When to Use FAQs for SEO and When They’re Excessive

When to Use FAQs for SEO and When They're Excessive

Not every page, blog post, or piece of content needs to have FAQs.  In many cases, FAQs are excessive and could hurt your SEO.  All of us get excited when we see new traffic coming in, myself included, but FAQs should be used to add value.

I’m writing this guide to keep myself, my team, and you focused on when to use FAQs for SEO and the user experience on your page.

This post has two sections:

Blog Posts

Blog post schema has a fantastic function called “has part” where you can nest your FAQ schema as part of the page and topic.  But just because you can nest FAQs into your posts, it does not mean you should. Here are a few types of blog posts where I see a lot of FAQs, and my recommendations on using or avoiding them.

Concept explanations

When you’re explaining a concept you may need FAQs when the answer has no natural fit in the copy.

If the questions are part of the original answer, adding a dedicated FAQ just to get a “People also ask” answer is excessive.  From what I’ve seen, you can just as easily get an answer box instead by using proper headers, sub headers and adding the information as passages.  The added bonus here is I’ve seen more click throughs from answer boxes than I have from “People also ask” answers.

Google and other search engines are getting really good at finding answers within text.  If the answer to the question is part of your explanation of the concept, product, theory or theme, let the answer build your topical relevance under the header tags, and let the search engines find the answer within your copy.  By providing the answer within the text you’re also showing your expertise with the visitor and building their trust.

How-to guides

If there is no way to tie in an important piece of information into your instructions, then you may want to add a couple of FAQs.

Sometimes your FAQs can be beneficial above the instructions if they’ll make completing the steps in your how-to guide easier.  But if you have to resort to adding FAQs, there’s a good chance your content is lacking a complete solution.  A how-to guide is supposed to explain how to complete a task, and FAQs are normally not needed within this content type.

The task could be preparing a recipe, making a home improvement, or creating a craft.  The guide itself should make each of the questions clear within the steps. If you do this well there is likely no need for a separate FAQ.

If a client or affiliate I’m working with feels very strong about having the FAQs, normally for SEO purposes, the compromise I give them is to create a separate article that is more of a concept, history or explanation post which is the right place for an FAQ.  This is what Healthline does as an example.  In full disclosure, I do not have any active relationships with Healthline, just sharing what I see publicly from their site.

Healthline will feature a detailed article that explains an issue, defines the concept, answers common questions, and then they link to the listcicle where you’ll find affiliate links and how-to guides with solutions.  On some of their informative posts they also have an affiliate link for a directly related product at the bottom of the guide.

They are currently showing up in position 1 for phrases like “keto diet”, “cbd oil”, and many more phrases where you can see this strategy live.  Search results are from 3/19/2022.

Recipes

In the how-to guide section above I mentioned answering the questions in the steps they are needed.  The same applies here.

If cooking times or substitutions are available, let people know in the step and process.  Or let your visitors know before they start so they can prepare the recipe more easily.

The reason I’m mentioning recipes here is that I find people adding FAQs about specific ingredients and cooking materials or products.  An FAQ about where a banana comes from has nothing to do with making bananas foster.  The FAQ should not be there.  In other instances the recipe site will have history FAQs about the dish.  This is also not topically relevant.

The goal of a recipe page is to provide a recipe.  My recommendation here is to have a separate page dedicated to the history of the cooking product, food, etc… and then link from that detailed page to your recipe.

This detailed content page could contain FAQs, an infographic, timelines, and other features that build you as a subject matter expert and build your subscriber base.  Not to mention these attract really good backlinks and give you the opportunity to build a stronger and topically relevant internal linking structure.  You can even embed printable versions of your relevant recipes on the guide.

Terminology (wikis and thesauruses)

Wikis and thesauruses will sometimes need a comparison, or leave open questions.  If this is the case and a table or comparison chart are not doable, then FAQs might be a great solution.  I also sometimes play with FAQs vs. statement headers and use different formatting for the answers.

For example, if you’re talking about a historic figure, or a popular food among multiple countries and time periods, you could have “Is X the same as Y?”.  This is an FAQ by nature and you can answer it.

A different way to go for this same traffic that could generate an answer box could be “Alternative names for XYZ include:” with a header and a bullet list of the alternate names.  That list may get you an answer box and if the user wants the complete list they will need to click through to your page.

This is one where you can test to see what types of rich results you can get.  But always make sure you’re providing the best experience for the end user. By providing a good UX and easy-to-absorb answer, you’re making it easier for the search engines to understand your content as well.

Product reviews

Product reviews may need FAQs if there are questions that don’t make sense to answer in the sales copy. FAQs can include compatibility with accessories, color options, allergy or danger queries, and other things that people want to know as they’re in the shopping process.

When writing a product review you want to answer as many of these as possible. But a good UX will have an overview of the benefits, a section about your expertise, product images showing you actually own the product, a pros and cons list, a reviewer rating, and FAQs about the product.  Each of these sections provides immense value for the visitor and shares that you did in fact study the product and become an expert for your review.  It may even be good to have a table of contents allowing people to jump to each section.

If you notice a lot more people click on a specific section more often, try changing the order of each section on your page to give your end users what they want without having to scroll.

Ecommerce, Services and Lead Gen Sites

FAQs definitely get abused here.  They are not always needed either.  The big thing to think about is if the FAQ is directly related to the service, product, product category, and most important ask yourself if the FAQ will help the person in the shopping process.

Here’s my rule of thumb:

  • If the FAQ is the history of the product or service, that belongs in a blog post.
  • If the FAQ is something that helps the consumer make a decision to add to cart or fill out a form, then it belongs on your shopping and lead gen pages.

Collection and category pages

FAQs that answer questions about fit, compatibility, colors, sizes, and styles can all be great for collection pages. They let the end user know if the products within the collection will solve their problems, and you can build internal links to help users find a solution more easily.

One thing to avoid with collection page FAQs is having one that is also on product pages, or FAQs that are not specific to the products within the collection.  This means the FAQ could apply to multiple collections or every product on the site.

If this is the case with your site, you’ll want to only deploy the FAQ to the highest level collection page or add it to your main FAQs page.

PDPs and product pages

If you have a question specific to the product, and only the product on the page, then an FAQ is a great option here. If the FAQ can apply to multiple products on your site, it is likely better being added to the collection or sub-collection on your website.

One trap I see some stores getting stuck in are FAQs that are way to similar. “Does the XY come in blue?” on their blue version of the product is a great example. They’ll have this same FAQ for red, yellow, etc…

The answer to this question has already been accomplished by the UX of the page from the image, headers, and product information.  The questions and answers will also not be unique enough to differentiate themselves from the other product pages.  This is an example of FAQs being used solely for SEO purposes and not for the person on the page.  That is the type you’ll want to avoid.

Service pages

Service pages can absolutely have FAQs, just make sure they are relevant to the specific service.  Service page FAQs can include how long the service will take to provide, what or how to prepare for it, and what to expect before and after.

Normally I include this within the copy on the page, but a printable and easy to use FAQ does help to answer a consumers questions more easily.  Having these as a printable is a great user experience. Just make sure you provide an actual answer and don’t say “contact us for pricing”.  The goal of an FAQ is to provide a solution, not require extra steps.

The other issue with FAQs on service pages is when they are generic like what time the service provider will show up. This could apply to virtually all services for the company whether they are a doctor, plumber, roofer, etc…  Add these to your company FAQs as they apply to multiple services and not one specific one. You don’t want to duplicate your FAQs on each service page.

And that’s it.  Now you know how we recommend using FAQs for SEO to our clients and affiliate partners.  The most important thing you can do is to test for yourself and see what works for you situation.  And of course you can always contact us if you’re stuck and want us to take a look.

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