The Importance of Question-Based Keyword Research: A Guide to Semantic SEO and Optimizing for Featured Snippets

People on the go ask questions on tiher phone

In the recent past, there has been a change in the way people use search engines. Unlike when they used short keywords, search engine users now phrase their search queries as questions. According to a study on Moz, 8% of all searches are now in the form of questions. No wonder search engines are now focusing more on answering user questions.

Optimizing your site for search queries can make a lot of difference to your SEO strategy. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, find question-based keywords and optimize your site for them. Here is our guide on how to do that.

Closely observing the SERP results will show a section with questions and answers, often labeled “people also ask.” This section is powered by semantic search technology. This technology enables Google to identify the characters of a search query and provide users with relevant answers.

Semantics means the study of language and focuses on the true meaning of words. When considering the results show, Semantic SEO takes into consideration four factors:

  • The natural understanding of language
  • Search content of the user
  • Query stream’s search content and the integration between queries
  • Recognition of entities related to the search query

Therefore, Semantic SEO analyses all the elements of a search query to understand the natural language behind it and deliver more relevant results to the user. 

Importance of Optimizing for Question Keywords

If someone enters a query on Google in the form of a question, Google seeks the most appropriate answer to the question. This could be from a site with the most suitable answer or a knowledge graph.

With voice searches becoming more popular,  there is a need to do keyword research for voice queries.  Search queries take longer, have a more conversational tone, and are in the form of questions. Google understands a query as a question if it begins with words such as Who, Where, When, and How.

The beautiful-looking box in the search results is the snippet that answers the question you were searching for. When someone asks a question, Google provides the answer as a featured Snippet. This also includes a summary of the answer obtained from a web page. If you need to learn more, it also includes the site url. 

The benefit of your site appearing on the featured snippet is that it appears above the other results. This improves the chances of people clicking on your site. If you would like to improve your click-through rate and conversion, you should target to have your site appear on the search snippet. Therefore, you should also understand how to optimize for the featured snippet.

Types of  Answers on the Google Search Engine

There are three types of answers you will find on Google. These are:

Direct Answers

 These questions start with words such as Who, When, Where, Best, and Top. These answers are often from voice queries and have short answers. For instance, if you type a question on when the Thread app was found, Google will give a direct answer of Oct 2019.

Therefore, Google pulls out what it considers to be the most relevant answer and displays it on the Featured snippet.

Short Answers

These answers usually start with words such as Can and Why. But depending on the context, they can also include terms such as What, Who, and Where. The questions are usually answered in a paragraph and are shown on the featured snippet.

For instance, if you ask Google, “Can a Microwave cook chicken?” you will get a one-paragraph answer. This answer will be in the featured snippet.

Long Answers

A long answer often explains a procedure. It is usually an answer to the How and Why question. This is often answered as an outline since it will not fit in the featured snippet.

How to Find Question Keywords

You can find question keywords to include in your content in several ways. These include:

Keyword Research Tools

You can get question keywords from keyword research tools like Semrush and Ahrefs. Answer the Public is also an excellent tool, focusing on people’s questions. These can also provide you with key keyword research metrics. Google Keyword Planner is also a great tool to show you questions people are asking.


The Google Search Results Page is also a great place to find questions that people are asking.

How to Optimize Your Page for Q & A Keywords

Here are tips to optimize your site for Q& A keywords:

Include a FAQ section

You can optimize your question keywords by including a  FAQ section. This can include some of the questions you regularly get from your customers. You can also write the content as questions and answers. Ensure that you use an easy-to-understand language in this section.

Use Video for Long Questions

If the answer to a question is too long, it is best answered using a video. Google now also includes video answers in the search results. If you already have a video in the FAQ section, you can have it appear on the first page. When using videos, include all the relevant data, such as the date of video upload, duration of the video, and its description.

Check questions on the SERPs

Final Thoughts

To provide your SEO campaign with a competitive edge, you need to optimize for questions and answers. You should ensure that you give value to your customers by answering hard questions. You can get essential clicks and conversions if you land in the featured snippet. Therefore, use this guide to optimize your content for Q&A.

Benjamin is a writer with over ten years of experience in the content writing field. He holds a Bachelor's degree in  Journalism from Strathmore University. He writes on various niches such as product reviews, self-improvement, and making mone online. You can find him curled on his couch with a self-improvement book when he is not blogging.