Posted in Development | 8-min read
The content marketing game can be frustrating at times.
You’ve created some great pieces relevant to your area of expertise, but still not seeing the amount of traffic that you’d like. You know your field inside and out and you’re just looking to share your knowledge with the world in order to gain leads. How can you help get more eyes on your content short of shelling out money on paid advertisements? In this piece, we’re going to look at becoming an online authority by answering questions where they are being asked.
“Where are people asking questions online?”
Every day, people type any number of queries into search engines in hopes of getting their questions answered. The answers to these questions may come in the form of helpful articles and videos, much like the content you’ve probably already created. Other questions may be asked on forum websites such as Reddit, Quora, and Yahoo Answers.
While many answers to questions may be short and not as helpful, there is a growing presence of subject matter experts. These whizzes have almost completely built their reputations by delivering authoritative answers on these sites. This “Dear Abby” approach to problem-solving is a complete win-win for all parties. But how does it help you?
“How can answering questions on forums help me?”
The standard query-searcher may look at some of these informative sites and ask, “I appreciate the heck out the answers these people are providing, but why do they spend so much time being so helpful? Do they just have huge hearts?”
While some authoritative experts may just answer problems online to be nice or for fun, the majority of the more trustworthy sources benefit immensely from their own answers. If you look closely at most of the answers these individuals share, in addition to providing an exhaustively helpful solution, they may also provide a link to more in-depth solutions as well as products and services to remedy said problem.
Example: Let’s say that someone was asking for the best way to keep cats from tearing up mini-blinds. Some answers from cat lovers may just be a few helpful tips in passing. The more thorough replies, in addition to suggestions about augmenting the behavior of the cat, may include links to products to help remedy this issue. Some of these links may be third-party affiliate marketers being helpful in order to sell products. Other link-sharers may be representatives from companies that specialize in feline behavioral products or mini-blind products.
Save the Day and Gain Traffic
By establishing the trust of the solution seeker, they also have warmed up this lead in their favor. Some people may even do business with them over the competition as a means of saying “thank you” for replying to their individual query. As the query remains on the forum-style site and more people with a similar question also remedy their issue thanks to the problem solver’s advice, this translates into increased traffic to the site. With forum sites such as Reddit and Quora, the users are allowed to rank the effectiveness of the answer which increases its visibility. More visibility means more traffic.
How to Answer Questions with Authority
If helping people while helping your own authority and website traffic sounds like a winning combination, there are a few concepts to consider before getting started.
Your intent: What are you looking to gain from answering a specific question? Before you hop on Quora and just start answering questions in your wheelhouse, take a targeted approach.
Let’s say that your intent with your answers today is to bring more traffic to a specific piece of content you’ve previously created. If you have a piece of content that provides advice to new homeowners about how to meet their neighbors, you’ll want to target questions that your piece of content can answer.
The tone of your delivery: Forum solution seekers are there for answers from a dedicated community — not to be sold to.
When answering their solution online, it’s best to not lead with your piece of content. Right of the gate, forum users don’t know you and have no reason to trust a link from you. Provide a useful solution to their problem using language that is clear, concise, professional, and friendly. Your useful solution and warm tone will help convince them to, perhaps, click on a link that you have provided.
The answer itself: There are some marketers on these forum sites who feel that they can save time by simply pasting their helpful article into the answer field of the question listed.
While this is true, there are two problems with this technique:
Firstly, search engines do not tend to think highly of what is called “duplicate content” — reuse of word-for-word blocks of content. Usually, these pieces will be penalized with low rankings or even be blocked from indexing.
Secondly, simply pasting in the entirety of your content gives the forum-goer no insensitive to navigate to your website. If a movie trailer posted online just played the entire movie, would you feel the need to see it in the theater?
The same can be said for your content. In your answer, it is best to give a summary of your answer while alluding that a more in-depth solution to their dilemma exists in your linked article content.
When providing your summary answer, do not paste an article copy into the answer. Doing so will cause the reader will feel alienated once they notice the exact same content on your website. This will cause them to feel that your forum answer was insincere. They want to feel that you’re specifically answering their question.
“How frequently should I be answering questions?”
While it would be easy enough to fill an entire day of answering corresponding questions, it is important to gauge the impact that your answers are having on website traffic.
Though you can simply look for spikes in traffic corresponding to times when you’ve posted answers to questions, a better way to determine the effectiveness is with Google Analytics. With your site selected, navigate to the Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals.
This tab will give you an idea of where traffic to your site is originating. For a more granular look, you may consider building Urchin Tracking Modules (UTMs) using the Google Campaign URL Builder. UTMs are URLs that tell your website analytics program precisely where traffic originated.
After a few months of regularly answering questions on forum sites, you should have a good idea of the impact your forum activity is having on the traffic of your site. If you don’t see much more traffic, you may want to revisit your posting technique. Look for trends. Which of your answers provided the most traffic? Try replicating those practices in later answers. Overall, devise a forum answering schedule that you’re most likely to stick with.
Bonus Tip: Use forum sites for content ideas and keyword research.
Getting Content Topic Ideas From Forum Sites: As you scroll through questions to see if your content matches a query, you’ve probably noticed some pretty great questions that you had to pass over because your content didn’t fit. It may pay to jot these questions down and build great pieces of content answering them. When you’ve published the article that was inspired by the question, make sure to go back and answer it with your new piece of content. For authenticity clout, remember to mention that you were inspired to write the article by that particular question.
Using Forum Sites For Keyword Research: While you’re getting all of these great content ideas from user questions on forum sites, take note of what expressions they’re using in their questions. These are likely terms that other users with similar questions are typing into search engines. This is a unique look inside the mind of your target demographic. Make sure to work these keywords and key phrases into your content so your audience feels like you’re speaking their language. This also helps search engines know that you’re working to solve these people’s problems.