The internet is always evolving. And so are the tactics we use to get people’s attention on it. SEO, linking building, social media—these are all things we can do to boost our site traffic and get noticed by search engines. Because, let’s be honest, Google is where you need to be to get noticed on the internet. And most users won’t even go past the first 5-10 results on a page before trying something different. And since almost half of users click on the first search engine result, you want to get right there where the most people will click on you. And one of the ways to do that is to get as many links back to your site as possible scattered across the internet.
Backlinks to boost your SEO can be posted on other websites, blogs, social media, and more. And one of the fastest growing areas of the internet right now are Q&A sites. Generally, Q&A sites are open to the public (and by extension search engine spiders) and offer advice on a wide range of topics. Usually, they are simply places where anyone can ask a question and just about anyone can answer. As such they can be extremely popular, and show up very well in search results.
The first benefit of Q&A sites is that they are generally open to the public. One example is Yahoo Answers. Yahoo Answers does not lie behind a login screen and is freely accessible by search engines. So when users type questions into search engines (which is an increasing trend over keywords) Q&A sites are already optimized to appear in a good position.
Secondly, they can give good advice. Google recently introduced the farmer update that effectively shuts out many content farming websites; however, sites like eHow and a handful of Q&A sites actually rose in the rankings. That means, in general, users find Q&A sites helpful in their search. Perhaps this is because the question/answer format is so straightforward and gets users to the information they are seeking quickly. Granted, not all Q&A sites have great answers, but a lot do, which boost their standing with search engines.
Third, sites like Google like to give users a variety of different types of sources when they search for content. So that means, they don’t want to display all Wikipedia results for a search, or all company websites for a search. Instead, users will get a variety. So consider Q&A sites as another type of site that Google can display, increasing your exposure and boosting your SEO.
Lastly, generally anyone can post. You might have to create a login to leave a question or answer, but that is simple. Besides, if anyone can answer a befuddling question, why can’t your company, accompanied by a link that points back to more information on your website or blog? If you have a reasonably well-thought-out answer that inspires confidence in the reader, there is a good chance they’ll click your link to get more information. (And, of course, links on Q&A sites can be great backlinking opportunities to boost your SEO.)
There are a couple of different ways you can go about working with Q&A sites to build some backlinks and increase your SEO: answers and questions.
Let’s talk about answers for a minute. One strategy for SEO link building is simply to go to the sites where people are asking questions and leave an informative and helpful answer. When users see the great answer you’ve left, they will be more likely to trust you as a source of information and click through to your website. This strategy both gives you more backlinks and boosts your site traffic. The trick, however, is that you have to provide good information. That is the only way users will respect your answer and click through. If you simply drop a links and say, “click here,” they never will. Show them what you know and they’ll come to you.
But what about questions? Sure, you can start a Formspring.me or Quora account, to ask questions or have people ask you questions directly, but why not bring all that content and link love inside your own site. One of the best ways to build SEO is by becoming a trusted resource to the community. So why not set yourself up as a trusted authority by dedicating a portion of your site to publicly accepting questions and giving answers? Not only will the content on your internal Q&A site be SEO gold (chocked full of keywords and phrases) but you’ll set yourself up as a trusted member of the community who isn’t afraid to interact with the public and give away some really good information. When users see that you are willing to publicly take on their question in the service of helping them, you’ll build a great reputation, garner more traffic, and gain more backlinks as users all over the internet link to you as a trusted source in your field.
And when that happens, your Q&A site will be the one that come up on the top of the search results page, getting all the traffic love you need to boost your site traffic and SEO.
Q&A sites are a non-traditional form of increasing your SEO, but an extremely effective one. If you can take proper advantage of Q&A sites—whether within or outside your own website—you’ll do more than simply build links. You’ll be creating an environment where you are the trusted resource everyone turns to when they have a question. And being a resource has more sustaining SEO power than simply a bunch of links scattered across the internet. When users see you as a resource, Google will too, and you’ll get all the SEO love you’ll ever need.
Brad Anderson is the Founder and CEO of Fruition. Brad’s focus is supporting Fruition’s team to enable sustainable growth and excellent client satisfaction (EBITDA growth). With a strong statistical background, Brad built Fruition’s in-house software that is used to manage client success.
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