You know the theory. If you understand what your customers need, you can find a way to deliver it to them, ideally making a profit right? That’s the way marketing has always been. Recognise a need, then deliver a solution. Getting there ahead of everyone else with a better solution helps too, but that’s another story.
Bringing this back to website design and development, and specifically how to create an FAQ page, establishing what the most common questions your existing and potential customers have, should have a huge influence on what content you publish on your website, and that’s what’s up for discussion here.
I’m going to outline a number of reasons why it’s crucial to get inside the head of your target audience and provide a few examples of how to do it.
The rise of voice search
You’ll no doubt be aware of the increasing number of people using voice to perform searches, be it on their mobile phone, via their assistant or home device. What you may not have noticed is that these searches, in the main, are longer and more conversational in nature. Talking is easier than typing for most of us, especially if we’ve got our hands full – and more often than not, these searches are questions.
So what does this mean for website owners who are looking for their content to rank for these searches? We need to understand what the questions are that people are asking so we can provide the answers on our websites.
What’s more, if we can provide the best answer, Google might promote the answer to its featured snippet position on page 1, where it is more likely be clicked on than anything else on the page. One of our SEO clients, The Window Shutter Company, has achieved this for one of the more popular searches in their market, as below (the content within the keyline is the snippet). Notice they have positions 1 & 2 in the organic results too.
We know that since the algorithm update in 2016, Google have invested in machine learning in an attempt to better understand the intent of the searches people are conducting on their search engine. And you’d probably agree they’re pretty good at it!
Google want to provide the best answers, so they’re incentivising content creators to deliver those answers in return for the high profile position. People using search engines generally wants answers. Informational searches account for by far the majority of searches conducted today. For website owners its just a case of understanding which answers it will be most profitable to provide answers for – and then to deliver.
What questions are being asked?
Do you know what your existing and potential customers want to know? If not, how are you going to find out?
The place to start is by looking at your website data. Reviewing your Google Analytics data regularly will give you a good understanding of what content is the most popular on your site. It’s also worthwhile checking your internal search query data, assuming you have a search facility on your site and you’ve configured your Analytics account to capture this data. This will indicate what people are looking for explicitly.
You’ll have some knowledge of the questions you’re typicaly asked when you talk to your customers. No doubt you’ll have kept a record of these, or better still, answered them via your FAQ page. There’s some debate about the best way to create your Q&A content, but the introduction of the featured snippet, and the potential rewards that position can provide, is leading more content creators to create individual pages or posts addressing each question, rather than one page answering the lot. This is something we’re doing for quite a few of our clients now, including the aforementioned Shutter Company.
There are other ways to understand what questions people are asking. You could use your keyword tool or course – and some, like Moz’s Keyword Explorer are set up to filter out the questions which is super handy. What’s more there are tools like Answer The Public that specifically targets questions and delivers the results in a very pleasing, logical manner.
And don’t forget to use the search engine results pages (SERP) themselves. Google Suggest (above) and the Related Searches (below) can help you understand the other topics people are interested in.
More recently Google have introduced a People also ask section to their SERPs (below), more high profile than the Related Searches, designed to retain users even longer within the SERPs and supposedly deliver an even better experience. But be careful it’s very easy to get lost in searches within searches!
Then it’s a case of deciding which questions you should answer first and get started. You should prioritise based on your market and the number of searches and competition for each search term.
How to deliver the answers
You now have an understanding of what questions you might decide to create answers for and you also know what content ranks for these answers – because you can use a search engine as well! Then it’s just a case of assessing how to improve on the answer that occupies the featured snippet position and then create it.
Of course it’s not that straightforward. I’m not going to get into how to do that here, many have written well on the topic, including Ann Smarty quite recently on Moz. But data suggests that a website’s domain authority doesn’t have a huge part to play in influencing whether or not your piece of content is likely to rank. What is most important is that your answer addresses the intent, Google are aware of it and that it is formatted in such a way that Google can use it. Have a read of Ann’s article for more on that.
How to create your FAQ page
We touched on this earlier in that we’d argue it’s probably better, for search engine optimisation at least, to create a piece of content for each answer, and link to each from a page. Rather than create one page with all the questions and answers. How you do this will depend on your content platform, but if you’re using WordPress, which we continue to recommend, it’s pretty straightforward.
Write a post for each answer, assign the Post Category for each as FAQ, and hey presto, you’ll automatically have an archive of all FAQ posts to add to your menu. Not sure how to do this?
- Go to Appearance > Menus (assuming you have access – if not, ask your developer)
- Ensure the Categories box is checked in Screen Options
- Select the menu you’re looking to edit, if you have more than one
- Click on the Categories dropdown arrow on the left hand side on the Menus page
- Check the box for the Category menu you’d like to add
- Add it to the menu
- Drag to appropriate position on the menu
- Check the Title Attribute field is filled
- Hit Save
Depending on what theme you’re using you may decide you need to add an excerpt to each post which will display on the archive and should encourage the visitor to click through to the actual answer.
FAQ content and pages have been around since the advent of the internet, but you could argue have never been more important than now. So I strongly recommend you assess your existing FAQ content and try to understand what gaps you have and how best to fill them.
Main image by xusenru