Think about your thoughts before your last search. Here’re my recent searches: How far is it to Lake Berryessa? What is the weather at the lake next weekend? Does Sprouts have Sumo oranges? How to save a PPT template? How many gallons in a Home Depot bucket? Google Page Speed Insights. Forrester analysts. And how can I see my search history? (Go to Data and Personalization in your Google Account if you want to see what you have been up to.)
These questions define much of what I have been thinking about, but more importantly, what problems I was trying to solve. That is a moment of high value. That’s why search is so integral to our lives and Google is worth $1.5 trillion.
Why focus on FAQs on your website?
- Because every search is a question, Google uses questions and answers to build its knowledge graph and rank all of our web content on its ability to answer questions.
- Questions and answers deliver content in the most digestible units for both users and for search engines and are the logical base of topics. Or, in information management terms, every query is a question entity, and every search result is an answer entity. They are both things.
- You can see this question-and-answer content at work in the large number of search results that have a featured snippet or quick answer at the top and the prevalence of FAQ rich results, People Also Ask suggestions in the search results. Milestone Research sees these appearing in more than 35% of search results.
- FAQs are good for customer experience and advancing the customer journey.
- Search results with FAQ results have the highest aggregate clickthrough, meaning they deliver the most traffic of any search result layout at 93 per 100 queries.
Entities and SEO Go Together
Entity-based SEO is how Google organizes information in its knowledge graph (its huge database of the Internet information) and how it trains its artificial intelligence to machine learn to improve its ability to match search intent to Internet content. Using AI improves its ability to read content and better understand topical context and not just match simple things, like keyword repetition or density.
The vocabulary of entities is something called structured data markup, or schema markup, and it adds additional and extensive metadata to provide directions and context to search engines for better understanding. Search engines, and Google in particular, favor content that is marked up with schemas and rewards it with high rank, impressions, and traffic.
Here is a before and after look at adding FAQs and schemas to a site. Both are required to get the additional organic search appearance impressions and traffic.
The schema definitions are managed in an industry-organized collective called schema.org, and a clearly defined schema type is FAQ. Within that schema type are dozens of attributes that further delineate the answer to provide context to the search engines without over-cluttering the page for human readers. In the case of FAQs, schemas help identify which paragraphs near a question are the actual answer and differentiates them from commentary related to the topic.
Focus on being the best answer
So what makes an answer best? It is one that answers the question clearly and completely, which often means it includes helpful images or videos. It is from a trusted source, like Wikipedia or 60secondmarketer, which is proven out by the consistent exposure, links, likes, and comments it has. Also, the digital experience should be excellent with fast page load times and stable, easy-to-navigate content.
Are FAQs worth the trouble?
For a marketing practitioner hearing about marketing theory or techniques, the key question is always: “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”
The analysis looked at two cohorts of sites, sites that use FAQs and schemas and those that don’t. The set of sites were selected to be a similar in number of pages and industry.
Milestone found that sites that use FAQs and schemas had about twice as many organic search impressions, better rank, and twice as many clicks or visitors. That is a powerful result. But, the most important and best reason to do FAQs is because it improves the user experience and accelerates the customer journey. Practitioners cannot go wrong using customer-first science.
Milestone Inc. Research Recommendations
FAQ Best Practices
- Create an FAQ section on your site
- Link to your FAQs from the main menus and in the footer
- Answer the top 30 questions about your company and offerings
- Answer 30 questions about your industry
- Answer 30 questions about your offering in the local areas you serve
- Keep answers to 100 words or less in most cases
- Apply FAQ schemas to all FAQs but only in one instance on the site
- Use a visual index to help people find answers
- Offer a search function for your FAQs
- Include links in your answers to your site, content, and related questions
- Include images and diagrams in your answers
- Also embed your FAQs on your content pages
Read the Milestone Guide to FAQs for more detailed insights and analysis.
What should 60secondmarketer readers and marketers do next?
Take a look at your site and see what role answers are playing now based on the list of best practices below. You can also use the free FAQ Evaluator to determine your opportunity.
Marketers can also read the full FAQ research report to learn more about the topic and the research findings.
“This research proves out what Milestone customer case studies have been showing for years: FAQs and schemas improve customer volume and engagement throughout the journey, and they can help decrease customer service live contact as customers self-answer questions,” said Erik Newton, VP of Marketing and Head of Research at Milestone Inc.
About the Author: Erik Newton is the VP of Marketing at Milestone Inc. He is a growth marketing executive who takes a full-lifecycle view of customer acquisition, experience, and retention. Prior to Milestone, he was the VP of Growth Marketing at BrightEdge. Early on in his career he spent 6 years in Japan and earned his MBA there and then started his career at Dentsu agency in Tokyo. Erik has worked in tech marketing for more than 20 years at Adobe, MP3.com, Netflix, and TiVo. He has published more than 175 blogs on SEO, is an accomplished speaker, and wrote a book called Hack the Corporate Fast Track.