Answering questions for your target audience builds credibility. Q&A content has several viable distribution channels, which can help drive traffic and sales.
Why it's a good idea
Think about the different types of Q&A content an average user comes across daily:
- Tweets asking for best xyz or recommendations for xyz
- YouTube tutorials and how-tos
- Quora answers in response to Google search queries
- StackOverflow (insert witty developer joke here)
- Reddit threads about best, comparison, or problem/solution
It’s not just about the person asking the question; it’s about all of the people who read the answers. Most social media sites have recirculation mechanisms in place that amplify content (either questions or answers) to followers.
Even better, great answers have an uncanny ability to get referenced in future questions, multiplying the potential reach and distribution exponentially.
It would be difficult to overstate the impact of Q&A on the buying process. A substantial portion of buyers will rely on Q&A content for multiple steps in purchasing decisions.
By identifying the questions your target audience is asking, you can provide answers, gain trust, demonstrate value, and earn distribution. The best examples provide sustained, long-term traffic and sales and significantly expand a product or service’s search visibility.
The general strategy is to do customer research and figure out what questions your target audience is asking, and provide answers for them.
Once you’ve created the content, you can focus on the distribution.
Distribution has three options:
- Self-hosted (owned): Q&A section or blog on your site
- Third-party hosted: such as Quora or Reddit
- Syndicated content: YouTube, Wikipedia, Social
We recommend that you do all of the above. Successful examples that we’ve seen leverage a variety of channels, as targeted prospects likely leverage a variety of channels and formats in their research process.
Google Rich Snippets
The first step of creating your in-house Q&A library is to incorporate Q&A structured data markup:
Q&A | Search for Developers
This helps enable these results:
Quora is the largest and most popular repository of question and answer format content. The good news for marketers is that Quora can be an outstanding asset for research and distribution.
Each answer shows how many views and upvotes it has received. You’ll see something like:
373 views – View 1 Upvoter
Profiles that provide answers all have aggregate metrics to show, which appear beneath their name and avatar and might look like this:
Author has 197 answers and 4.9M answer views
It’s not uncommon to find profiles with millions of views or answers that receive tens of thousands of views per month.
Quora can provide significant distribution and should be considered as a third party content outlet — it ranks well and has relatively good organic discovery mechanisms that drive visits into questions and highlight community-supported answers.
In our experience, Quora is a solid campaign to run as a complementary platform target alongside an in-house owned Q&A section. The core benefit of doing both is that Quora can rank almost instantly and can help you earn multiple slots on the first page for valuable queries.
Pro tip: Quora will give you estimated weekly views of questions if you go through the motions of setting up an ad campaign. You don’t have to submit the campaign or pay anything; just go through setting one up, and once you reach the targeting options, you’ll get a list of questions that match your topic and their volume.
If any of your potential queries show a Wikipedia result on Google, you can determine potential traffic levels by using Wikishark. Here’s the result for the Coronavirus Page:
You can run a SERP analysis tool (such as Ahrefs) on the Wiki page and find other keywords that it ranks for to flesh out a full list of keywords that make up the reported traffic.
Next, you’ll need to figure out something to add to the article. If you can do this successfully (be forewarned that many cannot), you can get a citation in the article, which will provide a small stream of traffic over time.
Higher volume questions will likely be more challenging to compete on with SEO and more expensive to advertise on for SEM. Most products and services will need strong content recirculation or retargeting funnels to achieve an ROI on these questions. That said, if you’re operating a very strong, authoritative site, you’re probably fine beginning here.
For most other properties, lower volume questions may present an excellent way to kick off the program, as they’re likely far less competitive and could be more specific, which allows you to answer the query better and potentially convert a higher percentage overall.
Tech and Tools
There are a bunch of great resources for determining what questions people are asking and at what volume.
Answer the public
Google’s People Also Ask serp feature:
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I'm a developer, marketer, and writer based in Appleton, Wisconsin.