Make sure to keep in mind that your FAQs page is for the user - not to improve your SEO, serve as a place to include new keywords, or to improve your page ranking. A well written and useful FAQs page that is actually necessary and includes information that there isn’t another appropriate place for anywhere in the main content may serve to do all this, but that should not be the focus when writing it.
If you’ve determined that a FAQs page is appropriate, necessary and useful for your site's visitors, there are several things you can do to increase its effectiveness.
The first obviously is to include actual FAQs whenever possible. Unfortunately, as mentioned in the article, you can’t necessarily do this when first creating a website since you won’t have the feedback for users to create real FAQs. But this should be your goal over time. Solicit this feedback on your FAQs page and replace similar questions with real ones that you have defined through customer response with some type of quantitative definition for what makes it a FAQ.
If your FAQs page includes troubleshooting or problem-solving issues, make sure you frequently update it and that the questions and answers are timely. If you’re answering the same questions now as you were last year about problems, then customers will assume you do not take care of issues that have been identified and need fixing. This will hurt your brand’s reputation.
If you are including any type of instructions in your FAQs, make sure they are accurate, especially after changing something in the product or service. This includes links. You should make sure all steps work and that links go where you want them to. If your customers attempt to order or submit something through an app which doesn’t work, gives an error code, sends them to your FAQs page which provides a help option that results in an empty page and a phone number that doesn’t work, chances are good you will lose customers.
This type of situation results in the impression that the purpose of the FAQs page is to avoid having to address user problems. With there usually being many options consumers can choose from for any goods or services available online, once you lose a customer, it is often permanent. You rarely get a second chance to impress them.
Don’t use your FAQs as another call to action or selling page. Users are there to solve a problem not to be sold something they haven’t already decided to buy.
Make sure the answers are specific enough to address particular concerns or questions. “How about uploads?” is too vague for a customer whose question is, “How do I upload a JPEG image?”
Organize the questions so they are easy for the user to scan. Some ways you can do this are:
- Alphabetize the questions based on the problem the answer solves
- Organize by audience or type - First, include basic information that might be of use to anyone. If you have complicated or specialized information, list that later maybe under a heading such as Answers for Advanced Users or Technical Information
-Use subheadings to group answers into categories
Consider what is the best way to present your FAQs so they are easy to find and search. Maybe you want to list the top FAQs as a sidebar on your main site. You can use a software utility to extract the top questions and list them as links on the page with the information to which they are most relevant.
Call your FAQs something different. If the page is to supplement your call center, call it Support Center; if its focus is to help with the initial steps of an account, call it Getting Started.
Provide a printable version of the FAQs so the customer can refer to them when they are offline. Also, provide another option such as a phone number so they can contact someone in case they are unable to get online. It is always frustrating when, for some reason, you can’t get online and the first instruction to solve the problem is to go to a certain web address and there is no other alternative given.
Encourage your users to ask questions that aren’t yet listed in your FAQs and include a link to use for submitting it. You can also add a Facebook or other social media page where your customers can add to the topics, answer other user’s questions or rate an answer. You can also have them leave reviews if appropriate for your site.
A final suggestion to help you make a FAQs page useful for the visitor if you are set on using one is to use a professional who is experienced in answering these types of questions. Users need well written, plainly expressed information that is well written and clear. This makes questions easier to scan and it takes less time for a user to determine which question and corresponding answer will help them solve their problem.
Given that industries have their own language and jargon, customers may have difficulty using the browser to find what they need because they don’t know the terms or keywords to use when searching. Similarly, if you use jargon or technospeak in your FAQs, customers won’t be able to determine if the answer they need is there or not. It doesn’t matter if you’ve included useful information that answers questions frequently asked by your target population if none of them can understand what it is you are saying.