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When people use Google Search to find our website (a state government department), they are presented with the "Ask a question" sidebar within their search results page (see diagram below).

"Ask a question" sidebar

This "service" provided by Google is not easy to work with, as the questions and answers are only visible through the search results interface, but the questions people are asking all have answers on our website.

There appears to be no official API we can integrate with to get notifications, capture data and potentially funnel answers back to users more easily.

Has anyone managed to get at this data programmatically?

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Not directly. And it is expensive. There are a bunch of tools, like getStat or serpmetrics, which crawl SERPs and offer their results in an API form.

You can do it by yourself too. I was doing it using some cloud instances with VMs, fast IP rotation (and big amount of good proxies), Firefox and iMacros.

If you need only few (thousands) keywords, you don't need cloud and IPs - Firefox and iMacros are fully enough to crawl some thousands of SERPs in 24 hours.

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