Social Q&A software is still the best kept secret in search engine, content, and brand marketing. I've been an advocate for social Q&A software ever since I learned of their existence years ago. This addition to your public website builds white hat (internal) links, provides a better vehicle for communication with your audience/customers, and keeps content fresh. All three of these things will give you a thumbs up from Google, and if you don't believe that social Q&A software works, look no further than Quora or Yahoo! Answers.
Search Engine Optimization
If we can agree that a combination of SEO Moz and Google Analytics is the best way to valuate a website then consider the following. SEO Moz ranks websites based off of internal links as well as external links. Google, on the other hand, wants to see constant and continuous content and conversations between you and your visitors. Social Q&A software accomplishes both of these tasks and displays the content in a visually appealing manner and in such a way that spiders can easily crawl the content.
Beyond your own SEO, you add value to your Q&A contributors because they can provide links to their questions and answers linking back to their site which adds a boost to their own SEO. While this doesn't seem too great for you, it'll help with community relations and gives added value to your visitors, helping to get more folks using your system.
I recently talked about HubSpot and their ability to improve SEO with content, however social Q&A software holds a different place in your content marketing strategy. First and foremost, a FAQ is a stale page that displays what you perceive to be the most asked questions, and not what the actual questions are from your customers. Secondly, with your social Q&A you'll be doubling down on keywords in a form that Google approves of and gives you shorter, more easily shared content that can spark Twitter conversations.
Branding with a Social Q&A
Every brand manager worth their salt will tell you that control is pivotal. This is also the most difficult task within the branding landscape because of social media. I've always said that if you have the brand equity, you should just start your own social network for your community to live within. However, if you don't have the brand equity for that or don't want to spend the time and money on extra development, a social Q&A is second best. You'll be able to moderate what is said; controlling the conversation. What's more is that you can dictate what appears at the top of the list, giving you ultimate control while also communicating with your visitors.
The Do's and Don'ts
- Seed questions and answers on your own accord (it's best to use different computers and IP addresses so that Google thinks it's natural traffic).
- Hack the voting system (up votes and down votes) to vote up questions or answers that are important to your initiatives.
- 'Approve' the best answer of a question so your community knows that's the answer they should follow.
- Tweet important questions to influencers in your industry, asking for their answer/input. (We all want to feel important)
- Only up vote questions and answers. You want this to be a real community and real communities dislike things.
- Treat this like a blog. You want these questions to be as short as possible. If someone posts a long-winded question, take the opportunity to write a blog about the question providing an answer, and let the person know you did so. (They'll love you for this)
- Allow this to get stale. Even if your community isn't asking and answering questions, do so yourself. It's important for SEO and branding to keep the questions and answers rolling in.
- Delete questions just because they are negative, rather turn them into a positive with the answer and use this to your advantage both with social media and your site visitors.
To build Your Own or use SaaS Model
The SaaS model is great for speed and support. This could very well save you lots of time and money however it also takes away your control and control is important. Beyond control, you also want your pages to load as fast as possible and the SaaS models use iFrames which can slow down your load time. When someone is on your social Q&A page, they should feel like they're still on your website and I mean this in every sense of the word. Spend your time with design and layout so your Q&A page not only looks like the rest of your site, but that the rest of your site has aspects of your social Q&A. Here are some ideas:
- Ask a question popup or sidebar
- Recently asked questions on your sidebar
- Prompt a user to ask a question while on pages like:
- Search Q&A on your footer
Now you have all the reasons to bring this idea up with your boss as well as implementation ideas for your team. You can always drop me a note on LinkedIn /Twitter or comment here below and I'll happily help in any way I can.
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