Despite fulfilling a crucial role in customer understanding of the products and/or services offered by an online business, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) can end up being an overlooked area on many sites.
At their core, FAQs are a structured collection of crucial information that helps customers make an informed decision.
But how can brands write industry-leading FAQs that make a difference to the customer journey and furthermore, why should they bother?
Why write FAQs?
Some of the main benefits offered by effective use of FAQs include:
- Providing clear, concise answers to the questions that matter to users
- Directing internal page views towards other important pages on the site (i.e. products/services)
- Showcasing authority, trust, and expertise within the site’s specific sector
- Driving engagement with the blog and wider content creation based around common queries
- Gaining featured snippets and ‘People also ask’ space in the search results.
- Reducing the need for customers to directly contact the business about simple queries thus saving time and resource.
To help you make sure you’re creating top-quality answer content, here are some steps to help you on your way in creating top-notch FAQs.
Customer focus is crucial
While it may seem like an obvious point to make, FAQs’ primary focus is to help visitors to the site find the answers/service/product they’re looking for.
There was a time when FAQs were focused on helping users to actually use your website, or information about deliveries, returns, and payment options, but businesses need to go much deeper.
While this can be accomplished through keyword research and reviewing effective competitor pages, if you have access to a sales or customer service team, don’t forget to use them as a resource.
They’ll know which queries matter most to existing and potential customers and, as a result, guide you towards content that will be most effective on-site. Collating information gathered from customer touchpoints – even ones that aren’t digitally-obtained – is crucial to building a comprehensive list of FAQs.
Write FAQs in the target audience’s language
When you’re putting together a list of suggested FAQs or sprucing up an existing page, it can be quite easy to get caught up in the industry jargon that’s likely to be used across the rest of the site.
However, the information provided by FAQs should always be geared directly at the customer, assuming only a basic level of knowledge (with a few exceptions i.e. complex financial services).
Aim for plain-speaking, no-nonsense, and highly informative vocabulary.
Create a clear hierarchy and, where possible, implement a search function
Ease of navigation is crucial to an effective set of FAQs. Question sections should be clearly labelled via headings and subheadings – prioritised via customer journey data where possible.
Taking this a step further, it’s best practice to avoid making users scroll through a huge list of questions and query topics to find the answer they need.
If it’s possible to implement a search function effectively and intuitively, it’s best to add it into your FAQs to make navigation a breeze for visitors.
Don’t make FAQs difficult for customers to find
A focus on organisation should extend beyond the queries themselves and on to where the FAQs actually sit on the site. They should be easy for a potential customer to find as opposed to hidden away in a subcategory or ‘About Us’ page which happens all too often.
While it’s good to have more generalised FAQs located in a catch-all ‘help’ section of the site, you should also consider where they’re best placed throughout the user journey.
For users already browsing the site, it’s good practice to answer questions in relevant areas i.e. incorporating FAQs into service and landing pages.
Make sure the questions really are “frequently asked“
When you’re researching keywords and phrases to inform FAQs, it’s tempting to try and cover all the bases at once. But don’t.
This is a process that can be done gradually as the section is fleshed out – for the best results, prioritise only including questions that are measurably being asked in volume and will help the customer make an informed decision.
Tools to help identify keyword opportunities:
- AnswerThePublic – When you’re beginning your research at a higher level, this tool is a good starting point to look up the types of questions being asked around your chosen topic.
- AlsoAsked.com – Google has started giving ~2-3x more answers within “People Also Asked” results and this tool can provide a full list around your given search term.
- SEMRush ‘Keyword Magic’ – SEMRush’s dedicated ‘Keyword Magic’ functionality is great for finding relevant keywords, keyphrases and questions to populate an FAQs section.
- Google Trends – If you’re looking to update an FAQs page to keep things current (or build a quality one from scratch), this is a great tool to see what’s got people talking in your target sector.
- SearchMetrics Keyword Research – A powerful tool that gives a lot of supporting contextual information about relevant keywords and associated queries.
While it’s great to answer as many questions potential customers may have as possible, don’t go overboard when there isn’t any value in it, because you’ll end up diluting the really good stuff – the real FAQs.
Follow E-A-T guidelines, keep things relevant and, where possible, focus on queries that could lead users further down the funnel towards conversion.
Plan for skim-reading
It’s easy to get carried away with the level of detail you’re putting into FAQ answers, but best practice is to focus on conveying the most crucial information in concise snippets that can be easily scanned by potential customers.
Visitors to the site are looking for their question to be answered quickly and clearly, so make every word you use count, like this example:
Consider the use of icons/visual cues
To take your FAQs to the next level you could suggest a series of icons for question sections or visuals to represent processes. While this is more of a nice to have, it can help user experience by keeping things simple, at-a-glance understandable and easy to digest quickly.
Add relevant internal links
When an opportunity presents itself (provided it’s relevant and organic) to link through and push the customer further towards conversion or other useful content from your FAQs, this should be actioned.
More in-depth information about site’s services found on specific category and product pages, provides a great opportunity for you to turn an answered question into a sale.
Consider SERP features
With any information on your website, there is potential for Google to directly use this in their search engine results pages (SERPs) and there are several ways to increase your chances of success, and in turn, users finding you.
People also ask is a list of questions related to a given query, typically displayed in accordions. Each question provides a featured snippet along with additional questions, which are ideal to consider when putting together your FAQ pages.
Make sure the FAQs section is kept up to date
Don’t just finish writing FAQs and leave them to gather dust – make sure you recommend that amendments are made to reflect the services offered, any changes in the industry or the way your company is operating as soon as it is possible to do so.
A potential customer often won’t hang about on a site where the FAQs don’t offer useful, relevant answers to their queries and that’s not a chance you want to take.
The example below shows updated relevant questions relating to COVID-19, which, for a site like Etsy where the sellers are often small indie businesses, would have been a very frequently-asked question!
Offer additional support wherever possible
There will always be outliers who have questions that you won’t have even considered when putting together FAQs.
Rather than accepting that they’ll have to look elsewhere, make sure that you’re offering alternative contact information wherever FAQs are housed, whether that’s via internal linking to a contact page, phone number or a CTA through to a webchat.
The Quality FAQs Checklist
When reviewing an FAQs page, ask yourself how many of the following criteria it meets:
- FAQs are easy to find on your site ✅
- They are structured with a clear hierarchy for ease of navigation ✅
- Questions and answers are written in the customer’s language – no jargon ✅
- The answers are concise and provide all essential information at a glance ✅
- All the information included is up to date and genuinely useful to users ✅
- There is a savvy use of internal linking to push users towards conversion pages ✅
- They are structured and written in a way that could gain featured snippets ✅
- FAQs have been placed at relevant points along the user journey i.e. product/service pages ✅
- Potential customers have been provided alternative contact information where possible ✅