300 million active monthly users. Engagement with the world’s top thought leaders. Growth that could surpass Twitter and Reddit. Those are the claims Quora put forth to advertisers when it launched new targeting options earlier this year. If they’re right, then Quora must be fertile ground for SEO activity – right?
In reality, the intersection of Quora and SEO is a complex (and often controversial) topic.
What is Quora, and Why Is It So Popular?
Quora isn’t the first question-and-answer site out there, but it might just be the last.
That is to say that Quora has so far managed to succeed in areas where similar sites have failed.
Yahoo Answers, one of the first major Q&A sites, was massively popular but poorly-moderated in terms of questions and answers alike. It never came close to a reputable source of information and was often the subject of ridicule.
Google Answers surpassed Yahoo Answers in the quality of its content, but it failed to strike a chord with internet users at large; and like many Google products (see: Google+), Google Answers was closed due to ailing popularity.
The respective downfalls of Yahoo Answers and Google Answers illustrate the challenge of managing an informational site built on user-submitted content. To grow, the site must continuously attract more users who are willing to submit questions and answers; however, there’s a delicate balance between encouraging user participation and maintaining quality standards.
Set the bar for quality too high and few people will participate; set it too low and the site will attract poor-quality content, spam and trolls.
To date, Quora has managed to strike this balance through a combination of a quality-ranking algorithm and human moderators who monitor the feeds. Quora was originally moderated by volunteers from its user community, but the company has since switched to paid moderators and content reviewers who remove questions and answers as needed.
It’s easy to contribute to, but it’s not a free-for-all, either. This balance has been vital to the site’s popularity so far. Quora has even garnered attention from world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama.
What is the Value of Quora for SEO?
Another key to Quora’s success is its powerful presence on Google’s search engine results page.
Google’s RankBrain algorithm strives to deliver the highest-quality answers relevant to searchers’ queries. Quora’s upvote-driven Q&A format, which favours the most precise and comprehensive answers to specific questions, is practically tailor-made for it.
These days, whenever you make a search query in the form of a question, there’s a high likelihood of finding Quora on the first page of the results.
This trend has motivated people, brands and SEOs to try and leverage Quora to drive site traffic.
But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Using Quora for SEO is not as simple as plopping links into questions and answers – and in fact, that’s a good way to get banned from Quora for life.
Ways to Use Quora for SEO
Here’s the truth: Quora’s prominence on page 1 of Google’s search engine results has made it a magnet for SEO-related spam.
Pictured: A person using Quora just for the purpose of link building.
By that we mean users posting low-quality answers solely for the purpose of driving traffic to their (or their client’s) site.
Spammers aside, there are legitimately useful and effective ways to leverage Quora’s popularity and SERP presence to your advantage.
1. Answer Questions to Drive Qualified Traffic to Your Site
All external links placed by Quora users are no-follow links. This means that if you post a link to your website on Quora, it doesn’t pass any authority onto your site.
In other words, Quora isn’t useful for backlinking.
However, when done properly, posting links to Quora can be a way to drive good, qualified traffic to your site. That’s because the questions people pose to Quora tend to be specific, with clear intent on the part of the questioner.
For example, the person asking “What are the best tennis shoes?” is likely to be interested in buying a pair of tennis shoes. The same goes for anyone who comes across the question in a Google search. If you happen to sell tennis shoes, these are exactly the people you want visiting your website – so it would be great if you could get a link on that page.
However, Quora is picky about how and when a question or answer can include external links.
- Helpful answers are clear and credible, and sincerely address the question asked. External links to sources can help demonstrate credibility when the answer depends on third-party facts and analysis rather than the poster’s personal experience.
- Answers containing external links must answer the question and summarize how the reference answers the question. They cannot just point users to the link for answers.
- Answers that drive traffic to external sites for promotional or commercial purposes and do not sufficiently answer the question are considered spam.
In sum, if a page on your site is a good source of information for a user’s question, it can be helpful and appropriate to include a link to that page in an answer. When the question is one that your ideal visitors are asking, it can be well worth your time to answer it.
2. Answer Questions to Build Credibility and Authority in Your Industry
One of the reasons why Quora has been popular among tech influencers is how it readily showcases users’ qualifications and achievements.
Right below each user’s name and portrait is their Quora credentials, intended as a way to show the world why your post is worth reading (and an implicit answer to the question, “Says who?”). It can include your education, location, life experience and other personal information. Well-known figures can even earn a verification checkmark next to their name.
This system makes Quora an excellent platform for personal and brand authority-building. It’s a fast and completely free way to publicly demonstrate expertise in your industry.
3. Use Quora to Optimize Your Site Content
Popular answers on Quora can tell you a lot about how to write great content.
The answers that rank best among users tend to be those that provide comprehensive, useful information in a way that’s easy to read and understand. When the question relates to your industry, it can give valuable clues about the information your customers are looking for and how they prefer to receive it.
Think about a question your customers or clients regularly ask. Has anyone asked and answered the question on Quora?
Does your website provide all the information contained in the top answer?
If not, that could indicate an area of your site that needs improvement.
4. Use Quora for Keyword Research
If someone is asking a question about your industry on Quora, chances are some of your customers are searching the same thing.
Quora is an excellent place to explore how people discuss your business in everyday, unfiltered language.
Questions and answers can reveal keywords and phrasing you might not have thought of yet. Plus, with a free Quora Ads account, you can see exactly how many views a question receives each week, which can help you decide if a particular keyword is worth pursuing.
5. Use Quora to Brainstorm Blog Topics
Not sure what to write about? Find an unanswered (or inadequately-answered) question that relates to your business and answer it in a comprehensive blog post.
Freshly-posted questions can be a goldmine for novel blog content ideas. The same goes for a new FAQ page, a customer knowledge base, or a glossary of industry terms.
Better yet, there are several ways find these topics without any work on your part. Add a subject or keyword to your Quora feed to have new questions delivered as they’re published. Or, follow another user who answers questions in your industry to get notified when they post – then, add your two cents.
Quora has been around for almost ten years, but it’s still fertile ground when it comes to growing your online reach and driving traffic to your website. There’s plenty of room for experimentation.