Posted November 01, 2021 |
The ‘frequently asked questions’ page is often an afterthought when designing a website, but it can provide opportunities to both promote your business and increase sales, writes DONNA ST JEAN CONTI.
Public relations (PR) practitioners have a variety of tools at their disposal, with the press release possibly the most used – but another, the question-and-answer (Q&A) is used less often, yet it can be highly effective and useful.
As the playwright Eugène Ionesco wrote, “It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”
The Q&A is valued by editors, reporters, and customers alike, as it provides straightforward information about a business, its products, and/or its services.
When crafted well, they lead a reader through and to the exact message the communicator wants to deliver.
Addressing common enquiries
When customers or potential customers want to learn more about you and your business, an effective way to help them with this is through a type of Q&A – the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on your website.
But what are these pages for, exactly?
According to Kelli Matthews, a PR executive and academic, these pages are essentially edited transcripts of an interview that “includes both the interviewer’s direct questions and the interviewee’s response in written format.”
In an article published by the firm Allen Hall Public Relations, Matthews further explains that this format is often preferable to that of a narrative story, as it is simplistic and written in a “to-thepoint fashion.”
Matthews identifies several important steps in how to put together an effective FAQ page, following this interviewstyle format.
The most important point is that you should think about the final product and desired message before conducting the ‘interview’.
First, type out the entire transcript before editing. Then, arrange the questions in an order that makes sense, and revisit the page after you have written it.
Thinking of open-ended questions will allow for more in-depth responses, and editing a full transcript is easier than a partial one.
Also, having questions arranged in a meaningful way leads to efficient navigation.
Revisiting the page after its completion allows you to approach it in its entirety, with a refreshed perspective – similar to the way a customer, potential customer, or journalist looking to write about your business would.
Evolving the FAQ
The development of technologies such as voice search, mobile search, and personal/home assistants and speakers has led to the resurgence of the Q&A.
In an article published on Search Engine Journal – a website dedicated to search engine optimisation (SEO) and digital marketing news – Lee Wilson, head of services for UK digital marketing agency Vertical Leap, explored the role of the FAQ page.
“FAQ pages can bring in new visitors to your website via organic search and drive them to related pages – most typically deeper blog pages and service pages closely related to the questions being resolved,” Wilson wrote.
This is because all of these innovations “rely on pre-results and can be targeted specifically with FAQ pages.”
An effective FAQ page “reflects your audience’s needs, covers a broad range of intent, is frequently update with new data, drives viewers to important pages on the site, and showcases expertise and authority within your niche,” he added.
Putting it all together
So, what goes into an effective Q&A?
Based on my own experience, and after reviewing both Matthews’ and Wilson’s articles, there are several answers:
• Approach your FAQ page with a bigpicture perspective and create questions for an interview that are open-ended
• Address the common needs of your target audience
• Use the opportunity to lead the audience to the message you want to convey. As part of this, ensure that your questions and the edited responses are to the point
When done correctly, FAQ pages instil a sense of trust in your audience, removing barriers to purchase by directing customers – and potential customers – to the information they need before making a purchase.
They also showcase expertise and authority in your category and improve your SEO ranking.