Do you have an FAQ page or FAQ section on your website? Have you been thinking about adding FAQs but want more advice about how to approach them?
Today’s blog is for you!
Google’s approach to FAQs is changing
On 8th August 2023, Google announced that “to provide a clearer and more consistent search experience”, it would be reducing the visibility of FAQs in “rich” results, i.e., the rich snippets at the top of a search, and limiting How-to rich results to desktop searches only.
The only sites that can still expect to have FAQs featured prominently in searches are high-authority government and health sites where the content is trusted as accurate.
Many of us in the SEO world have been expecting this announcement, having watched the rise and fall of FAQs in searches for a while now. What’s been apparent is that some businesses are using Schema markup on FAQs and How-tos to secure high-ranking results on Google but offering low-quality and sometimes completely inaccurate answers.
With Google prioritising E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust), low-quality FAQs could not be allowed to stay.
But does this mean the end of FAQs? Not at all, and here’s why….
Why FAQs can still be great for your website
While FAQs and How-tos won’t retain the SEO value they once enjoyed (at least as rich snippets), I strongly believe that an exceptional FAQ page can boost the user experience on most websites, playing an important role in turning curious visitors into committed customers.
Indeed, there are plenty of reasons to use FAQs:
· Reducing admin
Are there questions that potential or existing customers ask you time and again about your products and services?
If so, publishing the answers to these questions on your website can be a great time and admin saver. Instead of having to duplicate the same answer in response to multiple enquiries, the one response is there for everyone to see.
· Breaking down barriers to buying
The questions that people ask before they buy often give you vital insights into what’s happening in that person’s world and the concerns that might hold them back from buying.
Answering common questions on your website can help to break down those barriers.
In addition, some people find it difficult for a variety of reasons to go into a store and ask questions or contact a customer service helpline. FAQs can help to make your business accessible to everyone.
· Another way to enter your site
Your FAQ page (you might even have FAQ pages!) is another page for Google to rank in searches, even if individual questions don’t appear in rich snippets. This can bring your target audience to your site.
Indeed, the chances are that, simply by talking about your products or services, your FAQs will contain many of the keywords and phrases that people will use to search for a business like yours.
By including links to further resources (more about this below), you can quickly drive people deeper into your site, which is a positive signal to Google that your content is relevant to the audience.
· Higher conversions
Having an FAQ page can speed up how quickly someone finds the information that drove them to make a Google search. This sense of ease and convenience can lead to higher conversions because potential customers feel like you understand and cater to their needs.
Even if you sell offline, having a clearly marked FAQ page can help to give people the information they need in order to decide to buy 24 hours a day. Potential buyers don’t have to wait for your phone line to be manned or your store to be open in order to do their research about what you sell.
· Showcasing your expertise
Answering FAQs in a clear and insightful way can help you to position yourself/business as an expert. It shows that every aspect of your offering has been carefully considered and is something you know inside out instead of being there by accident.
10 key ingredients of a great FAQ page
With these benefits in mind, I think that there are 10 key ingredients that every great FAQ page includes:
1. A clear audience
Before you add any FAQs to your website, start by identifying your target audience. Who are they? What are their needs and pain points?
A great FAQ page should – before all else – anticipate, meet and even exceed the predicted needs of the audience.
2. Frequently Asked Questions that matter to your audience
When you think about existing customers (if you have them), what are the most common questions they have about your products and services?
Is there something that comes up time and again?
If you don’t handle customer enquiries, now is the time to have a chat with the people who do.
You might also want to have a look at customer reviews as these could give you some fantastic insights into what people care about when they buy from you. Comments such as, “I wish I had known about this before I bought” or “If I’d have known this before I bought it, I would have ordered X, Y or Z” are great pointers.
If your business is new, what sort of questions do you anticipate that your audience may have?
You may have been your own ideal customer in the past (this is often how we end up running a particular business). If this is the case, would questions would you have had?
Think about the following:
- Are your potential customers all looking for a solution to a similar problem?
- Do they want to know about your suppliers or manufacturing processes?
- Are you often asked about guarantees or your returns policy?
Having a clear audience in mind will help you to provide the information they care about.
My advice is to go through your social media interactions, customer emails, and Google Search Console to see what questions people have asked about your business.
Prioritise questions that have a broad appeal and align with your business goals.
Another tip is to do some Google searches yourself. Think about the main questions people might ask about your business, products or services and see what else Google suggests.
My potential customers, for example, might ask, “How can I improve my SEO?” and Google then shows that common searches include SEO for Etsy, Shopify or Squarespace, and that speed is a concern. I might want to answer the question, “How do I improve SEO quickly?”.
Further down the page, Google gives other related topics that people might also search for. Again, these could provide inspiration for my FAQs page.
3. Organisation and logical categories
Your website visitors want information to be as easy to find as possible. You don’t necessarily have to use the term FAQs. Many businesses opt for the term “Help Centre” (here’s a great example from WhatsApp).
You can boost the user experience by grouping similar questions into categories to make navigation easier for users.
Consider a clear and logical structure that follows your website’s overall organisation.
While “X” (the platform formerly known as Twitter!) has seen a great deal of change since Elon Musk’s takeover, one thing it still does exceptionally well is organise its FAQs with its Help Centre.
Similarly, YouTube groups its FAQs as topics that people typically need help with, making solutions easy to find.
I also like how the UCAS website organises its FAQs by topics.
This “You have questions. We have answers” page from Billie is great too (and so visually appealing and on brand!):
4. Clear and concise answers
Provide straightforward, jargon-free answers that directly address each question.
Make sure your answers are comprehensive and valuable to the reader, and include links to further information, where appropriate, to be as helpful as possible.
Your research should help you work out which questions really matter to your customers or which aspects of buying from you that people find confusing or need support with (e.g., how to order or postage costs). These are the FAQs to prioritise.
5. Use a conversational tone
With FAQs, I find it best to write as if I’m talking to a potential customer in person. This means making the tone friendly and approachable. FAQs are an opportunity to engage with your audience and build rapport.
Avoid sounding overly formal or robotic. Instead, prioritise being genuinely helpful and transparent about how you do business.
McDonald’s utilises this approach well, calling its FAQs page “Your Right to Know”. Users can filter FAQs by topic and the answers are clear, informative and with a sense that the brand is an open book.
6. Utilise multimedia
FAQ pages can sometimes look daunting, with a mass of text on the page. Like Airbnb or Nintendo below, don’t be afraid of enhancing your FAQs and making them more visually engaging by including images, videos, and infographics where relevant. Visual aids can help to clarify complex concepts.
Just remember to ensure that any multimedia elements are optimised for fast loading!
7. Incorporate SEO best practices
Although FAQs may have lost their value as rich snippets, it’s important to keep SEO best practice in mind as Google will still rank your FAQs page in searches.
Integrate relevant keywords naturally into both questions and answers. This can help improve your page’s visibility in search results.
Use heading tags (H2, H3, etc.) to structure your content and highlight key points for both users and search engines.
8. Consider long-form content
For comprehensive FAQs, consider creating a long-scrolling page that covers a wide range of topics. This approach can keep users on your site longer, potentially boosting your SEO.
If you have a lot of FAQs and think the page may feel overwhelming, you could always add links to the different sub-sections of the FAQs at the top of the page, so people can jump straight to the topic they have questions about.
Many websites utilise an accordion method of organising FAQs (see below from Free Spirit Travel Insurance for an example).
This means that all the questions are visible, but the user has to click on an individual question for the answer to be displayed. This can help to make a lot of information on the page look much more concise. Google will still be able to read the content, even though it’s hidden from human users until expanded.
Another option is to feature FAQs sections on pages throughout your website. For example, you could have product or service-specific answers on each product or service page.
9. Provide additional resources
I mentioned this briefly in point 4 above, but a really easy way to improve the user experience is to direct people to more in-depth information on your site by linking to related blog posts, articles, or product pages.
This interlinking can enhance your website’s overall SEO structure too.
Website visitors really appreciate being given a call to action or steps to take next, and your FAQs page should reflect this.
10. Monitor and update regularly
In my experience, a great FAQs page is constantly evolving to reflect changes in the business, industry, or audience preferences.
For this reason, remember to keep track of user interactions with your FAQs. Depending on how your FAQs pages are set up, you may be able to use analytics to identify which questions are most visited and adjust accordingly.
Also, if your website has a search function, what do people type? This could give you some helpful information about what to include the next time you update your FAQs.
FAQ page(s) conclusion
While visibility in searches is important, I think it’s far more important to meet customers where they are on their buying journey and give them the information they need.
An FAQ page (or pages) is a great vehicle to help you achieve this.
As we’ve seen above, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to featuring FAQs on your site. You might decide to have a single page, multiple pages, a help centre, questions grouped by category, accordion-style questions, a chatbot that responds to FAQs, or a different approach altogether. Some businesses have a unique URL for each FAQ as another way to rank for long-tail keywords.
Every option has its pros and cons, which will very much depend on the size and preferences of your audience.
Hopefully, the 10 key ingredients I’ve talked about above will give you plenty of inspiration about the right approach for your business.
Yes, Google’s stance on FAQs for rich snippets has shifted – you probably don’t need to worry about Schema Markup for new FAQs now, but don’t worry about deleting what’s already there – they remain a valuable tool for connecting with your potential customers and bringing them off the fence about buying to your checkouts and beyond.
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Hazel Jarrett, director of SEO at SEO+, is well-known in the SEO space, has won many awards during her 20-year career and has been published on various well-known sites. Through her services and training programs, her SEO strategies have generated 10s of millions of sales for her clients, earning her a big reputation for delivering the results that matter.
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