Answering questions from your customers and clients is a great source of material for your website’s blog. Not only are you providing valuable information, but you know that this is information people are looking for, so it will really help your search engine visibility.
Even if you already have a Frequently Asked Questions page, you can write individual blog posts that answer questions. Then, on your FAQ page, you can add a shortened version of the answer, with a link to the full answer in the blog post. If you don’t have an FAQ page, then create a blog category called FAQ and assign all these answer posts to that category. The listing page for the category becomes your FAQ page!
Here are some points to remember when answering questions in a blog post:
- Use visuals as much as possible: images certainly, but if you can add in a video, even better. They don’t have to be your images or videos (assuming you have permission to use them), but using your own makes the information more unique and likely more focused because you’re taking pictures and video directly related to what you’re talking about.
- Be as detailed as possible: the aim here is to be as helpful as you can, so don’t skimp on details. Plus, you don’t want to take for granted your readers’ level of knowledge.
- Be as local/specific as possible: the more you can tailor your answer to a location or a specific situation, the better. It’s more useful for your particular audience and it also helps the search engines to index you in the most relevant way.
- Don’t be just an advertisement: the help you offer IS your advertisement – of your skills, of your concern for your customers. Of course you can mention as part of the help that you offer such and such service or stock a particular product, but that can’t be the focus of the piece.
- Don’t be afraid to link elsewhere: if there’s a high quality website that has a great answer to the question, provide your own insights on the issue and then link to that site. Your goal is to help, not to be the only source of information.
- Make the question your title: not only does this set up your answer, but it helps with the search engines because your title is now close to the way people often search – by asking questions. Some examples: How often should I contribute to my mutual fund? Is it ok to cover my plants in plastic? BTW the wording of those headlines came from starting to enter phrases into Google and seeing what came up.
Now, the sticking point for a lot of people: where do I come up with questions to answer?
- Listen to your customers/clients: they’re asking you questions all the time, but we’re often so busy answering them and moving on to the next person that we don’t make a note of them. Keep a pad handy by the phone/computer to write things down or record on your smartphone after talking to a client. Most of the blog posts on this website are based on questions my clients are asking every day.
- Ask your customers/clients/visitors: ask customers in your shop or have a note on your website soliciting questions. In one of your emails to your list, ask them for questions or conduct a survey.
- Check the competition: look on competitor sites to see what questions are being answered there. Write a variation of the question and, of course, write your own answer.
- Check the search engines: by Googling a topic, you’ll quickly see what questions people are asking about it.
- Check question sites: people are constantly posting on question and answer sites (here’s a list from Wikipedia). You can usually narrow the subject matter on these general sites, but even better if you can find one specific to your industry/topic. LinkedIn groups is one place you can look for specific questions and answers.
- Check forum sites: forums are the original version of question and answer sites, and are often very focused. When you search a forum, don’t stop with the most recent threads – a question from 15 years ago is likely still useful. Actually joining a relevant forum and posting answers there is also a great way of adding to your visibility on the web (and you can still post a different, longer version of your answers on your website).