5 Reasons to Include FAQs in Your Content Marketing Strategy

5 Reasons to Include FAQs in Your Content Marketing Strategy
Michele Linn - Wed Sep 30, 2009 @ 04:04AM
Comments: 85

Question MarkLately, I've become a big fan of FAQ pages on websites. I never thought that I would be recommending this type of "old school" content to so many of my clients, but I find myself doing so all the time. Why? Here are several reasons.

They're fantastic for SEO.
If done well, FAQ pages answer the questions your audience has in the language they use (which means using words they are searching with). These pages are content-rich gems that help drive organic traffic to your website.

They help you think through all of the questions your readers have.
Invariably, as I develop questions and answers for the FAQ page, I find myself refining my thoughts on positioning and content on other portions of a website. "Oh yeah, a reader may be thinking about this. I think we should address this in greater detail, or maybe we should develop some content specific to this." Go through this exercise even if you aren't going to post the FAQs: you're bound to find some holes -- and opportunities -- in your content marketing strategy.

They can be used as a next step.
Every marketing piece needs a call to action, and an FAQ page can be the perfect thing. I'm working on a white paper for a client, and we were talking about the next step that we want the reader to take. There wasn't anything obvious, so one of my suggestions was to think of all of the questions that the reader would have as a result of reading the white paper and create an FAQ page specifically for this.

They're fast to put together and easy to update.
The FAQ page is very easy content to put together, and you can make updates often. Who doesn't like that?

Readers turn to them to find information.
From a reader's perspective, FAQ pages are comforting: they know what to expect and they are easy to skim.

Not all FAQ pages are created equal, though. As an example, take this question I came across recently a banking website:

What features do you offer the small business owner?
[The bank] is committed to small business. We offer a variety of deposit accounts, loans and leases to service our small business customers. We take pride in building relationships and providing you with the service you'll need to succeed. Because small business is big business to us.


Geesh! What a non-answer layered with marketing fluff! If you don't have an answer you can post, don't ask the question. Or, if the answer isn't straightforward, direct the reader how to get more information.

The best FAQs are educational and helpful. My philosophy is to make the FAQ section robust; it's fine to include questions that are addressed on other portions of the website. You never know how readers look for information and, if they are having trouble finding something, they will likely refer to your FAQs.

To brainstorm questions, put on your prospect/customer hat and start really thinking through what they may want to know:

  • If they are new to the concept of what you are selling, what type of general information would they want to know that is not specific to your product/service?
  • Do they have questions about how your product/service works?
  • What do they want to know about working with you?

I also recommend including questions about things you want your reader to know but they may not think to ask. For instance, is there something that makes your product or service stand out? If so, pose a question a question that will let the reader know this. Another common question I use is "How are you different?"

Check with sales and other customer-facing groups to see what type of questions they get as FAQs should answer those common questions. And, once complete, make sure that all of these groups know about the FAQs as well as it will make their jobs easier.

If you think through questions your reader has using words your reader would use, FAQ pages can be content -- and SEO -- goldmines.

Related posts:

Read more Savvy B2B posts from Michele.

Comments: 85

Comments

1. Michele  |  my website   |   Wed Sep 30, 2009 @ 05:03AM

FAQs not only help with SEO, they can be useful for optimizing your support. Tracking FAQs that people most commonly reference allows you to improve how you communicate or educate your users in the start-up process. They can also point to areas to focus on and improve your product and service.

I love the social nature the Wordpress uses for FAQs - let's users and staff contribute to answers and improve usefulness. It also allows you to capture user wishes which can lead to enhancements incorporated into your point and version releases.

2. Zac Shess  |  my website   |   Wed Sep 30, 2009 @ 05:24AM

Thanks for writing this...I was just having a conversation with my client yesterday about this and he thought that FAQs were not nearly as important as press releases. I told him I disagreed but we didn't get into the topic in-depth. This provides some ammunition in my discussion.

I think I would add to this is that FAQs are huge (I think) for new companies starting out because not only can position product/service but add questions/answers about the company itself.

3. Michele Linn  |  my website   |   Wed Sep 30, 2009 @ 03:38PM

Michele: I hadn't heard of the FAQ functionality in WordPress. Sounds quite useful. Thanks for passing along.

Zac: I completely agree that FAQs are ideal for new companies. In fact, I'm working on FAQs for a client in that situation, and the FAQs are proving to be critical. I'm glad the post was well-timed for you.

4. Sarah Mitchell  |  my website   |   Thu Oct 01, 2009 @ 12:46PM

Hi Michele,

I share your opinion about FAQs and was also a little surprised about how effective they are. I promote them to my clients when writing web copy for several reasons:

1) It's the best way I can think of to handle competitive objections in advance and position the client's products/services over their competition.

2) The exercise of constructing 10-12 FAQs often makes my clients think through their marketing strategies and refine their message. You touched on this from a marketing perspective but it also works from an operational standpoint, as well. On several occasions, I've had a customer say to me, "I hadn't really thought about it that way before", in response to a request for specific competitive information. This is particularly true for small business owners.

3) It forces the business owner to think like their prospective customers and good things always come from that. You've mention this, too, but I'm continually surprised at how many business owners focus on what they're selling - not who they're selling to or why.

4) Selfishly, it can solve a copy problem. FAQs are a great place to park a detail that doesn't fit onto the web page but the client is insistent it be included.

Great post. I wish I'd written it myself.

5. Newt Barrett  |  my website   |   Fri Oct 02, 2009 @ 06:10AM

FAQs: Everything old is new again. I'm glad you're bringing them back.
Answering questions is a great idea. In effect, that's what our websites should be doing either implicitly in our copy or explicitly as with FAQs.
With clients, I often position the presentation of questions slightly differently. Such as:
--The Top 10 Questions Our Customers Want to Know about ...
--The 5 Questions You Need to Ask Before You ...
Also, I try to separate questions by category so you don't wind up with a hodge podge of unrelated queries.

6. Michele Linn  |  my website   |   Mon Oct 05, 2009 @ 01:34AM

Sarah: Thanks for the kind words and the additional ammunition for FAQs. I agree with all of your thoughts wholeheartedly - we should have written a joint post :)

Newt: A lot of marketing basics aren't shiny and new, but they sure can be effective, can't they? I agree that you should categorize your FAQs, and it doesn't necessarily need to be by topic. Think about how your users are coming to the site and break up the FAQs that way. For instance, maybe it makes sense to categorize FAQs by type of user (e.g. new to solution, experienced with solution, customer), the industry they are in or the role they play in the organization.

Thanks for stopping by!

7. Doug Kessler  |  my website   |   Fri Oct 23, 2009 @ 03:38AM

Nice one. I hadn't given FAQs much thought but I'll definitely do so now...

8. Melinda  |  my website   |   Thu Dec 03, 2009 @ 10:25AM

I too love the FAQs. Keep sharing the good stuff!

9. Colin  |  my website   |   Wed Jan 27, 2010 @ 08:47AM

"Geesh! What a non-answer layered with marketing fluff! If you don't have an answer you can post, don't ask the question. Or, if the answer isn't straightforward, direct the reader how to get more information."
Definitely agree on this point. Save your pitches for landing pages and ads. FAQ pages are for direct, clear answers.

"They're fast to put together and easy to update.
The FAQ page is very easy content to put together, and you can make updates often. Who doesn't like that?"

If you want to do it even faster try out <a href="http://breezyfaq.com">BreezyFAQ</a>.

10. Nick  |  my website   |   Wed Mar 07, 2012 @ 08:30PM

Thanks Michele, great post - very helpful.

One thing I find useful for constructing FAQs, is to think of all the possible reasons a user would be situated in when visiting your website. Take all those reasons, identify all the actions they could take and then explain them in the FAQ.

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