Friday 4 April 2014

6 Tips on how to write the ultimate FAQ page

“FAQ pages (on a website), done the traditional way, are the dumbest things ever.” Marcus Sheridan

In his blog article Marcus talks about ‘the traditional FAQ’ page, you know the type, where there is a really long list of questions and answers, perhaps ordered alphabetically, perhaps not ordered at all. You spend 10 minutes of your precious time scrolling through without ever finding the answer you were looking for… we’ve all been there. At this point I usually vow never to return to that website again!

So why do people have FAQ pages and are they really necessary?

Everyone else’s got one.

This is not a good reason. In a way FAQ pages have become like the unread but necessary web Terms and Conditions gathering dust on a website’s footer.

The difference is that users do actually need their questions answered.

People are increasingly searching Google with questions. Google, with its hummingbird update, is taking steps to further improve its understanding of language so that it can provide users with the most relevant answers to their long-tail queries (search phrases with lots of keywords). Anticipating these questions and providing the user with a dedicated page to answer their question is one way to improve your Google rankings. Put simply, FAQs will help your SEO.

Providing FAQs is important because unanswered questions could be stopping your potential customers / prospects from converting. The e-commerce website that provides an easy to find answer will gain the trust of the buyer; you want that to be your website rather than a competitor’s.

FAQs but done properly

So having an FAQ page is important but only if it’s done properly, but how do you create the ultimate FAQ page?

1. Keep your FAQ page customer focused

If it’s not a question that customers ask then it probably shouldn’t be there. Your FAQ pages doesn’t need to contain everything you want to say, some information might fit better on your ‘About’ page.

An easy way to find out what your customers are asking is to find out from your team what questions they usually encounter, then provide the solutions clearly. It’ll save your team time in the long run too because they’ll be able to point people directly to your FAQ page.

2. Organise

It’s really important not to randomly list questions or sort them A-Z, these are no good as there are just too many different ways to ask a question. Instead organise the questions into themes or categories that would make sense to the customer. If a question fits into more than one category, put it in both, anything that makes it easier for the user is a good thing.

Format the whole FAQ page so that it is easy to scan. One way to do this is to minimise the answers, but this technique often uses AJAX-based code. This coding is problematic for Google to understand, so steer clear of this if you want your FAQs to help you Google rankings.

A much better way to organise your FAQ page is to create a separate page to answer each question. This way, the user won’t have to scroll down through screens and screens of information before they get to the answer they need. Your FAQ page will consist of an ordered list of the questions, which all link to a page with the answer. This is great for your SEO because as we mentioned before, people type their questions directly into Google, and a whole page focusing on that topic will rank higher in Google than a page diluted with other questions.

If your answers are too short to justify a whole page, then you could just have a separate page per theme or category, either way make it nice and easy to navigate back to the main FAQ page.

3. Make your questions and themes task based

For example, talk about ‘making a purchase’ or ‘tracking an order’ instead of ‘billing information’ or ‘order history’. This comes back to being customer focused. You need to think how a customer would ask the question and search Google for the answer.

4. Give non-technical or jargon answers

Jargon alienates people. It’s exactly the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to convert prospects into custmers. Take the time to fully explain the answer, this will not only be more useful but I’ll also provide more content for Google.

It’s hard to know what’s jargon and what’s not when you use jargon every day. So get someone who doesn't speak 'your language' to read your FAQ answers over and feedback on them.

5. Link to products / services when you can

The best FAQ pages are those that answer the customers’ questions and provide them with an obvious way to continue their purchase journey. FAQs should all point to a goal, not just randomly provide information. The purpose of FAQ pages is to remove doubts customers have so they can take action, so make sure you provide a clear call to action. This can be a link to any relevant product, service or information on your website.

6. Make it easy for customers to ask a question

You’re not a mind reader, so you can’t possibly foresee everything a customer might want to ask. This is why it’s important to provide an option for a customer to ask a question. Do this by making sure your contact details are prominent and by providing a link to an enquiry form or email.

These recommendations will help you to create a useful FAQ page that Google and your customers will love. The results: you’ll not only get more visitors to your website but it’ll also help them to make a buying decision.

Let us know what successes you’ve had with an FAQ page, or if you have any FAQ writing tips you’d like to add (click into the article and scroll to the bottom to add a comment).

Each unique visit to your website is an opportunity for you to make a sale. Your aim should be to see the largest proportion of visitors as possible converting, by focusing on this you can increase your online income without increasing visits to your website.

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