a blog post that walks them through the different steps to buy and install wiper blades or check their tires.
Other key question formats to consider include “what” and “where.” While 8% of Google searchers start with the word “how,” 3.4% start with the word “what,” and just under 1% start with the word “where.” (Why, who, and when have nominal search results.) This is powerful information for driving your content strategy. It is more valuable to your customers — and to your limited SEO budget — to answer what a timing belt is rather than to understand why it needs to be changed.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get into the other Ws of journalism in your content, but focus on the “how” and “what” in your headlines. Consider building your CTA around the “when” aspect of the story, especially when addressing when customers need specific services or when they should replace their vehicles.
Optimize for the “People Also Ask” Box
The “People Also Ask” (PAA) box populates on Google with similar questions related to the search. For example, if someone searches for “How can you identify poison ivy,” the PAA box might also cover questions like where it grows, how to treat it, and when you should see a doctor for a reaction. Targeting the PAA can skyrocket your content in the SERPs and drive traffic to your pages from audiences seeking detailed queries.
So how do you target the PAA box and tap into this valuable traffic source? Here are a few tips for developing your strategy:
- Make the main question the focus of your content. The PAA answers are often pulled from high-ranking pages. Create value so that Google will share your pages with users.
- Use subheads related to the question. Not only will the subheads guide your content creation, but they will help users — and Google crawlers — read your content faster.
- Succinctly answer the question. Either answer the question clearly in the introduction or include a quick answer directly underneath a subhead. Google can pull these snippets for the SERPs. You can always go into more detail after these brief answers.
- Include a FAQ section on your pages. This section will provide rapid answers to your users and tell search engines what questions are related to the content.
When the PAA box and other rapid answers debuted on Google (like position zero), some SEO professionals worried it would actually harm their traffic levels. However, many users treat these answers as jumping-off points in their research and will click to your page to learn more. This box allows you to get more relevant traffic, as anyone who doesn’t click through likely wouldn’t spend a long time on your page or convert anyway — they just wanted quick answers.
Build Content to Rank for Position Zero
Speaking of position zero, optimizing for this placement on the SERPs is alive and well in 2023. Position zero is the space featured before any results — and even before ads. The box answers the question directly and includes a link to the page where Google pulled the information.
There are multiple ways to rank for position zero in your content creation strategy:
- Use subheads and numbered lists in your content. This is particularly useful if you always answer “how” for a keyword. Each subhead or number can walk the reader through a process.
- Include a table of contents at the top. Tell the readers (and Google) what is included in the article. You can also link to each section which helps people find what they need to know faster.
- Use summary sentences. A summary sentence clearly and thoroughly answers the question. These sentences can b start each subhead before you go into greater detail for the reader.
- Include tables and charts. Develop original content that is optimized for search. Users might prefer a clear chart or graph that answers their questions instead of lengthy blog posts.
Targeting position zero while still creating in-depth, long-term content is possible. These steps can help guide your writing through the creation of streamlined outlines. These tips also focus more on how you present your content rather than the types of content you should create.
Track Real Issues, Not Manufactured Problems
You can have the most impressive technical SEO team at your disposal, but you still need to think of the human in front of the screen to improve your rankings. Behind every optimized keyword are real users who search for those terms and need answers to their questions. These users can become your customers who share their pain points throughout their journeys.
If you want to create a question-based SEO strategy, consider starting with your sales team, customer representatives, and even your service technicians. Brainstorm a list of questions customers frequently ask each department and why they want to know the answers. This allows you to tap directly into customer pain points and how to solve them.
From there, conduct your keyword research. See which target keywords (short or long-tail) align with these questions. With this process, you are creating content for humans with the computer in mind, not vice versa.
Too often, it’s easy for brands to get caught up in keywords and develop content their customers don’t care about. Not only will this limit your results, but it’s a waste of marketing budget to create pages and blog posts that don’t get any traffic.
Update Low-Performing Pieces
Not everyone has an unlimited SEO budget to create new blog posts and pages for long-tail keywords. Your audience also might not need that much content from you. Instead of constantly churning out new pieces, revisit your old posts and articles to see if they need to be improved.
It’s okay to have older pieces of content on your website. Many pages age well over time as users visit the page regularly each month over several years. Just because a page is old doesn’t mean it needs to be rewritten. However, it might be worth your time to revisit older pages (especially low-performing ones) and update them with content that meets your current standards and modern-day SEO best practices.
Consider developing a content audit checklist like your service technicians run multi-point check-ups on cars. You can look at each past article with fresh eyes to make sure they have the following elements:
- Live links that go to relevant pages. You might have broken links that go to deleted or rebranded pages. Check your existing links and update them to modern internal and external content.
- Current information. Automotive trends are constantly changing. Your articles on electric vehicles from five years ago could be outdated. Look for any data that is stale or could benefit from an update.
- Incomplete information. You might miss out on the PAA box or position zero if your information isn’t clear, detailed, and accurate. Fact-check each piece and make sure your explanations are complete.
- Updated formatting. It doesn’t take long to update blog posts and pages that don’t have subheads or any form of keyword optimization. This content can still work for you with a few tweaks.
Turn to Google Analytics to identify which pieces you should prioritize for these upgrades. Look for high-potential keywords and pages targeting them that never received much traffic. You can also look at the age of the pages to determine which information is most likely to be dated or full of broken links.
Let Us Help You Help Your Customers
The world of SEO is constantly changing, with new algorithm updates and opportunities forming each year—however, the principles of good customer service last forever. At J&L Marketing, we help our clients create people-first content that also meets the technical expectations of search algorithms. We can help you answer customer questions through your content while improving your rankings. This is a delicate balance that we have developed over the years through our extensive SEO experience and automotive industry knowledge.
Let us help you turn long-tail keywords into question-based content that provides answers. Contact us today so we can develop a plan for you.