In 2016, Google released a statement that 20% of total searches are voice-based. This number is expected to grow to at least 50% by 2020. Obviously, more and more people are now attempting voice SEO due to this phenomenon, and one of the most common practices is to develop an SEO-friendly FAQ page.
However, are FAQ pages actually good for SEO? Here, we will try to answer that question, as well as the best practices for creating FAQ pages for voice SEO.
Let us begin by discussing the concept of voice SEO, so we can have a good foundation.
Voice Search VS Textual Search
The internet and the search engines are continuously changing since their introduction for two decades or so. In recent years, however, there is yet another significant change driving their further evolution: the voice search phenomenon, and thus, voice SEO.
Voice search differs from the regular—textual search—- mainly due to how users are using it at the moment. There are three main differences, and here we will dissect them one by one.
1. Voice queries tend to be longer and conversational
Speech is, after all, more natural for us humans compared to typing. So, when typing, we tend to use shorter and even shortened phrases when doing textual searches. For example, if we are looking to find a restaurant in New York, our typical text queries are something like “restaurants NY” or “best restaurant NY”.
However, when attempting a voice-based search, we are more likely to ask a full question with a conversational approach. With the same example as above, we can use “Hey Google, what’s the best restaurant in New York?” as our voice query. If you are currently in New York, you can also use “near me” query like “what’s the restaurant near me?” or even “which restaurant serves pizza now?.
What will this mean to SEO? We will need to target completely different keywords.
A common misconception is that voice search optimization is about targeting long-tail keywords. While this is true to some extent, the more proper approach is to target question keywords, which can be short and long depending on the searcher’s intent among other factors.
This will be one of our main principles when optimizing for voice searches, but it is also important to consider the fact that most traditional keyword research tools generally won’t generate these question phrases.
2. We tend to use voice queries when we are busy
Especially, when our hands and eyes are busy (or we are too lazy to use our hands). For example, we tend to use voice queries while driving or while walking (so we can keep our eyes on the street and our hands on the steering wheel).
What will this mean? Generally when using voice queries, we will also avoid the need to visit a website, and we will expect immediate results.
Google accommodated this fact by offering rich results. For example, for the query “who is the best NBA players?”, we’ll get a rich results like this.
There are two main impact on SEO regarding this subject:
- We have to aim to rank for this rich results, which will require further optimizations (we’ll discuss it further below)
- In the surface, it might seem like rich results will hurt your organic traffic (if we can get information without going to your site, why should we?). However, that’s not always the case, and there are also other benefits tied to getting rich results.
- Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, will also play a huge factor here. So, optimizing our site for AMP is also important.
3. A significant portion of voice searches are local
In 2016, it is estimated that 22% of voice searches on mobile devices have local intent, and since Google also reported that the number of “near me” searches have grown 130% each year, we can see its importance.
If you are a business targeting local customers, you will need to implement BOTH voice SEO and local SEO to achieve the best possible results.
You might want to check out our previous guide on local SEO to learn more about this.
So, Can A FAQ Section Help With Voice SEO?
Based on the three things we have discussed above, can FAQ pages help SEO, specifically, voice SEO? The answer is yes due to several reasons:
- A FAQ section provides the opportunity to include question phrases naturally. Google is absolutely against over-optimization and especially keyword-stuffing, so a FAQ section provides a good opportunity to include all our target keywords on one page.
- Not only we can include question-related keywords, but we can also include branded keywords (our brand name) and other keywords naturally.
- When we implement structured-data markup properly to the FAQ section, it will be eligible for rich results.
- We can link the answers in the FAQ section to more in-depth blog posts. This can be a good chance to improve our internal-linking structure.
As we can see, in regards to voice SEO, an SEO-friendly FAQ page can help with two important factors (rich results and question keywords), although it won’t directly help with local SEO.
So, when implemented properly, a FAQ page can boost not only your voice SEO results but also your organic SEO.
SEO FAQ Best Practices
When developing FAQ pages for SEO, there are several principles to follow:
- The FAQ section should be easy enough to find on your site. A pretty obvious, but surprisingly a common mistake.
- Don’t include too many questions on one page. Only include important (and frequently-asked) questions. If necessary, break down your FAQ section into multiple pages. However, multiple pages will mean multiple SEO optimizations, so only use this approach when absolutely necessary.
- Make sure all the answers are relevant, appropriate, and up-to-date. You might want to regularly audit the answers and update the outdated content.
- Make sure the answers are linked properly to related pages. If you haven’t, develop content to support the answers which haven’t included links.
- Maintain a consistent tone which align well with your brand. If you are using a serious tone, maintain it. If your brand will do better with a playful approach, be consistent.
- If you are using images and videos, make sure they are optimized and appropriate.
Step-By-Step FAQ for SEO
Based on these principles discussed above, here is the step-by-step guide on developing a SEO-friendly FAQ:
1. Keyword Research
We can’t perform any SEO without a proper keyword research to find our target keywords. Again, a FAQ section can help both organic SEO and voice SEO, so here we can attempt to find “regular” keywords and question-based keywords.
While there are various tools and various approaches you can use in this aspects, here are the main considerations:
- The keywords must be relevant and align well with your business. Seemingly obvious, but also a common mistake. For example, if you are a bookstore, there’s no use aiming for restaurant-related keywords even if the potential market is bigger.
- The main principle is to find keywords with high enough search volume and yet manageable difficulty. Finding the right balance is important, as it’s going to be really difficult pursuing overly popular yet competitive keywords.
- Assess your current state, it’s possible that your site has ranked fairly high for decent target keywords. Further optimize for these keywords to achieve better results.
Remember that not all available keyword research tools can generate question keywords. Some, however, like SEMRush, do offer this feature. You might also want to check out this guide by Search Engine Watch on keyword research for voice SEO.
2. Planning Your FAQ Page For SEO
Now that we’ve got our list for our target keywords, it’s time to plan your FAQ page. First, make sure to follow the modern, appropriate user experience (UX) principles for FAQ pages.
Make sure it’s easy to navigate. Have a functional search feature, and divide the questions into few categories if necessary (i.e. product questions, billing, return, etc. ). In general, list your questions from the most basic to the most complex ones.
There are various approaches in using your keywords:
- Body of content (the answers)
- Headers and subheaders
- Page title
- Anchor texts for internal links
- Image alt text/file name
Explore your options according to your target keywords, and remember that first and foremost, you should aim to provide value for your audience.
Dwell time and bounce rate, among other user experience metrics, will now indirectly affect your ranking. So, if you can keep a visitor on your FAQ page longer, your ranking will improve.
Make sure all the questions and answers are valuable
Technical optimizations for SEO is a pretty broad subject on its own, and you might want to check out this technical SEO checklist to get started.
However, when implementing FAQ pages for SEO purposes, here are the key areas to focus on:
- Mobile-responsiveness. Pretty self-explanatory. We all know Google now only ranks mobile-friendly pages. This can be difficult if you list a lot of questions in your FAQ page, so pay extra attention.
- Load speed. Optimize your page so that it has decent load speed.
- Internal linking structure. Create in-depth content to link to your FAQ section. Make sure all of these internal links are functional with proper anchor texts.
- Structured-data markup. As mentioned, structured-data markup will allow your page to be eligible for rich results. You might want to check out this guide on how to implement structured data markups on your FAQ.
Obviously, another important optimization here is the inclusion of your target keywords. Make sure to include your keywords naturally and focus on delivering value for your human readers.
Backlinks—or inbound links— are always an integral part of SEO. However, due to the nature of the FAQ page (it’s not essentially a content page), building backlinks to the FAQ page can be difficult.
This is why it’s important to create different content pages to link with your FAQ pages. This way, when you get backlinks to the content pages, it will indirectly affect your FAQ pages (and vice versa, the FAQ pages can help with the content’s ranking).
Remember that the modern SEO nowadays is no longer about keyword optimizations, but about the relevance of your site as a whole.
5. Monitor and Re-Optimize
Both your business and your customers evolve all the time, so, it’s important to continuously assess the performance of your FAQ page(s) and make adjustments when necessary.
The best way to know whether your FAQ page is functional is to ask your customers. You can conduct surveys and interviews, ask your customers directly, and talk with team members that frequently interact with your customers.
It’s also important to update your FAQ when you’ve launched new products/services (or make changes to your product), move your business address, or any other significant changes to your business. Remember, relevance is key.
6. Remember That Search Traffic Is Not Your End Goal
In any SEO efforts, it’s a common occurence to fall into the trap of focusing too much on the vanity metrics, that is, ranking and search traffic.
It’s important to remember that our end goal here is to please as many customers as possible and make more sales. Search traffic is just a way (among many) in achieving that end goal.
So, make sure your FAQ page is above all, focused on giving the best experience for your customers. From informing them about your products/services to making sure their purchasing experience is seamless to after-purchase services.
So, can a FAQ page help with SEO and specifically voice SEO? Yes! Especially because an SEO-friendly FAQ page provides us with a chance to include various keywords (including question keywords) naturally.
However, we will still need to implement SEO best practices to the FAQ page, as well as optimizing the technical aspect of the page to ensure the best possible results.