Opinions vary among SEO experts about whether adding links to question-and-answer sites is a valid link building tactic.
It depends on how you approach Q&A sites though, and how much you depend on these forums for driving traffic.
The thing is, people typically use long-tail queries to conduct searches now, and are asking questions rather than searching by generic keywords.
Asking a specific question usually returns more accurate and relevant results on SERPs.
This is where Q&A sites or forums come in.
Q&A sites are widely used platforms for people to discover new information on a variety of subjects. They act like search engines – returning results on a query – but the results could come from any member of the forum.
People are turning to sites like Quora and Stack Exchange to find answers to questions ranging anywhere from “Did anyone from your high school become famous?” to “Is adding my business link to local business directory/listing good or bad for SEO?”
4 Benefits of Using Q&A Sites
1. Diversify Your Link Profile
Using Q&A sites as a method of building links helps to diversify your link profile.
Although external links on Q&A sites are typically nofollow, these backlinks shouldn’t be discounted.
Be sure to use Q&A sites with relatively high Alexa rankings.
Take Quora, for example, which is ranked #233 in global internet engagement:
2. Drive Traffic to Your Site
Provide informative answers to community questions and include a link to relevant content on your site.
The key here is relevance.
If you continually add links to unrelated content, you’ll lose members’ trust and may be viewed as a spam account.
Keep in mind that you’re not required to include a link in your answers.
To maintain trust, if you don’t have a relevant link, don’t include a link at all.
You can also include a link to your website in your user profile.
Present yourself as an expert – or at least a trusted resource – so that when a member views your profile, they’ll be inclined to check your site.
3. Establish Credibility & Trust
Q&A sites were created to solve people’s problems – much like your product or service, which solves a customer’s problem too, right?
Answer questions and engage with topics in your niche market.
Build relationships and gain credibility by being honest and helpful.
Treat Q&A sites like community forums rather than marketing platforms.
Most Q&A sites allow members to rank profiles and answers, so it’s important to provide useful solutions and to authentically and respectfully engage with other members.
4. Improve SEO
As Q&A sites continue to grow and gain more authority, some questions and community conversations from these sites will appear on the first page of SERPs.
When you ask an engaging question – or provide a helpful answer – and it gets upvoted, you’re bringing traffic to that post on the Q&A site.
If you happen to include brand keywords and a link to your content, it can help boost your site’s overall authority and SEO.
3 Ways to Build Better Links with Q&A Sites
In the spirit of diversifying your link profile and improving SEO, here are three specific ways to build better links with Q&A sites:
1. Expand Keyword Research
Using keyword research tools is an excellent way to increase the chances of your content ranking on SERPs.
Adding Q&A sites to your keyword research toolbox can help you reach your audience through more specific keywords and phrases.
Look at the difference between the keywords and phrases that turn up when you search for “cortado vs flat white” on Google (with the Keywords Everywhere extension), and then in Quora:
Using these additional keywords and phrases, you can engage more effectively on Q&A sites and provide more relevant links back to your own content.
2. Develop a Content Strategy
Use popular searches from Q&A sites relevant to your brand’s keywords and phrases as a part of your overall content strategy.
You can utilize Q&A sites for content strategy in the same way you use them for keyword research.
Develop a content calendar based on search results, and then generate new content that answers specific questions found on Q&A sites.
Then, return to the forums to engage and answer questions using your new content links.
3. Discover Potential Collaborators
In addition to performing specific keyword research and developing unique content ideas, Q&A sites can also help you find potential collaborators or guest bloggers.
Stay updated on questions and conversations that are in your niche, and request notifications when there is new content related to your brand’s keywords and phrases.
Interact with members who deliver content similar to yours and develop relationships with potential collaborators.
Guest blogging and collaborating with partners are excellent ways to diversify your link profile and to earn potentially high-authority backlinks.
Popular Q&A Sites
As Q&A sites grow in popularity, you’ll most likely find new sites all the time.
Search for popular Q&A sites, or even for Q&A sites that are specific to your industry or niche.
Try a few out to determine which will be the most beneficial to your brand and your particular link building strategy.
Here are a few of the most popular Q&A sites out there, currently:
- Yahoo Answers
- Stack Exchange
Think Beyond SEO
When contributing to and engaging on Q&A sites, think beyond SEO.
You can do more with Q&A sites than build links and increase traffic.
Use Q&A sites to develop a more effective content strategy, increase brand awareness, build relationships with potential clients and collaborators, and establish your brand as an expert in your niche.
Timeframe: Start at month 6, and interact monthly after that
Results detected: 6-12 months
Average backlinks per month: 5-10, but this depends on the frequency of engagement
Tools: Q&A sites
Benefits of local citations:
- Diversify your link profile.
- Drive traffic to your site.
- Establish credibility and trust.
- Improve SEO.
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots taken by author, October 2019
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She’s earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.