The 10 do’s and don’ts of FAQ pages

The modern FAQ has evolved to become one of the most important pages of your site—both for new visitors and for returning customers. But if you’ve never created an FAQ page before, or if you don’t have a solid vision backing your FAQ strategy, the whole process can seem intimidating.

While you may not be able to create a perfect FAQ on your first go, you can get a valuable early start by paying close attention to the do’s and don’ts of FAQ pages.

Understanding the purpose of FAQ pages

In case you aren’t familiar with the “whys” of the strategy, let’s recap the main goals of an FAQ page:

  • New visitors and prospective customers may not understand what your business is or how your products work, and an FAQ page can solve this problem.
  • Current customers may desire an FAQ to solve any issues they’re experiencing with their purchase.
  • Customers nearly ready to buy may turn to an FAQ as a final measure of reassurance that they’re making the right choice.

Depending on your business and customers, you may favor one of these goals, or work to optimize for all three of them simultaneously. Either way, you can get a better feel for what’s required in each of these areas by looking at already-successful FAQ pages, like this one from Semper Solaris, which features concise answers for 10 common questions by new buyers, this one from Etsy, which recaps the selling process start-to-finish, complemented by an intuitive search bar, and this one from Netflix, which neatly organizes content into several distinct categories of use.

Best practices

These are some of the best practices for creating an effective FAQ page:

  1. Make your FAQ page easy to find. First, make your FAQ page as prominent as possible. If it’s buried in the back-end of your site, several clicks away from your homepage, your customers won’t have the opportunity to get anything out of it. At a minimum, your FAQ should be present in your top nav bar. Depending on your quantity of content, you might need to create a subdomain.
  2. Offer your questions in a collapsible menu. Collapsible menus are a staple feature of modern web design for a reason; they’re convenient. Collapsible questions keep your FAQ page neat and tidy, while giving your customers all the content they want when they want it. It’s also naturally optimized for mobile users.
  3. Research your customers’ most common questions. You might be tempted to start brainstorming questions your customers may have, but it’s better to base your FAQ content on actual data. Use surveys and customer interviews to find out exactly what your customers’ most common and most important questions are.
  4. Provide ample written text. For each question, make sure to write at least a few hundred words of content. This will ensure that you’ve answered the question in suitable detail, and also help you optimize your page for SEO. Though your top-level answers should be concise (to reduce the time it takes to find a solution), you’ll also want to err on the side of giving more information.
  5. Include images or video where appropriate. Written text is suitable for most answers, but for those that require a more detailed explanation, consider employing photos, images, and videos. Visual content is more easily processed than written content, and it may serve as a valuable opportunity to show off your products in action.
  6. Link to other resources when necessary. If you want to create more trust in your audience, link to external resources when providing answers. You might, for example, cite a source that validates a key claim in one of your answers, or give readers another resource that could help them with a certain problem. Internally, you can link your questions to other pages on your site, particularly if they offer more details on specific subjects.
  7. Include a search feature and intuitive categorization. Your FAQ won’t mean much if people aren’t able to find the questions or answers that they’re looking for. First, you’ll want to organize your content into specific categories—and the bigger your content base is, the more important these categories and sub-categories will become. You should also incorporate an onsite search, to help customers find the content they need even faster.

Common mistakes to avoid

However, you’ll want to avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Don’t include too many questions. Comprehensive FAQs seem appealing; the more content you offer, the less likely it will be that a reader will come up empty-handed when searching for an answer on your site. However, including too many questions (such as excessive variations of a single question) can also be problematic, cluttering your page with unnecessary and redundant sections.
  2. Don’t treat your FAQ page as a one-time project. Once you’ve collected and written up answers for the majority of your most frequently asked questions, you’ll feel like your job is done—but it’s just beginning. Treat your FAQ page as a mere draft at all times, gathering data on how your customers are using it, and taking every opportunity to improve it with more questions, better answers, or more intuitive layouts. It needs to evolve if you want it to succeed.
  3. Don’t isolate your FAQ page. Finally, don’t keep your FAQ page isolated by itself. Throughout your site, and possibly in your offsite publications, take the opportunity to link to your FAQ page (or individual questions within it). The more you promote your content, the more visibility it will get, and the more valuable your page will become.

FAQ pages look deceptively simple; it doesn’t take much to create one, but if you want to maximize its effectiveness, you’ll need to master the art of their creation. Track metrics like time spent on page, and gather feedback from your users; as long as you’re committed to ongoing improvements, you’ll eventually optimize your page for user experience, customer satisfaction, and conversions.

If you want to get 30 effective techniques to master content marketing along with valuable insights from 10+ influencers like Mark Schaefer, Rebecca Lieb, Lee Odden, Jason Miller or Ian Cleary, download our free eBook now!

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About the Author

Larry Alton
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to a number of reputable online media outlets and news sources. A graduate of Des Moines University, he still lives in Iowa as a full-time freelance writer and avid news hound. Currently, Larry writes for Inquisitr.com, SocialMediaWeek.org, Tech.co, and SiteProNews.com among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing.

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