History of Question and Answer Websites
Question and answer websites have become more popular over the last few years with the rise of such sites as Wiki Answers, Yahoo Answers, and Answer Bag. Google was one of the original pioneers of the Q&A website, but they found it hard to manage and the return on investment was not great enough to bring in a high enough profit, so it was terminated (although you can still find remnants of it around the web).
Recently there has been some backlash towards question and answer websites due to their inability to provide quality and trusted answers to their hundreds of thousands of questions. In general their pages are of low quality due in part to the lack of content (short answers) and their social/anyone can answer a question approach. This social approach is good in that it created a social community of die hard “answer addicts” that would answer thousands of questions a month (thus generating mass amounts of content for the Q&A websites for free), but it also produced a mass amount of low quality pages. Many of these sites have a difficult time keeping their pages in the search engines index and therefor ranking, due to the quality content concerns. Some of these sites have supplemented their poorly answered questions, and pages that don’t have answers, by partnering with other large content websites to try and beef up these thin pages by adding a relevant RSS feed under the primary content to try and trip Google into thinking these pages were of value (this was not as successful as hoped).
As we at LinchPin SEO know, the quality of the writing, content length, citation of highly trusted websites within research articles, and diversity of keywords around the central theme, are all positive on-page quality factors. These factors are a few of the signals to the search engines that the page contains quality information and is backed by trusted sources.
Why Answer Questions and Participate
While from an SEO standpoint these sites have come under scrutiny, they still hold social value and targeted traffic driving value. These Q&A websites have built in communities of hundreds of thousands of people that participate daily (and whom are consumers of the products your business offers). When marketing your articles one tip we can give you is that you should socialize and spread your research throughout the web (not by copying them and pasting them on other sites) by linking to them and participating in established online communities; Q&A sites fall into that bucket.
How To Answer Questions
As mentioned above many of these sites are riddled with poor quality answers that are either incomplete or in most cases just wrong. Because the articles you will write (with our guidance) will be of high quality, there are opportunities for your small business to utilize your research articles that have been published on your website and link to them from the answers you give on the Q&A websites, thus providing value and driving targeted traffic and sales.
What is the best approach to this?
1. Search the Q&A sites based on the topics you have written about.
2. Find unanswered questions or questions that have poor answers.
3. Write a short answer to the question 75-100 words.
4. Provide a link back to the article on your site that has a more complete answer.
Utilizing Your Profile Page
When you sign up for these question and answer websites you will get a profile that you can fill out. These profiles can be used to write a short bio. In this bio you can provide a link back to your website’s “about us” section or a page that has your bio on it. As you increase your presence and personal brand on the Q&A websites and the community starts to recognize you as a consistent and trusted contributor, they will start visiting your profile page to learn more about you. This will prompt some of them to click through to read the information about your small business.