What is the purpose of your website in one word? Answer.
From your visitor’s perspective, this is why your website exists. They have a question. The website’s job is to answer. The navigation, the headers, the content, it’s all there to help them get to the answer.
One common place to answer common questions? The FAQ page.
Marketers don’t talk about these much, so we’re taking it on. We’re answering the most frequently asked questions about FAQ pages*.
We’re also answering some rarely asked questions and finding hidden opportunities.
This post answers all of these questions, has best practices for design, analysis and optimization. Plus we’ll show you 7 examples of FAQ page design, good and bad.
*Actually, we checked and the top questions are “what does FAQ stand for?” followed by “Can you use FAQ in Scrabble?” No.
There is a true story in the life of your visitor. Something happened, they opened a browser and they found their way to your site.
That question is answered at the top of the page. Just use a clear, descriptive h1 and navigation labels and you should be all set.
That question is answered in the content of the page: the text and visuals below the first page block. If they don’t see their answer, their eyes move back up to the navigation.
The FAQ page is a safety net. It’s a catch all where’s-my-answer navigation item. As long as the visitor thinks their question is common, they click and look there.
The question-and-answer structure is so intuitive, you see it everywhere. From the first Dear Abby column (1956) to the latest answer on Quora (there are 100M+), Q and A is a winning format. Google knows this. The PAA box (People Also Ask) appears in 88% of all searches.
People Also Ask
They are often top-visited pages on websites, attracting lots of long pageviews. Here’s what your FAQ page might look like in Analytics (Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report, comparison view for the Avg. Time on Page metric)
I am actually not suggesting that every site should have an FAQ page. See below.
The most common place is in the main navigation. Because the navigation label is just three letters, it doesn’t take much space.
Here are the places your visitors will look for their answer, in order.
Ideally, the question is answered on the page, but by adding FAQ in the main navigation is the “if all else fails, look here” option for the visitor.
Here’s an example of how questions can be answer, in an FAQ format, on an ecommerce product detail page.
The FAQ page design, layouts and features all depend on the number of questions and depth of the content. Design the container with the content in mind. If you’re working with an FAQ page template, make sure it holds everything together nicely.
Here are our five FAQ page design best practices:
Just make a list
You don’t need to group them. Prioritize them by importance.
Group similar questions together
That’s because it’s hard to scan through long lists. Subheaders make content scannable. No group should have more than seven questions, if possible, because long lists are much harder to scan.
Add expandable content areas or jump links
The visitor clicks to “open” each question and see the answer. In UX, these are often called “accordions” because they push down the rest of the page (unlike “overlays” which appear on top of the page)
Add a search tool
Beyond grouping and accordions, you may need to add a search tool for this section. Although visitors would prefer to click (or tap) than type, search is the only way to find needles in haystacks.
The site search offers a hidden advantage for the UX analyst: it’s a listening tool. As long as Google Analytics is set up properly, you can use the Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms report to see what people are typing into that little box …and then make sure those questions are on the page.
Later in this guide, we’ll show you how to use Analytics to improve both the design and the content.
The idea is to answer questions that your audience literally asks you a lot. The best way to find these questions? Listen to your audience directly or interview the people who do.
Here’s a list of seven sources of the questions your audience is frequently asking, starting with the best and most empathetic:
That last approach works great, but only if you are a well-known brand. Do a little branded keyword SEO and you might find common questions about your company right there in Google search results.
These are questions people are asking Google. So these are questions that should go on your FAQ page.
Answer the Public is another source. It pulls questions from around the web.
In the end, you’ll make assumptions about which questions to add and what order to list them. Later, you’ll be ready to do some analysis and make improvements.
If your FAQ page design has click-to-expand accordions, then you can track those clicks and see which questions are getting clicks.
Tracking this isn’t super simple in Google Analytics, because Analytics (by default, at least) only tracks movement from page to page. Clicks that open questions and reveal answers aren’t “pageview interactions” so you’ll have to use another tool.
Add Hotjar, Lucky Orange or Crazy Egg to the page. These tools give you “click heatmaps” of where people click, even if they don’t leave the page.
You’ll instantly see some questions are more frequently asked than others. Some questions never get asked.
Now that you can see, in full color, which questions are popular and which are not, you have the perfect opportunity to improve the page:
In my experience, it’s rare for website owners to ever optimize the design of these pages. They follow a few FAQ page best practices and then never go back to check on performance.
Note: It’s possible to track non-pageview interactions in Google Analytics using event tracking, usually set up through Google Tag Manager.
That’s a question no one asks.
But every FAQ page is a potential gold mine for analysis. Use Analytics to find which pages are missing information. If a visitor leaves a page to go to FAQ, then that page has a content gap.
To find these gaps, find your FAQ page in the Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report. Click on it to bring you to the report for just that page. Then click the Navigation Summary tab above the trend line.
The navigation summary will show you the Previous Page Path for your FAQ page, which is basically a list of unsatisfying pages. The visitor looked, couldn’t find their answer, gave up and looked somewhere else.
Go back to each of those pages and ask yourself what questions were left unanswered. What info could be added. Make that a better, more detailed page and keep the visitor in the flow.
Mostly, FAQ pages are terrible for SEO.
SEO is about making a great page on a topic. More specifically, SEO is about making one of the top 10 pages on the internet for a topic, with the hopes of winning one of the top 10 placements in Google.
FAQ pages are neither focused on a single topic, nor are they the best page on any of those topics.
On the other hand, there may be content on your FAQ page that people search for all the time. If so, that content should get it’s own page with a very detailed, comprehensive answer to that frequently asked question.
If you go down that path (most companies don’t) you’ll end up with a FAQ section (a set of pages, each page answering a question in detail) rather than a single FAQ page.
In early 2019, Google started showing questions and answers from pages right in the search snippet when a page ranks. It looks pretty sweet.
It’s like a mini-People Also Ask box just for your page. To make this happen for your FAQ page, you’ll need to add the FAQ Schema to the page. Ask your developer.
But first, consider the impact. Although it may help the visitors get to the answer faster, it may also make it unnecessary to visit your site. Why leave Google? The answer is right there in the SERP.
Lily Ray reported this in a now-famous screenshot of Google Search Console. Impressions may go up, but clicks may go down. Consider it a warning.
See the Path Interactive guide to FAQ Schema for ideas on how to minimize the negative impact.
Lily Ray, SEO Director, PATH INTERACTIVE
Just because you added the structured data to your page, and assuming that it is marked as “eligible to appear in the SERPs” by the Rich Results Testing Tool, these two requirements are still not sufficient for Google to display FAQ Schema in the search results. Google has continuously tested how it chooses to display FAQ Schema since it unveiled this type of Rich Result in early 2019, with one of the biggest updates rolling out on July 15, 2020, when Google significantly rolled back the number of FAQ Schema results it displays in the SERPs.
Here are seven of the worst and the best FAQ page designs we looked at.
This section has answers to 375 questions. That is definitely enough to merit a search tool and categorization. It’s powered by the ZenDesk FAQ system, so of course it’s good!
This page answers 47 questions. They all fit on one page and the left-side subnavigation is really just jump links. It’s so clean and scannable, the search tool may be unnecessary.
This page answers 68 questions. Each category is an accordion and within each, each question is another accordion. So everything is tucked away nicely.
This section has 226 answers, so the search tool definitely makes sense. It’s big, good looking and goes deep into the content. This one is also powered by ZenDesk.
If you have questions about contacting Marketo Customer Care that weren’t answered on the contact page, this page is for you! It has seven answers.
And look at the content. Really a contact page disguised as an FAQ page. Can I contact you? How do I contact you? When can I contact you? This page probably shouldn’t exist.
This little help center contains 75 questions and answers. The design is stripped down to the minimum with hardly a pixel wasted. This is a UX testing tool company so they’ve probably confirmed it’s utility.
When you have a short list of questions, you don’t need search. You don’t need navigation. Just a simple list of accordions will do. This life insurance company does it well.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have RCN. It’s a design-heavy help section with bold colors, strong contrast and big icons.
It holds 371 FAQ articles including “How to power cycle your equipment” (turn it off and on) and “How to find out which remote control you have” (there are 16 different remotes so use the guide to find yours).
The most important information is the category names, but those are the smallest thing on the page. And a few of the labels are vague, such as “troubleshooting.”
They don’t have a page for “cancel service” which is likely a top question. Search for this and you’ll find a “How to change your service” page with nothing more than a phone number.
Of course, FAQ content is what every website needs. As we said, the website’s job is to answer questions. Visitors visit to get information. But that doesn’t mean that every site should have an FAQ page.
It’s the job of the website to make information easy to find. When a visitor clicks on a navigation label, they are telling the website what they want. That page should then serve up those answers. Ideally, answers to their questions should be right there, on that page.
A page called “Frequently Asked Questions” has a vague name, not specific to any topic. It says “Here is a lot of important information in one big pile.”
The best sites answer top questions on every page, in the flow and in context for the visitor. Visitors’ questions should be answered on the pages where the question popped into their mind.
If you have a complex offer and a visitor with lots of information needs, it may be a great idea to design an FAQ page. But do so thoughtfully. And then check it. A little bit of analysis goes a long way toward a better experience.