No matter if you are a business owner, marketing manager, or team member who regularly interacts with customers, you have probably been asked the same few questions over and over again.
While it might be easy to keep answering each question in person or over the phone, it is a better customer experience if you can answer these questions online.
Benefits of Answering FAQs Online
- Better Customer Experience - Give your customers what they want: answers!
- Set Your Business Apart - People may be asking your competitors the same questions. How you answer should help your company stand out from the rest.
- Create a Well Informed Customer - For people who like to devour content online, FAQs are a treat. Reading the answers will help them turn into better-qualified leads.
- Ease Burden on Sales/Customer Support Staff - Online FAQs can reduce the number of calls your staff receives, so they can focus on other tasks.
- Increase Clicks from Search Results - Distilled published this case study and posits that winning FAQ snippets may result in increased click-through rates
When it comes to answering frequently asked questions online, there are two places where a local business should focus: their Google My Business profile and website.
Answering FAQs On Google My Business
With the rise of zero-click searches and the rate at which Google is becoming your new homepage, you need to provide answers to common questions on your Google Business profile. Here are some ways you can add FAQ content in GMB.
The most obvious is Google’s Questions & Answers. First released in the second half of 2017, Q&A allows people to leave a question for you or others to answer - and all of it living on your GMB profile.
Users now use Google Q&A to ask about hours, services, and other information about a business. Of course, there are still some frustrations with this platform: users still often think they are messaging the business directly, yet 91% of questions go unanswered by the business.
In recent months, Google has increased the importance of the Q&A section. Now, when you start asking a question, Google auto-suggests relevant answers from existing Q&A.
Anyone can leave or answer a question, including the business owner. We’ve seen success in having the business owner ask and answer the most popular questions they get asked offline, as a way of adding content to this section. Just be sure to get enough upvotes to the questions and answers that matter most, so that they show up first on your profile.
Google Q&A Checklist:
- Answer every question on your GMB profile
- Flag inappropriate/off-topic answers
- Prime Q&A section with your own questions
- Upvote important questions & answers
Simply put, Google Posts are like a social media post for your GMB profile. Available on most GMB listings in several formats, most Google Posts include an image, some text, and an optional link.
While Posts have lost some of their visibility in the last year, they still serve a valuable purpose. Plus, Google seems to be adding new wrinkles to Posts in 2019: back in February, Post snippets starting appearing in the Map Pack, while in recent days Google has been auto-suggesting Posts when users ask questions.
To take advantage of these new features, be sure to include plenty of descriptive text in the body of the post. And always make sure to tag every Post link with UTM codes; that’s how we could help an HVAC company attribute $20,000 in sales to a single Google Post.
Google Posts Checklist:
- Create Google Posts that answer your most common questions
- Include answers in the body of the post, not just the image
- Use Posts to highlight special hours, closures, etc.
- Tag links with UTM codes
Bonus: Google Reviews
While not the primary goal of reputation building & management, customer reviews can help answer future customer questions by describing their experience with your company.
Plus, reviews can even have an impact on Google Q&A: the auto-populate field when you start asking a question also pulls from related reviews.
Answering FAQs on Your Website
Another important place where you can answer customer questions is on your website. Here are some ways to incorporate FAQs throughout your website.
When we take on a new local business, we almost always recommend creating an FAQ page and finding a place for it in the main navigation. That’s because most people view an FAQ page as a way to fast-track their research and get the answers they are looking for. Depending on what questions you put on your FAQ page, you can hit people that are at every stage in the buyer’s journey, nudging them along to the next step.
When creating a page answering frequently asked questions, make sure to separate questions by topic or product/service. For pages with a lot of questions, it helps to have a table of contents with a link to the question (also great to score some fraggles!)
If you mention a product, service, project, or location, include a link to the relevant page. If you are into blogging or have additional resources on your site, it can also make sense to link to these articles.
Back in May 2019, Google announced support for FAQ structured data, which means those FAQ pages can get enhanced visibility in the search results. When implemented, it looks like a hybrid of a search result listing and a People Also Asked section. Each question gets its own accordion section that expands to reveal the answer. According to one study, FAQ or How-To Snippets are appearing on 5% of SERPs, yet on average there is only 1 FAQ rich snippet per SERP, so there are still plenty of opportunities.
Google has released a helpful guide to implementing FAQ Page markup on your website. Whether you use JSON-LD or Microdata, be sure to follow their recommendations for implementation. Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool helps with validating the markup and seeing a preview of the rich results, and the Inspect tool in Search Console will show if your markup is detected once the page is live.
FAQ Page Checklist
- Create a FAQ Page
- Segment questions into relevant sections
- For longer FAQ pages, include a table of contents with links to individual questions
- Add internal links to key service or informational pages. Bonus: these links can show up in the FAQ rich snippets!
- Follow Google’s recommendations for FAQ page structured data. Check it is validated and recognized by Google in Search Console.
If your business has multiple locations, you likely receive location-specific questions. Your website’s individual location pages are a great place to answer these questions.
On these pages, you can provide information on hours, driving directions, parking, services, and anything that makes this location unique. As a bonus, you can mark up these questions & answers with FAQ page structured data and have it appear in the search results.
Location Page Checklist
- Create location pages - if you don’t already have them
- Draft and publish location-specific questions and answers
- Mark up FAQs with relevant schema
Video is an underutilized medium for most local businesses. Whether they don’t think they have the time or resources to invest in it, video is a great way to stand out among the competition as well as showcase the human side of your brand.
A simple talking head format, where a business owner or expert simply answers customer questions, is really simple to film and produce. Plus, this format can be easily replicated; we’ve seen business owners spend half a day recording enough videos for 6 months of marketing materials.
These videos can be featured on your YouTube channel, social profiles, and embedded on your website. On your website, you can post the video on your FAQ page or create a separate blog post with supporting written content.
- Identify the ideal spokesperson for the videos. This could be the owner, president, or a salesperson. They must be good on camera.
- Determine the production level. A laptop, smartphone, or GoPro can work for informal or quick-release videos, while a studio and video team may be best for evergreen product/service videos.
- Figure out the placement of the video. Will this live on your product/service page? Social media or YouTube channel? GMB profile? This may determine the production level and even video format.
- Add video to a blog post or FAQ page
Give People What They Are Asking For
Creating a plan for generating FAQ content is fairly simple: ask your team what they keep answering. A receptionist, customer service rep, sales team, or account manager will quickly be able to rattle off a long list of questions, as well as the answers they have developed. Then take this info and start adding it to your website and GMB listing.
As you add FAQ content, make sure you are measuring the impact it is having. You can track online (number of FAQ page visits or video views) and offline (reduction in phone calls) actions to gauge the impact of your work. And while it’s hard to measure, you may be able to see a better-qualified lead or increased customer satisfaction.
About Brandon Schmidt:
Brandon Schmidt is Director of Digital Strategy at YDOP, an internet marketing company in Lancaster, PA. YDOP helps businesses reach their localized markets through local SEO, website design & development, digital advertising, video marketing, and conversion optimization.