I received an email from a podcast listener the other day that made me smile…and think. It went like this:
I absolutely love your ebook and a few of us at LocalTrifecta Internet Marketing absolutely love your talks on Content Marketing. One thing: If I'm not mistaken, you said that FAQ pages were the dumbest things ever. Why is that?
Thanks, -- Ramesh Ranjan
Ahhh yes, I did say that, didn’t I? ;-) But truth be told, what I should have said is that FAQ pages (on a website), done the traditional way, are the dumbest things ever.
And what is the traditional way? Simple—A company lists 5-15 (average) of their most frequently asked questions and immediately, under each, they list a 2-3 sentence answer…and usually not a good answer at that.
Why is this a bad idea? Here are a few reasons:
1. We’re in the information age. Consumers, when visiting a website, expect to be fed—a lot. Generally speaking, a traditional FAQ page is meager servings, and isn’t going to generate a whole bunch of trust and warm-fuzzies with the reader.
2. From an SEO standpoint, pages of a website are most effective when they’re thematic (focusing on a central theme/keyword phrase). FAQ pages therefore have multiple “themes,” which gives the search engines little to chew on and dilutes the quality of the information. In a post Penguin/Panda era, this simply isn’t going to get it done in most cases.
3. If a company gets truly aggressive with their FAQ page and answers many questions, the page can go wayyyyyy long, which obviously will have a higher chance of losing viewers.
4. Along with #1, every business has a “tipping point” when it comes to total page views. Essentially, as a business you should look at a page view as a “date” with the prospect. With each date you go on (every piece of content they consume, be it text, video, etc.) you are one step closer to the ultimate goal—marriage (earning a new customer). FAQ pages are traditionally one “date,” which, as you might imagine, isn’t exactly going to help too many folks get married. :-)
How to Write Great FAQ Pages that Get Results
Now that we’ve discussed what’s wrong with traditional FAQ pages, let’s talk for a second about a simple method of doing them right. Essentially, there are only 3 main steps to follow:
1. On your FAQ page, list out all the major questions you receive every day. If you have more than 15 or so questions, you may want to break these lists out into categories, allowing the viewer to find the question they’re looking for quicker and easier. (Note***Please understand you do not have to call this an "FAQ Page" at all, as it can be said in many ways, as show in the two photos presented here from the River Pools and TSL websites.)
2. Now that the questions are listed, do NOT answer them on the actual page. Instead, hard-link the entire question to the blog post that answers said question.
3. Finally, at the bottom of the page below all the questions, show a call to action for some type of guide/eBook that contains the answers of all the questions listed above.
On the River Pools FAQ page--which is actually called "Pools 101," a video, a list of questions, and a call-to-action all make the page incredibly successful for consumers just getting started in their quest for pool ownership.
Pretty simple, right? This method of designing an FAQ page is powerful because of a few reasons:
1. It allows the reader to “choose their own adventure” and take deep dives into the questions most important to them.
2. It allows for more questions to be shown on the page, as there are no answers to take up a lot of space.
3. It’s great for internal linking/SEO strategies. By making the anchor text of the link the question itself, this is sending a clear message to search engines as to exactly what the page/article is talking about—i.e. the keyword phrase it’s targeting.
4. It will lead to a huge spike in “dates” (page views), which will in-turn end up producing more leads and customers to follow.
Here at TSL, our FAQ page is actually entitled "Problems We Solve," and is one of the highest viewed pages of the entire site.
As I mentioned before, this is a very simple and effective way of addressing your company’s most frequently asked questions, but the unfortunate thing is that most aren’t doing it this way.
So that’s the simple challenge of this post. Revamp your company FAQ page—assuming you have one—and when you’re done, email me(if you'd like) the changes you've made. I’d love to personally see it and then, further down the road, hear the results as well.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? As always, don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts below my friends...
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About Marcus Sheridan
In late 2009, Sheridan started his sales, Marketing, and personal development blog—The Sales Lion. He has since grown its brand to be synonymous with Inbound and Content Marketing excellence while being featured in multiple industry publications, including the New York Times where he was referred to as a “web Marketing guru.” Today, when Sheridan isn’t giving riveting and passion-filled keynotes around the globe or consulting with businesses and brands, he generally finds himself on an adventure with his wife and 4 children.