Over the years, you’ve likely noticed that Google’s search results page has evolved from a long list of web pages to a collection of information boxes, categorized and localized resources, maps, and embedded tools like flight trackers and calculators. Google is no longer just in the search business. It’s in the “provide me the answer” business. In other words, we don’t use Google to look for web pages when we type into the search box—we’re looking for answers. Your business website and Google business listing should help us get the answers we’re looking for.
When we type in a search question or use a voice-activated query, we’re often looking for answers about a nearby place to eat, how to spell a word, or the specifications of a part we need to order to fix a factory machine.
And as the internet rapidly evolves toward a mobile-first medium, finding answers faster and faster is the experience we want and expect most from Google. This is a challenge for Google—more than 90 percent of its revenues come from advertising promoting a click to an advertiser’s link, so Google must evolve its business to turn answers appearing on its page into revenue.
When potential or current customers come to your website, they’re looking for answers, not questions.
When people use Google to find something related to the products and services your business provides, Google rewards websites that provide the best answers, fastest. While all of the design and color choices you devote to creating your site may be important to reflect your brand, when it comes to helping people purchase your product or service, the reward goes to the best answers, not the best colors.
Potential customers want answers while deciding whether to buy your product or service. They want to know whether to purchase the item from you or another provider. They want answers after the purchase when they can’t figure out how to fill out a form or connect Part A with Part B.
Where is the worst place to provide answers to customers?
On the page labeled “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ). Publisher, software developer and author Kathy Sierra has described a FAQ as being an admission of failure. “A FAQ says to your customer that you can’t figure out how to organize your website in a helpful way. Organize your entire site to be chock-full of answers, not just a list on a page,” she advises.