Link Marketing Tactic: Q&A Sites

When building SEO links for a site, a particular favorite tactic for me is the Q&A site – or “Answers” sites. Yahoo! Answers is probably the most recognizable example of this, though Linkedin Answers is also rather popular these days. These are sites where a user asks a question of the community, and anyone who has a relevant answer can chime in to help. From these a best answer is chosen – either by the person who asked, or by the rest of the community.

Answering questions may require you to cite the source for your answer, which could include a blog post on your own site. Perhaps you’ve addressed the issue in the past, or you created a post as a result of reading this question. Either way, you can use this as an opportunity to site yourself – both giving yourself a quality link, and also establishing yourself as an expert on the type of question that was asked. The link is good to have – but the added respect of being “in the know” on a subject, particularly one related to your business, is almost as good itself.

Let’s say you sell nutritional cleansing products – people may not be asking about “nutritional cleansing products” themselves, but may be asking things like, “I work out – is there a food supplement that will help me burn fat?” or “I feel sleepy all the time, but I sleep all the time. What’s happening?” Either question relates to a problem the nutritional supplements you sell could solve. If you provide answers to these users explaining how they need a specific supplement, you have an opportunity to sell your product’s benefits. What’s more, you aren’t just spewing ad copy to someone who wasn’t asking for it. By definition, this person is asking for your input.

What’s more, since the question and all of its answers will live on the site indefinitely, people who have the same question or problem can find this question, and your answer, indefinitely. If the page is indexed by a search engine, someone can do a search for, “work out food supplement burn fat” and potentially find their way to that first question. If the person asking decided your answer was the most constructive, then what you write will now be of benefit to the person who did the search too.

So answering questions will not only get you a link, but attract a variety of potential customers, all looking for help one way or the other.

There are two things you need to keep in mind when you are going to employ a Q&A link marketing tactic:

Make sure the Q&A site’s links are SEO friendly. This is really only important if you’re in it to increase your web site’s search presence. If you only care about finding relevant questions and building your authority on a subject, there is a wealth of sites you can peruse for questions.

However, if you are in this for links, you need to be sure the ones you create don’t have “nofollow” or “noindex” attributes. Webmasters will often put these on links to keep out spammers, or to retain their own site’s PageRank.

Below are the Q&A sites I’ve found that allow for SEO friendly links:

Unique Visitors External SEO links Clickable links
http://wiki.answers.com 19,219,385 Yes Yes
http://yedda.com/ * 867,564 Yes Yes
http://www.allexperts.com/ 232,622 Yes Yes
http://www.minti.com/questions-and-answers 92,431 Yes Yes

*Fair warning – I have had problems getting this page to work in the past.

Choose sites with a high amount of traffic. Yahoo! Answers made this kind of on line interaction very popular a few years ago, and at that time several more sites cropped up to get some of that Y! Answers magic to rub off on them. The fad has died down quite a bit since then, so while a few sites still have a good number of people asking questions, a lot more have been largely abandoned. Even if you do manage to find a relevant question on one of these sites, it’s likely no one will ever see it. (Though at least you know you have a good chance of giving the best answer – if only because there probably won’t be any other answers to choose from.)

Below are the top 5 Q&A sites for traffic:

Unique Visitors External SEO links Clickable links
http://answers.yahoo.com/ 36,098,872 No Yes
http://wiki.answers.com/ 19,219,385 Yes Yes
http://www.linkedin.com/answers 13,129,746 No Yes
http://www.answers.com/ 10,211,273 No No
http://www.mahalo.com/answers/ 3,994,889 No Yes

Make sure you are able to post a link. This is important – and I leave it for last so I can go off on it. If you are smart someone on a Q&A page, but you cannot in any way link back to your site, you haven’t done anything to further your marketing goals. It is good to be able to help someone, but even the reputation you could build on another site for knowing what you’re talking about won’t help you in any way if they can’t find their way to your blog or website and learn more.

Therefore, I suggest you steer clear of these three sites:

http://www.answers.com/

http://www.askmehelpdesk.com/

http://able2know.org/

Granted, www.answers.com gets a lot of traffic, but when you try to put a URL into an answer it only shows up as text. This won’t be followed by a search spider, and a user is far less likely to copy and paste it into their browser to visit your page. You can leave a link in your profile, but that link is also a nofollow, and users aren’t likely to leave the intended experience of the site – namely, browsing through questions and answers – in order to view your profile. Even if you become the de facto expert in your field, your profile link isn’t very noticeable on this site.

There are a number of other Q&A sites out there, mind you – I didn’t want to put out the entire list of the ones I researched, because frankly a lot of them aren’t worth your time. However, if you come across a new one, test it to see if it would be good to include in your Q&A campaign. Here’s what you do:

1)      Search the questions with, “best website for.” There should be a few questions with this phrase in it, and it demands an answer with a URL in it. If the ones you find can’t be clicked, you won’t be able to leave any real links either.

2)      If the answer you found in step one contains a clickable link, look at the source code to see if the link is “noindex, nofollow” or not.

3)      Check the site on Compete.com for traffic information.

I hope this helps you to get started on answering people’s questions while helping yourself to a great source of inbound links. Unlike a lot of other link marketing techniques which are a little disgusting in their spaminess, this is one that, if done right, will benefit other users as well.

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