How to Use Question and Answers to Help Rank for Longer Words

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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When your eCommerce business is already in a competitive market, it can be difficult to nab a top spot in search engine rankings. In order to achieve greater visibility, some online store owners focus heavily on the use of long-tail keywords in the hopes of driving more targeted traffic to their site and increasing their ROI.

Even with the focus on long-tail keywords, many online merchants are still not using one highly effective way to connect to their target audience and increase their conversion rates. Used correctly, questions and answers (Q&A) sites can help locate and attract new customers, increase link building, and significantly improve a small business’s SEO.



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Question and answer-based information sites aren’t new. However, their recent rise in popularity has caught the attention of digital marketers who have figured out how to use them in some interesting ways. Not only are Q&A sites amazing resources for generating content ideas, but they are particularly useful for targeting long-tail keywords.

Online store owners can capture more long-tail keywords and phrases in a few different ways.  One such method is by simply scouring a Q&A site to find the specific phrases and keywords that people are searching for and building their websites which target these keywords.  Additionally, they can also contribute detailed answers to questions that are posed in their category that will also capture longer word searches.

While the focus may be on long-tail keywords, there are other benefits to using Q&A sites that boost your website’s SEO. From establishing your credibility to increasing the amount of niche products that you sell, here are just a few additional advantages to leveraging questions and answers sites:

Build Authority


build authority

Building your brand’s online authority plays a key role in improving your SEO strategy, and Q&A sites are an excellent way to achieve this. By providing high level answers that demonstrate your knowledge in a niche, customers will be more trusting of your business and, therefore, more likely to do business with you. Answering questions and engaging with your target audience also allows you to build relationships with potential buyers.

Sell Niche Items


sell niche

People who are using question and answer sites are asking questions that demand a solution in that exact moment. These are consumers who are ready to purchase the first product that is presented to them which will solve their problem. This product could be a specific niche item that your business sells, in which case you will want to craft an answer that is both helpful and which sells your product in a subtle way (more on this later). Rather than get tons of traffic by people who may or may not purchase your product, your site can amass traffic that can be converted into sales.

Help Generate Content



By seeing what consumers are searching for, you can get ideas and optimize your website’s pages based on the long-tail keywords and phrases that people are using. For example, if you are in the party favor business and need a blog post idea, you can search in your niche category on a Q&A site with this keyword or related phrase.

The results may show that someone is asking “What are good ideas for a 15-year-old’s party favors?” And there you have it—that is the title of your next blog post.

Conduct Consumer Research



The people on Q&A sites are asking questions with the purpose of solving a particular problem.  If you have the answer to their problems, then you should consider providing them with a high quality answer that establishes your authority and helps you sell your products. However, maybe you don’t have the answer to a question that is related to your niche. In this case, Q&A sites can be a research tool that helps you create the products that will be able to solve the consumer’s problem.

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When it comes to your long-tail keyword strategy, you will no doubt want to focus on the Q&A sites that will give you the best return-on-investment. While some sites such as Yahoo! Answers can be hit or miss, other big names such as Quora and Stack Exchange are pretty reliable, and have quality answers and questions. Here are just a few of the most popular question and answer sites:new

Quora:  Launched in 2010, this popular Q&A service was co-founded by two former Facebook employees and has a reputation for high-quality answers and questions. This most likely has to do with the fact that users must register with their actual names rather than a pseudonym. Quora is one of the largest sites for questions and answers with millions of users—some of which include influential people such as Steve Case (co-founder of AOL), Jimmy Wales (co-founder of Wikipedia), and Dustin Moskovitz (co-founder of Facebook).

Stack Exchange:  Modeled after Stack Overflow (a Q&A site for programmers), Stack Exchange is a network of questions and answers sites that cover a variety of topics—from mathematics to home improvement. According to its 2015 data, Stack Exchange has nearly 18 million registered users and continues to grow.

Yahoo! Answers:  Yahoo! Answers is a hugely popular site with over 300 million questions asked. Unlike Quora, it allows users to create avatars and use pseudonyms, which may contribute to the lower quality of questions and answers on the site. Because links are often deleted on Yahoo! Answers, it would probably not be worth your time to answer questions with your products. Instead, this site can be leveraged for content creation and to see what people are searching for.  According to quantcast, Answers is home to over 180 million members and has a staggering 18 billion answers. While Answers has many different categories and is a decent place for SEOs, Google’s Phantom 2 update in 2015 hit many websites hard—with Answers being one of them. The result was a pretty large drop in traffic, but the site is still a good Q&A that can help you improve your eCommerce SEO strategy.

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Now that you know the benefits to using Q&A sites and which ones are worth visiting, you may be wondering how to go about using them to your advantage. The following steps can be applied to the majority of Q&A sites to help you rank for longer keywords and boost targeted traffic to your eCommerce store:


Step One:  Answering Questions Actually Worth Your Time


Time is money, and online merchants certainly don’t want to waste their time answering questions that won’t give them a good ROI. Additionally, what questions you decide to answer can also have an impact on your authority. Because of this, you will want to choose wisely which questions you answer.

To do this, it is critical that you target questions that have the following traits:

  • The question has very few answers.
  • The question is relatively new.
  • The question has a high number of followers/views.

Step Two:  Providing Helpful Questions That Build Your Reputation


Many marketers underestimate what goes into giving people reputable and high quality answers and make the mistake of being too pushy with their sales. Remember, you are there to provide an answer that is helpful and which solves the user’s problem. The vast majority of Q&A sites have a voting system in which the best answers acquire more upvotes from users, while unhelpful answers receive downvotes. Thus, you will want to craft your response in a way that gets the most upvotes.

There are a few strategies for doing this. Occasionally, a user will ask a question that you have already written about in detail elsewhere, and you can simply provide a brief answer with a link to where you expand upon the subject. Other times, you will need to go into detail to provide a useful answer and insert a few links that are relevant to your answer. While this takes more time, it is still effective at building authority and boosting traffic to your online store.

You may also get the chance to answer a question that allows you to recommend your product directly to the consumer. However, most people tend to be distrustful of self-promoters who are sneaky about it. To build more trust in the Q&A community, you will want to be completely upfront with them about the product and point out that you own the company which sells this product. Simply put, the best approach to selling your products is to avoid the spam tactics and instead try to help the users on these sites.

Step Three: Measure Your Results


As an eCommerce store owner, you are no doubt familiar with the importance of tracking your performance. After you have answered a few questions (consider them a warm-up as you figure out what works and what doesn’t), you should begin tracking how much time you spend answering questions on Q&A sites, and monitor how much traffic and conversions you get from this through Google Analytics. Answer around 25 questions and give your answers a week or two to see what kind of results you get.

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Maybe you aren’t getting the traffic that you hoped for by utilizing Q&A sites. There are a few common reasons why this may be. Make sure that you aren’t performing the following mistakes:

Answering Simple Questions



These questions may be quick and easy to answer, but that is the exact reason why they won’t do you much good. In order to stand out, it is important that you use your expertise to provide a helpful answer that stands out from the crowd and gets you visibility.

Giving Confusing Answers



Your knowledge is valuable to users, but not if they can’t understand it. Avoid using any technical terms that others may not recognize. Some marketers think that this helps reinforce their credibility, but the goal isn’t to show off your smarts; it’s to provide a clear and helpful answer to your audience.

You’re Too Promotional


People tend to have a negative reaction to salespeople. This is because many consumers feel like there isn’t a concerted effort to solve their problem and, instead, they are having a product pushed on them that they won’t need. Avoid over-promoting your products, and be completely honest about the areas in which it can and can’t help consumers. By being upfront about its pros and cons, you will have a much easier time winning them over.



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Quora and other Q&A sites provide search marketers with a valuable opportunity to attract the right kind of traffic to their websites that results in higher conversion rates. By leveraging these sites to integrate long-tail phrases into their content, online merchants will no doubt see a greater ROI and boost their SEO in the process.




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