Quick: How many kilometers are in a nautical mile? Where is the original Starbucks Coffee located? Thanks to the near constant access to the Internet that many of us have, it’s possible to resolve these questions in a matter of seconds (the answers are 1.852 and Pikes Place Market in Seattle, respectively). But if you didn’t have the Internet, what would you do? You could ask a group of friends, but their answers might not be as reliable. There’s always the library, but that takes more time and effort than it might be worth to you.
Luckily, the Internet doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere, because it not only gives us quick and easy access to factual data, but also advice from other Internet users on everything from finding the best bagel shop in New York to treating a common cold. In fact, there are a number of social Q&A sites specifically designed to connect users with questions to users with answers.
What Q&A Sites Are All About
Q&A websites are more or less what they sound like: anyone can post a question that they need an answer to, and anyone can post an answer in response. Many times questions will receive multiple answers, and users can vote for the answers they think are the most helpful. Some sites also allow users to comment on specific answers.
You may already be seeing how this type of site could potentially benefit businesses. After all, if someone posts the question, “Where can I get good smoothies in San Antonio?” and you own a smoothie shop in San Antonio, it would obviously behoove you to answer and recommend your smoothie shop. Beyond the obvious applications, though, there are many ways that businesses and marketing teams can use Q&A sites to raise their SEO ranking and improve their advertising campaigns. Read on to learn exactly what Q&A sites can do for your business.
How Q&A Sites Can Benefit Your Business
While some types of social media sites are better suited for certain niche types of businesses, just about any company can benefit from Q&A sites – as long as they use them intelligently.
Q&A sites provide a great forum for promoting your business without seeming, well, overly promotional. One of the best ways to raise brand awareness and improve your SEO ranking is to include links when you answer questions. Of course, if you start going around to various Q&A sites and responding just to tack on a link to your business’s home page at the end of your answer, readers are likely to be suspicious (even if you’ve provided a good answer). Instead, you need to work on including natural links. For example, if you recently updated your business’ blog with a post on how to change your car’s oil, you might respond to a question about changing oil by saying something like “You can see a good step-by-step guide here: [insert link].”
Another advantage of Q&A sites is that they tend to be updated frequently. People love giving input when there’s a question on the table, so even someone has already answered it, there’s a good chance more responses will follow. This means that Google will recognize that new content is regularly being added to the question page, which will help it rank highly in search engine results.
Q&A sites also help connect you with a targeted audience. For example, if you run a tech start-up and are providing answers to tech-related questions, the people who are searching for those answers are going to be the people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services. That way, you’re getting qualified leads rather than people who quickly bounce away from your site after clicking on a link.
If you’re not convinced of the power of these sites yet, consider the fact that you can also use them to improve your social media marketing campaign. By searching for your keywords on Q&A sites and seeing what types of questions people are asking, you can figure out what people are most interested in and adjust your marketing plan accordingly.
Individual Social Networks in this Category
There’s no shortage of Q&A pages out there, and you’ll likely see the best results if you use multiple sites. Here are a few you should check out.
AllExperts. AllExperts is like the wise grandfather of Q&A platforms. It boasts that it is the oldest and largest free Q&A service online, with more than 2 million questions answered across a diverse range of categories such as health/fitness and travel.
Amazon’s Askville. Askville seems to get a lot of tech-related questions and answers, making it a good place to search if you work in the electronics and tech industry. However, questions are not limited to this category, and the site features some detailed and thoughtful (as well as unusual) queries and responses.
Answers.com With its sleek layout and easy means of finding answers via either search bar or category, Answers.com has established itself as a leading authority, and its questions regularly appear high in the search engine rankings.
LinkedIn. By now you probably already know LinkedIn as the foremost social media platform for working professionals, but you may not know that they’re also in the question answering business. LinkedIn Answers often take on a “wisdom of the crowds” format, where people will analyze a question from different angles and respond based on their area of expertise. Many times, answers can work together to provide the questioner with a broad range of perspectives. It’s also a great site to start making a name for yourself as an expert in your field.
Super User. This site isn’t going to be useful for every marketer, but if you’re in the tech industry, it may be perfect for you. It’s aimed specifically at computer enthusiasts and power users, so expect a lot of very technical questions and answers.
Quora. A major crowd pleaser, Quora has become one of the most popular Q&A sites because it allows users to do so many different things. Not only can users search for, ask, and answer specific questions, they can also follow topics, people, and questions (making it perfect for the naturally curious individual with niche interests). It also has a reputation for receiving high quality answers from experts in their field, including big names like Mark Zuckerberg and Stephen Fry.
Yahoo! Answers. You’ve probably already heard of Yahoo! Answers – it’s usually towards the very top of search engine results when people Google a question. Although not all the answers are of the highest caliber, the sheer breadth of Yahoo! Answers makes it a force to be reckoned with. If you can establish yourself as a credible source on this platform, you’ll be able to significantly increase your traffic.