We’ve all seen them, and we’ve all benefited from them: FAQ pages. Otherwise known as Frequently Asked Questions. So why don’t more professionals make use of them for their own marketing? Here are some guidelines on how to make FAQ pages work for you.
Target Audiences for FAQs
It’s often said that you should start with your goal in mind. In the case of FAQs, your target audiences are: 1) prospective clients, audiences, and partners (in other words, other human beings), and 2) Google (in other words, the algorithm that determines Google’s search index and rankings).
When you think of the people who are your target audience, it’s important to think about the issues in the terms they use, not the ones you may use internally or that, say, the media uses. For example, if a landowner faces a “taking” from the federal government, they may be alarmed and do a Google search for a “takings lawyer.” In reality, most of us would probably use the term “eminent domain” in such a case. Whatever you do, try to use the actual terms and words that are the “pain points” of your audience.
When it comes to Google, start, well, Googling. There are nuances around every term out there. A phrase or topic that is of concern to an industrial company may have a different meaning or focus in the popular media. A term or keyword/keyphrase that every media outlet uses may be difficult to rank for, whereas a related term that people “in the industry” use may be less-written about online. It’s easier to rank in search results for less popular keyphrases.
Break Down the Issues
Think about FAQs that you’ve read that have been easy to understand and “consume.” Both the questions and the answers are kept simple, so that the answers to questions are not multiple paragraphs. If you can answer a question in an FAQ with one short paragraph, then you are on the right track.
For example, let’s say you are focusing on Issue A. Can you break Issue A into Components W, X, Y, and Z? Remember that FAQs are often for people who are just starting to learn about the issue at hand. Make it easy to understand.
How, Who, What, When, Why?
Take the words above – how, who, what, when, why – and start your questions with those. Those adverbs and pronouns can be perfect starting points to develop questions.
Keep in mind that the questions you ask and answer are often the very same questions that people type into a Google search. So, put yourself in the shoes of a Google searcher. For example, people may search for “plant a tree,” but they are probably also likely to ask Google, “when should I plant a tree?”
What Are You Selling?
Whether you are selling services, or products, or a point of view, it is assumed that you have pages on your website that explain your services: Service A, Service B, and Service C, for example. In your answers, you can and should include the names of these services in your FAQ and then link to your services pages. This helps market your services while also providing more information for the reader. Links to more content can provide more value.
It is common for FAQs to end up ranking well in Google searches. So, when people find your FAQ page, you will want to reward yourself by having links to your valuable website content embedded in the FAQs.
Some final recommendations:
- Just get started. Don’t worry that your questions or answers aren’t polished. Get something down on paper and then look at it again tomorrow, or send it to a colleague for review.
- Keep it simple. The questions should be as simple as possible. When you do that, you will end up with a set of 6 to 10 questions and answers.
- Don’t aim for perfection. There may not be a perfect answer, and remember: you are writing this for your website. A website can always be edited, so you can change your questions and your answers any time you want.