Whether or not we should all be adding FAQs pages to our websites is a matter of often fierce debate with convincing arguments in both the For and Against camps.
My website currently has an FAQs page. Honestly, it wasn’t something I gave much thought to at the time – it just seemed like the right thing to have a central place to answer some of the questions I’m most commonly asked.
Looking at my Google Analytics’ stats, it would appear that my instincts were right as the FAQs page is the seventh most viewed page on my website overall, ranking higher than all of my blog posts and most of my services pages.
But is it really necessary?
Here are the arguments For and Against adding an FAQs page to your site.
Why an FAQs page is a good idea
Search engines love FAQs
The Google Hummingbird algorithm update last year meant that Google focused even more intensely on mobile browsing and semantic language searches. When people use the ‘voice’ search facility on their mobile phones, they tend to ask questions – e.g. Where can I find a copywriter in Nottingham?’– rather than keywords – e.g. ‘Nottingham copywriter’ or ‘copywriter Nottingham’ – as the basis for their search.
Having a page on your website that features the questions people might be asking to find your website means you have an opportunity to get your FAQs page showing up on a number of different search engines results pages (SERPs).
Because FAQ pages typically contain a lot of information they tend to be one of the ‘stickier’ pages on a website. In other words, a page where visitors stick around for several minutes to read the content. As search engines look at factors such as bounce rates and how long the average visitor stays on your site, having a ‘sticky’ page that keeps people reading can be good for your rankings.
Visitors loves FAQs pages too
By using an FAQs page, you can offer your website’s visitors lots of bite-sized information about your products or services. You also have the opportunity to answer questions that might otherwise present a barrier to using your service.
You can emphasise the benefits and key selling points
A well-structured and carefully thought out FAQs page gives you an ideal opportunity to reiterate the benefits of your products or services and to highlight key selling points.
You can drive traffic to different pages on your website
As FAQs pages often reference products and services found on the wider website, they’re a great place to add internal links into your copy to encourage people to read more deeply into your site.
Why an FAQs page is a bad idea
Search engines hate FAQs
On the flipside to the ‘search engines love FAQs’ argument, many would argue that search engines actually struggle to know what to do with FAQs pages. Why? Well, best practice is currently that you write each page of your website with a single search intent or focus keyword/phrase in mind.
With an FAQs page, the content is likely to cover a number of different questions and answers that could each attract people with a different search intent. How can you best optimise the page if there isn’t a logical focus keyword?
Visitors hate FAQs pages
For an FAQs page to be reader-friendly, it needs to be clearly and logically organised and presented. I read with interest that the GOV.UK site doesn’t feature FAQs pages because it was felt that they’re hard for readers to skim, make it difficult to pull out relevant information and potentially lead to unnecessary duplication of content that’s elsewhere on the site.
Also, GOV.UK argues that if people are asking the same questions all the time, you should probably be making the effort to feature the answers more prominently in the information provided elsewhere on your website.
The GOV.UK website also says that it favours ‘frontloading’, i.e. using the focus keyword as close to the beginning of the first sentence or paragraph as possible, so that people can see at a glance that they’re in the right place. FAQs pages don’t lend themselves to frontloading.
An FAQs page suggests you can’t prioritise
I was recently talking to a client about the pros and cons of adding an FAQ page to their site and they commented that they see an FAQs page as a sign that the company has thought about what their users might want to know but has then been unable to prioritise this information and so have just ‘dumped’ it in one place.
Getting your FAQs page right
Typical Libran that I am, I can see both sides of the argument and actually think that FAQs pages work for some websites and not for others.
In recent years I’ve worked on lots of dental websites and FAQs can be a fantastic resource for people who want to know more about a specific treatment, especially one that could cost them a lot of money! Answering questions about tooth straightening or dental implants, for example, can help the dentist remove a lot of the barriers to treatment (e.g. suitability, fitting with lifestyle, appointment times, price, etc.) before the client has even made an appointment. In most of these cases, the FAQs are treatment or service specific, enabling potential patients to access a much deeper level of information in one place, without having to browse the internet to find out more.
I think this is key. For FAQs pages to work well, they need to have a clear purpose to enrich the reader experience and add value. They should be well presented and grouped in a logical way, so that people aren’t having to spend time looking for the right question and answer.
As a rule of thumb though, if information would be better placed elsewhere on your website, then ditch the FAQs page and put the content where it will be more visible.
If you do opt for an FAQs page, here are my top tips for getting it right:
- Use data from Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, as well as referring to enquiry emails and messages on social media to see what questions your customers are asking, then prioritise those on your FAQs page
- Plan for scanning – Design the page so that people can see at a glance which are questions and which are answers
- If you have a WordPress website, you could use a plugin like Easy FAQ with expanding text or Collapse-O-Matic to concertina the content so that people click on the question to reveal the answer
- If you want to add more information or even some educational/instructional content to a specific product, service or treatment, you could have a number of dedicated FAQs pages on your website or even add an FAQs section to each product or service page
- Include long-tail phrases in your questions and answers, i.e. the questions people will be typing into search engines, as this can help you pick up niche traffic
- You could write all your questions at the top of the page, then rewrite the same questions below with the appropriate answers – giving each question an H2 tag – and turn the top set of questions into hyperlinks to the corresponding H2 tags below. That what, when people click on the question that interests them at the top of the page, they will automatically go to the right Q&A without having to scroll down the page. This is great for SEO purposes too
- Alternatively, depending on the size of the site, you could list your questions as live links so that people can click on to the appropriate question and visit a dedicated answer page – this works well for instructional pages and tutorials
- If your website is constantly attracting a specific question in searches, you could create a dedicated landing page which is optimised around that question and answer
- Finish your FAQs page with a call to action to contact you or book an appointment, for example. This will help your potential customer take the next step through the sales process
- As with any page on your website, make sure your contact details are highly visible
- Your FAQs page should be dynamic, evolving over time as your business changes and grows. It’s OK to add new questions, take down old ones or review your answers