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FAQ Pages Could Boost Your Google Rankings

Catering to Intent-based Search the Key

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In a recent report, Hitwise said that the length of search queries has increased over the past year. Longer search queries, averaging searches of 5+ words in length, have increased 10% from January ’08 to January ’09 they noted.

Ask has an interesting blog post up interpreting this data, and the gist of it is summed up with this paragraph from it:

In a nutshell, users are now expecting search engines to not just index the Internet, they are expecting search engines to process the data on the Internet. Searchers don’t consider their query to be just keywords; they are starting to expect that the search engine will understand the intent of the query better. Expressing a query with intent requires more words, and the user’s investment of more words means that his or her expectations on the search engine are higher. We are clearly experiencing a transition in the way that people are using the Internet.

Intent-based search. We’ve been hearing the phrase dropped more and more. In a popular WebProNews interview with Bruce Clay, late last year, he spoke of where search was headed and a good deal of that had to do with personalized search. The SearchWiki side of that has gotten the most attention in this area, but he had some things to say about intent-based search as well.

He talked about Google looking up your IP and revising results based on it while making assumptions about the intent of your search. This would have an affect on SEO, obviously. "The page that ranks for a shopping query is an entirely different architecture than the page that ranks for a research query," said Clay.

It’s a topic SEOBook author Aaron Wall and I discussed recently as well. Aaron noted that Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a recent conference call, "Wouldn’t it be nice if Google understood the meaning of your phrase rather than just the words that are in that phrase? We have a lot of discoveries in that area that [we] are going to roll out in the next little while."

Get Him to the Greek (2010)
Fair Game (2010)
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
The Ghost Writer (2010)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The Last Airbender (2010)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (2010)
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Robin Hood (2010)
Toy Story 3 (2010)
The A-Team (2010)
The Spy Next Door (2010)
Aaron Wall The idea of relevancy based on intent is a fantastic one, but chances are the search engines are still going to have to rely on the content that users create to increase search relevancy, at least in this manner. Google still has "a long way to go to get where they want to be with relevancy, but some of the issue of search is simply creating the incentive to make people want to create the content that really answers search queries well in a good format," Wall told WebProNews.

"Sometimes I see Matt Cutts post great how to posts about how to do different things in Ubuntu," he continued. "I believe he does that in part to feed answers into the search engine, especially if/when it did not provide an answer that was as good as he would like."

What is another great way to feed answers into a search engine? Keith Hogan, VP, Technology at Ask offers a piece of pretty sound advice for online businesses: "Web business should take notice of Question/Answering sites that have been built and SEO’d to fill the search engine rankings for these types of user questions (e.g. Q&A aggregators like WikiAnswers, AnswerBag, and Yahoo Answers). While this content is generally very relevant, content directly from companies could be more authoritative. Web businesses may benefit by creating FAQ content that is targeted at answering real user questions about their products."

FAQs as relevant results to intent-based searches about what your business offers. What a concept. And considering the emphasis Google seems to be putting on brand (although Matt Cutts says it’s not so much about brand exactly), it sounds like a can’t-miss.

FAQ for Rankings

As Mike McDonald of WebProNews suggested around New Year’s, look for more intent-based stuff coming from Microsoft as well, as it rebrands its search engine. That is what the company’s acquisition of Powerset was all about.

In concluding, let me work in two clichéd (but true) statements. Content is king and the " Internet is a cesspool." If only the entire world could work together to build quality content and clean it up, the web (or at least Google’s search results) would be a more relevant place. So which one will happen first, that or world peace?

FAQ Pages Could Boost Your Google Rankings
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  • http://www.theafternoonbreak.com Chris

    Wow – looks like internet searching just took a shot of adrenaline. Looking forward to easier, more relevant results when I search.

  • http://www.dogconstipation.org steve

    Well Its nice to know , google is doing all what it should to keep up its credibility as the worlds best search engine .

  • http://www.dslflatrate.net Info.DSL

    This is a fact we can recordnize the last years, this is not a new trend, but we have to controle the database, if it is right that the users use much words for search. In the example obove you use 10 WORDS, so the question is open, if the most users use one, two or there words OR they uses sentences like the example and so the result is an average of the search numbers. So the database-result is in the middle and this is than only a part of the truth. So maybe it is more different.

  • http://www.paidmails-vergleich.de Paidmails

    Hm, seems like I should make some sort of FAQ subpage then, great info.

  • http://dating.co.uk Jones Jitter

    I will implement this today!

  • http://www.flowersformothersday.org mothers day florist

    I can’t believe that Google would put any particular weight on a given site just because there might be a company brand associated with it. I tend therefore to agree with Matt Cutts on this one because if google did rank brands above all others then we would see larger, more powerful organisations outranking the smaller brethren very easily. Having such an uneven playing field was never part of Google’s ‘democracy’.

  • http://www.firmalatter.dk/latterkurser-og-workshops/latterkursus.htm Ejvind

    Great and sad. Interesting and scary as all major changes. It was a great video with lots of information and ideas as to what to don next on the SEO frontline.

    It becomes more and more difficult to compete, because we won’t know how our competision is doing, but we will know more accurately how we are doing, and why.

    Great article. thanks.
    (World peace will come first :-))

  • http://www.mattressmonster.co.uk matty

    Yup pagerank is on the way out…however if you have great unique content you should see better returns on traffic.

  • http://www.daines.uk.com Lee

    The Q&A sites are a good thing providing they are moderated well, I’ve seen a number a cases where the sites have been misused resulting in poor, misleading or immature content being displayed. Unfortunately this is a battle that will always exist.

  • http://www.cabudapest.com Budapest apartments

    It means long tail search will be more important.

  • http://www.eco-dummy.com Paz

    Time will tell no doubt but I for one am not that excited by these types of changes.

    Geo targeting for me is a nightmare! Changing my pages and google results into Spanish just because i live in Spain is a constant bug bear as it is, now they are going to tell me what Im searching for by using this information even more? Crazy. Even more crazy when 90% of domains are actually hosted in USA. I dont look forward to the days I rank only in a certain state in America for researchers only.

    Most good quality websites that sell products or services even, have learnt that creating good content helps the sales. In essence then we are all shopping sites even if we are loaded with research. Why on earth would you want to seperate these websites into seperate category results?

    Is the next stage going to be that we have to select what hat we are wearing today, be it traveler hat or learning hat or business hat? What if they are intertwined? Most businesses cross into different sectors. Will searchers or researchers start having to hide there ip’s or changing their profile somehow every time they make a search? Seems quite obvious that they would.

    Sorry Google but my intent and profile of each search I make is multi dimensional. I want to see all results for a term so that I can smile at, moan at, research and shop at, interact with or get instant answers on (which unfortunately causes a high bounce rate if an answer is there immediately, in itself making it a risky assessment angle – ‘dictionary’ websites for example must have the worst bounce rates going, 5 seconds, got my answer, ty, goodbye.)

    Dont get excited yet, as I say, Time will Tell whether this works or whether we are all back with ‘live’ in another year or so.

  • Joseph Wunsch

    I laugh whenever someone mentions this “ranking is dead” lie.

    It makes me remember the late 90′s when all the buzz was how book and magazines were dead, because reading books on the computer was easier, faster, cheaper, easier to scan through, easier to store, etc.

    Well here it is over a decade later, and are books dead? No…. There are still millions of books produced every year.

    Sure, results will get more personalized, and the intent search is great, but there will always be a ranking aspect to the algorithm in my opinion.

    • Chris Crum

      This follow up video with Bruce Clay may be of interest. He revisits the “ranking is dead” statement.

  • http://designpakistan.com WebDesign

    It will be good if google knows the intent of our search rather than the exact words. Maybe, in future we could just talk what we want to search and google finds relevant results.

  • http://wehner.org Charles Douglas Wehner

    Google grew big because of skinny files, and a fast rate of delivery.

    Grammar is a problem. Particularly as people like to boldly split infinitives. It should be “boldly to split” or “to split boldly”. That way, translation machines can translate “to split” as “spalten” (German) or “cliver” (French) for example. The “translation” clue shows that the machine has “understood”.

    However, there are so many permutations of grammar that the program would be slow unless special techniques (like my “differation”) are used.

    There is also the Neural Net. Microsoft tried this trick on their search engine.

    A look-up table of synonyms is however, very easy to implement – and fast.

    To have FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) one needs to have a human in attendance, answering those questions. Most webmasters cannot afford such expense.

    So until we have robotic question-answering, the nearest thing to “Intelligent Search” seems to be synonyms.

    Charles Douglas Wehner

  • http://www.yoursonaughty.com Knickers

    I think webmasters have become obsessed with it, however my main site has droped to a PR of three and sites I have parked for years still have a PR of 5.

    My main site has fresh content every day 1,000′s of links and lots of traffic.

    My parked sites have 5-10 visitors a month and no more than 10 links and all say this domain is for sale on them.

    The interesting thing is I have a page 1 on very competitive term on Google on a page that now has a PR of 2.

    I understand how PR works, I just don’t think Google is getting it right, and think they must have changed the way they calculate it??!!

    Anyone else have this view or experience?

    None of the above are my new venture which I have linked too here!

  • http://www.yoursonaughty.com Knickers

    I think webmasters have become obsessed with it, however my main site has droped to a PR of three and sites I have parked for years still have a PR of 5.

    My main site has fresh content every day 1,000′s of links and lots of traffic.

    My parked sites have 5-10 visitors a month and no more than 10 links and all say this domain is for sale on them.

    The interesting thing is I have a page 1 on very competitive term on Google on a page that now has a PR of 2.

    I understand how PR works, I just don’t think Google is getting it right, and think they must have changed the way they calculate it??!!

    Anyone else have this view or experience?

    None of the above are my new venture which I have linked too here!

    • http://www.shawproductionslasvegas.com Guest

      First of all I think you have too many links. You said you have 1,000′s of links? Also, you need to remove links that are not relevant to your site and remove links that say “this domain is for sale”. Also, it’s not just how much traffic you get but how long people stay on your site.
      I have worked very hard on my website so that if you searched “videography las vegas” our company (Shaw Productions) comes up number one.

  • http://www.lifestyleclotheslines.com.au Sydney Clotheslines

    We are in the stages of re doing our FAQ pages to be more in tune with what our customers are asking questions about our products. Sounds like this would be better done sooner rather than later and may help our our rankings!

  • http://www.organise.net.au SEO Central Coast

    We find that creating articles on your websites with a question in the title works well in the same way. We create a new article each week and most get indexed straight away and do well in Google eg Is your Personal Computer running Slow?. We get 100 of hits on this article every month meaning more visitors to our website meaning more leads :)

    • Joan

      What’s REALLY sad, is that people speak these days in such horrible grammatically incorrect sentences as that one above.
      “Is your Personal Computer running Slow”…well why would you capitalise the word ‘slow’, and ‘slow’ is an adjective, not an adverb.
      If you want to talk about a lack of speed, the word to use is ‘slowly’, i.e. “Why is your PC running slowly?”

      • Joseph Wunsch

        Honestly, it is very true. I forget the word specifically, but I once found a word that according to keyworddisocvery, the misspelling of the word get 25X more searches per month than the correct spelling of the word. It began with an I and had to do with anxiety, but honestly don’t remember and to lazy to look it up, so just making a point.

        I found that number quite shocking, I had to SEO for the misspelling of the word due to sheer traffic.

        • http://www.gallantgifts.com GallantInc

          That would be assuming that search engines are only used as ways to find products or specific sites.

          I use Google multiple times per day as a dictionary. Seeing as how Google is my homepage, it is just easier to type in the word I’m looking for and the “Did you mean xxxxxx” link at the top gives me the correct spelling, or based on the search results I know I have the correct meaning of the word. I have no intentions of ever actually clicking on any of the results. Works great!

  • http://www.classiccarpartsclub.com Tony Lee

    I can’t say I thought about this before Google did, but I must say I’ve been entertained from some long tail search phrases that I’ve seen that brought users to my sites.

  • http://www.ammgospel.com P. Akubueze

    The idea is quite true that FAQ can greatly influence search engines results, although I didn’t consider this at first. FAQ, articles and other contents found in pages are, to me, relevant issues that increase traffic and from where visitors may come into a site.

  • http://www.eighty8online.com Small Business SEO

    It makes so much sense that a page that answers questions on your product or service will help search engines get at the intent that a user was after. Great idea to enhance the FAQ page with this in mind.

    As for PR, I don’t think it’s dead, just less important on its own than it was initially.

    • http://models.femalemodels-hq.com Guest

      yes i am agree with u..

  • http://passionate-evolution.blogspot.com SocialPMChick

    Good post… I have also found success in further defining content on a site through a SEO driven glossary and creating back links to the related content within the site.

    The note about page rank for commerce queries versus research queries I could argue the point they should be one in the same from a commerce site’s perspective.

    I work to provide enough information on my commerce site product pages, that when a user is researching a potential purchase – if I’ve done my job properly, the product page is ranked and “re”search query leads them right to the product page, answers all their questions AND generates a sale.

    Great post – thanks for sharing!

  • permacrisis

    Sounds like a few search eggheads have been slurping the Dumpster Runoff liquid from up the road at Ebay. They broke that search pretty quick and it seems to me like the whole lot turned up on the Google doorstep looking for work. Thank God for non-competes, it means we still have a year before the REAL insanity starts… Page ran dead?? Don’t you believe a word of it.

    ‘Relevancy’ as described above is entirely subjective and requires some type of centralized control. I cringe at the very mention. While page rank can be manipulated, it is still pretty hard to bribe the model outright. The new model OTOH sounds ripe for a hijacking.

    Google are the Internet Good Guys. I truly hope they don’t get co-opted by the same infantile clowns that have been screwing up a good thing everywhere else.

  • http://www.seosean.com Affordable SEO Services

    I think FAQ pages are great but would only boost rankings for those new keywords you can target based off the now new content you added. Therefore it’s not generally going to aid in boosting your rankings for keywords you’re already targeting.

  • Guest

    Place a FAQ page is not only great for your viewers, but also your ranking. However, I would think you would obviously need new keywords here for this to be effective.

    For example, we develop Electronic Business Cards for companies. Now, we have optimized for many of the words related to this marketing tool including how companies have achieved outstanding response rates, how they can use them in place of marketing personnel, benefits, costs, etc. So, an FAQ would need to be keywords not already mentioned on other pages.

    Just a thought,
    Brad

  • http://randomplaza.com/ Richard C Mongler

    I have various help pages on my site and I don’t have one big ugly FAQ nor separate FAQ pages. I put small Q & A’s where they are appropriate and I think it’s easy to navigate and find information that way. It looks like google wants to reward people for cumbersome site design.

    Whenever I try to find something on google, it’s always the spammy sites and those good at gaming google that rank at the top. Same with other search engines, too.

    • http://www.digitalbranders.com Preeti

      Agree with you Richard. More often than not when I am trying to find something on the internet, the top few search results are spammy and don’t really have the info I need. Search engines ‘do’ need to do something about this.

      Again, have had FAQ/ Help info in other form on some of my sites but these pages are not among the top entry pages. Well, atleast not as of now. Lets see how things go once they start displaying results based on the intent of the query.

  • http://www.knowledgebase-script.com FAQ Manager Script

    This is a very nice post. I’d recommend using PHPKB Script for creation and management of a FAQ system for your website. Online demo is available on the website http://www.knowledgebase-script.com

  • http://highpointseo.com Denver SEO

    Google wants to deliver relevant results for user’s queries. If more people are using long tail searches to find the answers that they want, it’s Best Practice to answer your user’s regular questions, and will allow the search engines to rank you for those searches that are not your typical 2-3 word query.

    Going to create a new FAX page tonight for this purpose alone.

  • http://nepalsites.blogspot.com Interesting Blog

    many people like to see FAQ or Q&A for services or products. Bigger companies have FAQ under various sections. its good that the search engines give importance to such pages. this further goes on to prove that content is the king.

  • http://www.htmlcut.com Serge

    Sometimes FAQ is the only place where you can read about a service or product in language of human beings, not in marketing words. As a result, FAQ can be easier to understand both for people and search engines than Home or product pages. Also, you can describe your services/products in a little different way on the FAQ page and make the picture more comprehensive – again, both for readers and search engines.

    Serge

  • Chris Crum

    Sounds like a good plan.

  • http://www.readymix-concrete.com/faq.php ready mix concrete faq

    Great article about the FAQ and why Matt Cutts posts particular topics (especially on linux I love that OS). I agree the internet is a cesspool of bad info and spammy results and it’s the website owners (or SEO’s) that can be blamed for this. Recently I heard that Google is placing higher weight on major brands, which sucks for the little guy but makes sense.

  • http://www.loudmarket.com Mechanic Schools Directory

    The video above with the BC interview is the single most important SEO video of the last 5 years. Watch it. Then watch it again.

  • http://www.movie666.com/ Deke Thornton

    Seems like an easy enough thing to add to a website… why not try it? Every little things helps. I’m working on mine now…

  • http://www.earringsforever.com EarRings

    Worth trying out, hey it might work.

  • http://decentsms.com latest sms

    i will definitely try it on my sms website http://decentsms.com, i got this in my email, great article ..:)

  • http://peacerumblestore.blogspot.com/ chris

    It’s worth a try.

  • http://www.bronsonharrington.com Bronson

    Well, FAQ’s have always been a winner in my book.

    FAQ’s make for great user generated content and help lighten the load on support staff by allowing the users to help themselves and each other without having to engage in sales talk.

    FAQ’s are the kind of useful content (when relevant and well written) that will attract it’s own authority in the form of inbound links over time.

    As for PR, it’s more a measure of trust than rank and should always be taken with a pinch of salt.

  • http://www.21stsoft.com colorado web developer

    Enlightening.

    We have been putting off FAQ pages, but it’s on my list now. Chasing Google…

  • http://panthom.co.cc setyo

    Well, May be a time I will try

  • http://www.productremember.com Emma

    FAQ’s make for great user generated content and help lighten the load on support staff by allowing the users to help themselves and each other without having to engage in sales talk.

    FAQ’s are the kind of useful content (when relevant and well written) that will attract it’s own authority in the form of inbound links over time.

  • http://www.search-usability.com ShariThurow

    Um, people?

    I REALLY hate to be condescending, but I’ve been doing this since 1995. And I think it is really, really sad that people are “wowing” over this tip.

    Aaron Wall didn’t come up with this strategy. Many, many SEOs have been doing this for years, building user-friendly (and search-friendly) FAQs, Customer Service, and Help sections. They’ve been doing it since 1994-1995.

    PageRank sculpting has been done long before Google came into existence. (And if you still believe PageRank is a number between 1 and 10, I suggest you do your SEO research more thoroughly). I know that sounds contradictory, but artificially sculpting an information architecture has been done in the 90s. By artificially sculpting, I mean giving search engines one version of an IA, and end users another version.

    Long-tail has been done long before SEO marketers came up with the term.

    So…YAWN. People, please. Do more thorough research. Quit falling prey to people who honestly believe they invented this new SEO technique. Most of it has been done already.

    Sorry to be so blunt. It’s just frustrating to see people fall for SEO marketing b.s.

    –Shari

    • http://www.valeriebooth.com Valerie Booth

      Amen. It can be frustrating to see that which you have been doing all along heralded as new, or written about as if it were a revelation. I’m with you Shari, since 1997.

      But I want to add that there are folks out there who benefit from this tip – no matter how ancient the advice (well, ancient in internet time!).

      And for plenty of others, reading this may simply confirm what that may have intuited all along, but not tested.

      So, all in all, it was worth the bandwidth.

    • http://www.mountain-lodging.com Geezer Geek

      As ussual, where ever Shari tosses in her egotistical profundities, it becomes more and more clear that she is not wanting to share anything other than to self-promote herself by denegrating anybody else’s contributions. Her first sentance is partially correct; she is being condescending, but disingenuous by claiming to hate being so!

  • http://www.autoakseeds.com jj

    well worth investing in faq pages

  • http://Xerces.com/ dalaixerces

    IMO, it’s clear that these types of pages are beneficial — the question in my mind is “how much”? What amount of $ or man-hours are justified for the associated SE benefits?!

  • http://www.affiliate-rocks.blogspot.com Julius Affiliate Rocks

    This is very helpful to us especially to those who wants to be on top on searches at Google. I will put this info. at my blog and let see if what happens.

    Cheers,

    Julius

  • http://www.firmalatter.dk/latterkurser-og-workshops/latterkursus.htm Ejvind

    It makes total sense that we are going to include FAQ and search on our sites, if we are to give the users a better experience. And as everyone says, Google are looking for good user experiences, before they rank anyone high. Up until now that ranking has been based on content for a large portion, but we must face that usability in the long run will win.

  • http://souravs.corexprts.com Sourav Sen

    Usefull info…
    I think FAQ pages eases visitors or customers headache to know about the services of a company.we are often advised to use sitemaps for visitors.Similarly FAQ pages will also be useful to visitors.

  • http://www.dbcworld.in/ B Biswanath

    Hello Dear,
    I think that, the FAQ section is a very useful for viewer or prospect. Because many of the questions are already answered in FAQ Section. I am also include this feature with video tutorial in my site.
    Now the matter is that, if Google give appropriate PR for our effort then it will become a Reward for us.
    Regards,
    B Biswanath
    (Webmaster),
    DBCWorld.In

  • http://www.franchisetoown.com Franchise Opportunities

    I am always trying read on the latest “what if” I incorporate that into my site. the FAQ is a must and one which will be added very soon.

  • http://NewSunSEO.com NY Internet Marketing

    This is a great piece of advice in regards to SEO.

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