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On Thursday, October 6th Google noticeably rolled out a new feature for mobile SERPs where if a user bounces back after visiting a page, they’re presented with a carousel of search suggestions in place of the meta description. This makes refining queries on mobile easier, since users no longer have to scroll to the top of the page to type in a new query to search for.
 
When do Suggested Follow Ups appear?
 
Originally, I thought that finding when the suggested follow ups appear would be easy, but I was wrong. My first hypothesis was that it had to do with the time the user spent on the page. After clicking through to over 100 search results, I found that it was more complicated than a single factor. I could get the suggested follow ups to appear after spending 20 seconds on the page and other times they wouldn’t appear even though I was on the page for less than 5 seconds. My second hypothesis was that it might have to do with the number of clicks a user makes. I found that I could click up to 3 or more times and the suggested follow ups would appear, while other times it wouldn’t appear just after one click.
 
So what do all these inconsistencies mean about whether or not the suggested follow ups will appear? My last working hypothesis is based on the notion that Google has developed an understanding of bounce rate by page type. If a user doesn’t detect a long enough dwell time or a user fails to click a given number of links, then the user will be classified as bouncing for that page and the suggested follow ups will appear.
 
How to Find Suggested Follow Ups?
 
You’ll have to go through some trial and error to trigger suggested follow ups from Google. I’ve only been able to find these on mobile search results, so you’ll need to go to your phone. Type in a keyword that you’d like to rank for and click on one of the top results. Spend a few seconds on their website and then tap the back button to return to the SERPs. Most times, you’ll get a series of suggested follow ups in place of the meta description. You can do this on keywords you’d like to rank for to find related keywords or you can also do this on content that you haven’t created to discover keywords you can target.
 
How to Use Suggested Follow Ups for Keyword Research?
 
As the Google Keyword Planner has become more and more frustrating, finding high-quality keywords for webpages is increasingly difficult. Similar to suggested searches and people also searched, suggested follow ups now gives us greater insight into the keywords Google associates with one another. Each carousel includes 8 keywords that are related to the webpage that a user clicked back from. If you’re having trouble identifying which keywords to include on your webpage or you want to increase the traffic of your page, then you can mine these keywords and create new content for your page.
 
For example, in this Google search on ‘how to make a cake’ the suggested follow ups include:

  • how to make a plain cake
  • how to make a simple cake
  • how to make a birthday cake
  • how to make sponge cupcakes
  • how to make chocolate sponge cake
  • how to make victoria sponge cake
  • how to make a cake for kids
  • how to make a cake youtube

You can select the keywords that would fit with your webpage, in this case most likely ‘how to make a plain cake’ and ‘how to make a simple cake’ and incorporate them into your content. This is especially helpful if you’re not ranking for these keywords, simply because you haven’t optimized for them, or your ranking lower for these keywords than your head terms. By using suggested follow-ups in this way, you can create webpages that are laser focused on a group of related keywords.
 
How to Use Suggested Follow Ups for Content Discovery?
 
Every online publisher is on the search for new content ideas and suggested follow ups offers a new solution. Often times, there are several keywords in suggested follow ups that wouldn’t match with the existing content on the page. From what I can tell, these searches are ones that people made related to your webpage. In the case above, the three different types of sponge cakes listed in the suggested follow ups are new opportunities for content creation. Instead of trying to make these keywords fit onto your existing webpage, you can write new content about each one of these types of sponge cake. Maybe, you find that sponge cake is extremely popular and you decide to create a whole section of your website dedicated to making different types of sponge cakes.
 
Write down the keywords that you can’t work into your existing content somewhere safe. I like to use Trello, so that I can keep track of the content I’d like to create. Use this as a backlog for future content! I’d love to hear from you below about how you’ll be using suggested follow ups in the coming weeks!