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How to Use Question and Answer Networks to Find Content Ideas, Build Authority, and Drive Traffic

Last week, I briefly mentioned question and answer networks in a post about RSS feeds that can help you discover great content ideas. Question and Answer networks are those that simply allow anyone to ask and answer questions about specific topics. They can be very valuable in more ways beyond just getting some new content…

Last week, I briefly mentioned question and answer networks in a post about RSS feeds that can help you discover great content ideas. Question and Answer networks are those that simply allow anyone to ask and answer questions about specific topics. They can be very valuable in more ways beyond just getting some new content topic ideas. In today’s post, we’re going to look at how participating on Q&A networks can help you find new content ideas, build authority in your industry, and drive traffic back to your website.

How Question and Answer Networks Help You Find Content Ideas

If you do nothing else with Q&A networks, at least keep them in mind when you hit that roadblock when it comes to new content topic ideas. One goal of any piece of content should be to solve a problem or answer a question. If one person asks a question about something, there’s a good chance that there may be more people who are looking for a similar answer. Knowing what people ask can help lead you to creating valuable content.

So how do you keep up with questions on Q&A networks? RSS feeds are one way. Some networks allow you to follow specific topics, so each time you log in you will see new questions from that topic. Or you can save bookmarks to your favorite topics in your browser for a rainy content idea day as reference.

How Question and Answer Networks Help You Build Authority

While you’re perusing a Q&A network for content ideas, you’ll likely see some questions that would be simple to answer. You should definitely go for it – answering questions is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge in a particular field of interest. Best of all, some Q&A networks will highlight the people with the most answers or best answers on a particular topic.

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This is a great way to put your name out there – people who frequent a particular topic often enough will begin to recognize you as an authority on that topic. This could lead to them viewing your profile, asking to connect with you, clicking through to your website, and becoming a potential lead for your business. It’s a win-win deal and best of all, you can get those kinds of results by spending ten minutes a day simply answering questions, especially on professional Q&A networks.

How Question and Answer Networks Help You Drive Traffic to Your Website

If you are creating content based on people’s questions and you want to build authority by answering questions on Q&A networks, then why not take advantage of an easy way to drive traffic back to your website by including a link to your content with your answer.

Keep in mind you don’t want to spam Q&A networks – just because someone asked how to build links to their website doesn’t give you lead to drop a link to your link building service. Your goal is to provide a valuable answer AND casually mention that you have written more about that subject, linking preferably to a blog post or article on your website. If that informative piece of content happens to end with a call to action to check out your link building services, that’s when you will be able to turn your answers into conversions.

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Another way that you might get traffic off of your answer is through search engines. Someone may enter a question into Google search and it will lead that person to the question you answered and your link for more information. So although the link you leave in the answer doesn’t give you any “link juice” it can still get your website link into the first page of search results. Indirect is often better than nothing after all.

Great Question and Answer Networks to Try

So what Q&A networks should you give a try? Here are some of the ones I have found most useful for finding content ideas, engaging with an active community, and getting traffic back to my own website.

  • LinkedIn Answers – If you’re a B2B business, then you’re best bet is to start here. Sharing informative, valuable answers can lead to more LinkedIn connections, request for services, and traffic back to your website if you are able to leave a link in the answers. Be sure to complete your profile, create a strong headline as that is shown next to your answers, and make your profile as public as possible so people can learn more about you if they click to your profile. Also remember that people who are voted as having the best answers are noted as that topic’s experts for the week.
  • Quora – Next on the list of professional Q&A networks is Quora. They cover a wider range of topics from A to Z. Again, be sure to complete your profile and create a great headline as that is shown next to your answers.
  • Focus – This is a newer professional Q&A network. At the time of writing this post, the site was down, but hopefully it will be back soon.
  • Yahoo Answers – This is by far one of the least professional Q&A networks you will encounter, but it can be good if you’re a B2C business.
  • Reddit – Reddit isn’t just social bookmarking. Some subreddits (areas about specific topics) are hotbeds for some Q&A interaction. Just be careful about plugging a link there unless it is 100% relevant otherwise you might get flamed.
  • Stack Overflow – If your expertise is in web development and programming, this is the Q&A network for you.
  • HubPages – If you’re still doing article marketing on the HubPages network, then don’t miss an opportunity to drive more traffic to your articles through their own Q&A section.
  • XperLink – This is an up and coming Q&A network, very similar to Focus as far as functionality goes.

There are also several other Q&A networks worth mentioning – I haven’t tried them out, but they could be good ones. These include Askville by Amazon, Wiki Answers, Answers, and Answer Bag.

Last, but not least, the original Q&A networks are forums. They are the place to go to get answers for questions – your goal is just sifting through forums with real people seeking real help vs. the forums that have been spammed to death.

Have you had luck with question and answer networks? Please share your experiences in the comments!

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