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Who how what? FAQ pages - SEO meets usability

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Joachim Gerloff

Joachim Gerloff is an online editor and copywriter at the full-service internet agency NEXUS Netsoft GmbH in Langenfeld near Düsseldorf. As a Master of Arts in media culture analysis and thanks to years of experience in the areas of online marketing, copywriting and SEO, he advises clients on SEO strategies and search engine optimized content creation.

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"Why why why? If you don't ask, you stay stupid! ”There is plenty of wisdom from children's television, but who would have thought that Sesame Street could help with search engine optimization? Because FAQ pages come into play exactly where the song of the classic television song begins - if your visitors have any questions on the website. Service providers and online shops that have so far waived the Frequently Asked Questions should seriously consider whether this would not be exactly the right measure. They give the internet presence a good boost in terms of search engine optimization and usability.

FAQ pages are now one of the long-established residents of the online marketing world, but many companies still don't use them. The excuses are varied: there is not enough time, the shipping process in the shop does not raise any unanswered questions or the website has no space for such an area. In terms of usability and SEO, however, FAQs are extremely effective marketing measures and are extremely easy to implement. Even with simple means, the user can be taken by the hand and thus a successful conclusion can be achieved. Lower bounce rates, simplified e-mail communication and better or even additional rankings are extremely tempting!

What is this FAQ?

FAQ stands for "Frequently Asked Questions" - that is, frequently asked questions - which are collected and answered on a target page. The purpose of such a page is primarily to provide the user with important information at a glance, so that he does not have to search for it with countless clicks. FAQ pages should be an integral part of a website and can be applied to various industries. Starting with a question-and-answer page in an online shop that describes the ordering process or the product catalog in more detail, through rules of conduct in a blog to the FAQ page of a company website: There are questions everywhere and the visitor should get answers quickly and easy to find. An FAQ area is not always required - this should be noted at this point - but if a company sells something, offers a service or provides information on a topic, they are always recommended.

The FAQ page in online shops

Especially in online shops, the FAQs are a good way of making your daily work as a shop operator easier. In online retail in particular, there are innumerable e-mails in the inbox every day that relate to a special product, the shipping costs or the order process. “Is the sneaker also available in size 47?” Or “How much are the shipping costs?” Could be inquiries from potential customers. Communicating via email is an extremely positive sign, because if the user makes the effort to message you, there is an obvious interest in the product. However, effort is the key catchphrase here. In view of the great competition on the Internet, the probability is not exactly low that the interested party will jump out and choose another provider if they cannot find the answer to their question in the shop. In addition, the large number of competitors in online business represents an additional risk. If the user has to wait too long for an answer from the shop operator, another shop may be chosen.

FAQ pages should be prominently teased or placed on the website so that, ideally, the user recognizes immediately on their first visit that the online shop relies on open communication. A very good option here is to integrate it into the header or footer navigation (header and footer) so that the FAQs can be accessed from every page. But the integration of a "Questions & Answers" page in another place is also conceivable, as long as it is present for the customer.

A good FAQ page in the online shop has a notable advantage for the operator. The many e-mails from customers with the same questions over and over again are avoided. That means a time saving. What is more important, however, is the positive effect for the interested party. He gets the answers to his questions at a glance, which makes the purchase decision much easier for him.

Also indispensable on the website

However, the colorful world of the Internet does not only consist of online shops. Countless websites on which companies offer services are also part of the agenda. What they have in common is that their operators want to sell something. Accordingly, FAQ pages should be integrated on "normal" websites if they could raise potential questions.

Regional providers, such as craft businesses, can thus intercept inquiries relating to the implementation of the service outside the catchment area. Companies operating across Germany can also use FAQs to clarify how they can offer certain services throughout the country from one location. The trust that is built up is extremely important and can bind the interested party to the company.

In contrast to an online shop, the FAQ page is not always a must-have on a website, especially if the websites are relatively manageable. The cost-benefit factor must be carefully considered here, as the operator has to invest time to process the questions or the answers to them and to post them online. Nevertheless, an FAQ page can definitely not hurt. For search engine crawlers, such a page only represents additional input of content - which can only benefit the website.

Take the user by the hand

User guidance is an important criterion for the success and failure of a website. If the user has to struggle through a number of pages to get the information they want, or if the navigation of a website is illogical or user-unfriendly, this can lead to premature exit - i.e. no conversion. It is extremely important to take a critical look at your own website or your shop from the point of view of usability. An FAQ page can be an enrichment for the website. If there are more inquiries about the ordering process, products or services, this is an indication that the usability is not the best.

It is important to take the user by the hand and present a logical structure to the website. From a psychological point of view, it is a good move to include the FAQ page as an integral part of the page tree, as the user is already familiar with this tradition from other websites. You should focus on relevant information that is based on the actual inquiries of the users.

From both a usability and search engine point of view, it is advisable not to answer complex questions with comprehensive texts, but rather to refer to target pages. For the interested party, this has the advantage that he does not have a very long FAQ page, but receives the desired information with one click. For the search engine crawlers, the internal links placed in the FAQs testify to a good link structure, which also has a positive effect on the ranking and the visibility of the website.

A good input for SEO

The primary goal of an FAQ page should be to increase the usability of a website. It can also have an additional effect in the area of ​​search engine optimization (SEO). “Content is king” has more than proven itself in the past few years and effective content marketing, that is, the production of unique content with added value, has achieved very good success. Writing and integrating FAQs is nothing more than providing good content - and that is rewarded by search engines like Google, Bing and Co.

The additional content input means new feed for the search engine crawlers, which they can evaluate for the evaluation of the website. Because the website is growing steadily and if it is kept up to date, it is preferred to a one-off Internet presence. If the content on the corresponding target pages is also search engine optimized and contains important search terms, this can lead to completely new rankings in the search results pages (SERPs) or to improve existing placements.

In particular, search queries that are entered into the search window in the form of questions should be mentioned here - especially since these are asked very frequently. Figure 5 practically simulates this scenario and clearly shows the positive effect of an FAQ page:

Since the questions are already listed in exact form in the FAQ area, this means a "perfect match" for the search engine, ie a perfect match for the query. No wonder that the question-and-answer page is listed accordingly high.

There are no general design rules

The format of an FAQ page should be based on the basic design of the website. That is why there are no uniform rules as to what the FAQs should look like. Nevertheless, three recommendations can be made to increase usability.

  1. Keep it simple
    Bright designs and animations should be avoided on the FAQ page. The focus is on the pure information. Therefore an easily readable font should be chosen.
     
  2. Anchor links
    So-called anchor links have proven to be particularly user-friendly. All the questions answered on the FAQ page are displayed in the upper area. If the user clicks on the question that interests him, the image jumps to the corresponding section of the page. The advantage here: The reader finds out right at the beginning which questions he will receive an answer to.
     
  3. Create categories
    Initially, the FAQ page will be relatively small and clear. But over time, more and more information is added. It is important to ensure that the structure is not lost even with an increasing number of questions and answers. Subcategories of the FAQs can help enormously here. For example, a shop operator can list and answer questions about shipping, ordering, and the newsletter.

Creative freedom is evident in the design and integration. Ultimately, of course, an FAQ page has to match the rest of the website. It should be noted, however, that the FAQ page is purely a help page, which means that the actual conversion should take a back seat. Product recommendations or overly clear purchase requests with call-to-action are absolutely out of place here!

Include users

Even with the most sophisticated FAQ pages, it can happen that a user cannot find the answer to his question. In this case, it is likely that he will contact the website operator directly. So that other users can benefit from this request, a contact form integrated in the FAQs can help the question-and-answer page to grow steadily. This is not absolutely necessary for small websites, but it does focus on the service concept, especially for medium-sized and large companies. To hold the user accountable and to communicate this openly is not reprehensible - on the contrary! Many visitors to the website take it as positive if they can help to improve the service of a provider.

Speaking of the contact form

The integration of the FAQs in the area of ​​the contact form is also solution-oriented. In this way, the interested party can be picked up and their question answered directly - without having to send the contact form at all. Sorting by subject is, for example, conceivable. When filling out the form, the user must fill in a reason for his request. For example, if he chooses "Shipping", he will receive questions in the actual form fields that have been asked frequently in this context. This not only makes it easier for him to summarize his problem, which is perceived as annoying, but also saves the website operator from answering the e-mails - a win-win situation.

Conclusion

“There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers” ​​- if the article starts with a question-and-answer quote, it must end with it. FAQ pages prove to be a real asset to a website or an online shop, both in terms of search engine optimization and usability. Large question marks that users have previously encountered can be converted into large exclamation marks using meaningful, informative FAQs and thus lead to the desired conversion.

Primarily, however, the aim is to increase usability. By answering frequently asked questions as well as setting internal links and thus references to important target pages, the user is taken by the hand and guided through the entirety of the website. The trusting feeling of the interested party, who feels that they are in good hands on this website, leads to a positive experience. Furthermore, additional rankings can be achieved through high-quality content, which are carried out in conjunction with other content marketing measures.

SEO meets usability: This applies to the FAQ page!

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