Have you ever come across a FAQ page and just flat out wondered why it existed? “Surely no one is asking questions about concession management at the 1923 French tennis championships frequently,” you think to yourself. To a certain extent, FAQ pages reside in an area of shared fiction. Both reader and writer contentedly pretend that these are questions that have already been asked, rather than questions that they simply want you to know the answer to. But there are reasons why FAQ pages are still ubiquitous even if they don’t seem to fulfill their intended purpose.

Why Do FAQ Pages Really Exist?

Of course, some people put up a FAQ page simply because that’s what has always been done. They see FAQ pages on other sites and decide that it looks professional. Ideally, however, FAQ pages are designed to:

  • Deliver basic information to the reader in a compelling way. The Q&A format simply makes something more readable — for the same reason an interview is often easier to digest than a biography. Of course, the company could just list its history, services, store hours, and address, but the text would be dry, dense, and (more importantly) ignored.
  • Bring the reader’s attention to something that they didn’t even know. The interesting thing about a FAQ page is that it often asks a question that the reader couldn’t possibly ask because they wouldn’t know to ask it. A seller of shoes might add in, nonchalantly, “How Long Do Custom Orders Take?” Herein is the embedded, implied knowledge that the store does take custom orders, neatly slipped into their consciousness.
  • Allow the customer to self-serve when encountering issues. FAQ pages can fulfill their stated intent by actually answering questions that are frequently asked, such as “Why is my hoverboard exploding?” But for the most part, these questions are now covered by a troubleshooting or knowledge base system, rather than  a FAQ.
  • Improve the website’s SEO. Finally, this is actually one of the major reasons FAQ pages still exist — they’re superb for SEO. They can answer questions that customers are actually searching for, such as “What are Milliways’ operating hours?” or, again, “Why is my hoverboard exploding?” This boosts search ranking and appropriately directs queries about the company to its actual website.

But all this potential usefulness can’t change the fact that most FAQ pages aren’t really helping anyone at all — not the owner, not the customer, and certainly not the search engines. FAQs have become so obligatory and so obvious that they are usually just used as filler.

Improving the SEO of Your FAQ

FAQ pages are uniquely useful for SEO because they are specifically designed to answer questions — just like a search engine. Any FAQ can be easily modified for SEO purposes — just remember that the ultimate goal is to provide usefulness to people. 

  • List full and specific questions. “How much does it cost?” may make sense in the context of your page, but it’s not going to make any sense to a search engine. “How much does a hoverboard cost?” is far better — and it makes it easier for readers who are just scanning down the page.
  • Separate larger FAQs into smaller FAQs. You might need a product FAQ, sales FAQ, and company FAQ. The goal of this is to make it easier for your potential customers to find information once they’ve been directed to your page.
  • Incorporate your focus and long-tail keywords. Just like any other page on your website, your FAQ should be designed to target a variety of keywords. In particular, focus on geographic keywords — it will make it easier for the search engine to direct users in your area to your website.

FAQ pages are interesting precisely because they are everywhere. Most people never think about their FAQ at all — let alone in an SEO capacity. But truly conscientious SEO marketers will optimize everything from their FAQ to their Terms of Service; if it’s on the website, it should be doing something for the website. A properly written FAQ has the opportunity to further the customer relationship while also adding a tremendous amount of SEO value. It only requires that you ask the right questions.

Jenna Inouye
Jenna I. is a freelance writer, programmer and web developer, focusing on the areas of digital marketing, technology, gaming and finance. Hire Jenna through WriterAccess or contact her directly.

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