How to Drive Massive Traffic with Yahoo! Answers (The Social Networking Experiment)

Yahoo! AnswersThis is part three of The Social Networking Experiment series, where I’m going to examining wide variety of social networking sites, evaluate their ability to help you succeed with your muse or business, and show you how to use them effectively.  Click here to read the introduction post for The Social Networking Experiment and click here to see all posts related to The Social Networking Experiment.

When you think of social media and social networking as a means of gaining exposure for your website or business, you think of Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, etc.  How many of you think of Yahoo! Answers?  Not many, I would guess.  Part of this “social networking experiment” isn’t to just say “hey, use Facebook and Twitter,” but to also uncover and profile the websites that generally don’t come to mind.

If you’ve ever done a Google search for a question, you’ve probably seen a result linking to a Yahoo! Answers page.  If you’ve briefly looked through Yahoo! Answers, you may have thought, “wow, why are there so many people so anxious to answer questions for free?”  Little did you know, Yahoo! Answers is an excellent way to drive traffic, gain exposure, and build your brand.

Social Networking Experiment

Yahoo! Answers, according to this source, is the second most popular Q&A site in the US, trailing only Answers.com.  Given this massive popularity and the fact that this site thrives on social interaction (in a Q&A format), a light bulb should be going off in your head regarding the potential use of Yahoo! Answers in your blog/website/company’s social media strategy.

The Basics

Yahoo! Answers follows a fairly simple model that you’ll find on various websites across the internet.  Someone asks a question, many people answer it (or fail to answer it properly), and the answers are rated.  Generally, I don’t assign a lot of credibility to these answers when I come across them in my searches, but they’re a good starting point.  For example, if you wanted to know the best place to fish for Walleye (a delicious fish, might I add), someone may point you to the wrong lake in Canada (wrong in the sense that it’s not the “best”), but this might lead you to explore other, better lakes in Canada.

If you have a Yahoo! account, you can freely ask and answer questions.  To encourage this interaction, there is a points and levels system designed to ensure that the questions don’t outweigh the answers (see below).

Accumulating points allows you gain authority and move up predefined “levels” where you’ll be able to ask and answer more questions.

Driving Traffic with Yahoo! Answers

While it’s great to have your questions answered or to answer other people’s questions, you’re probably thinking, “okay, what’s in it for me?”  That’s not a great attitude to have about everything, but let’s face it, you’re going to need an incentive to join and participate in Yahoo! Answers beyond whatever emotional lift answering questions brings you.  Note: For the information below, be aware that the use of Yahoo! Answers is not a link-building exercise.  Any links you add to your profile or answers will be “nofollowed” (in other words, Google won’t give your website a bump in its rankings just for having your link on Yahoo! Answers).  The purpose of Yahoo! Answers is to drive traffic by answering questions within your niche.

Your Profile

First things first – this is a social networking type of website, so as you might expect, your profile is going to be a part of what you are going to get out of Yahoo! Answers.  Here’s a screen shot of my profile.  Note that I didn’t use my actual name (it’s my first initial and middle name), however I also debated just using my first name or even using  “My4HWW.”  It’s really up to you, and may not make much of a difference unless your consider your name as part of your branding strategy (which is why I considered using “My4HWW” and may still change it to that).

For your profile, I suggest keeping it short and to the point.  Highlight the main topic and benefit of your blog or company’s website, and include a call to action (e.g. “stop by” and “join the discussion”).  Tip:  Don’t include “http://” before your URL.  For some reason, doing this causes Yahoo! Answers to cut it off in profile preview (see below):

Finding Your “Authority Niche”

While a lot of other social networking sites are “niche blind” (in other words, you often participate without regard to your niche on sites like Facebook, StumbleUpon, Twitter, etc.), using Yahoo! Answers effectively is all about becoming an authority in your niche.

For purposes of this social networking “experiment,” I am trying to drive traffic to My4HWW.  Therefore, I would want to look for something related to the “make money online” niche or even something related to entrepreneurship or marketing.  Based on the categories I see, I might try to answer questions in the “small business” or “advertising and marketing” categories.

Most of us are busy and don’t always have the time to constantly check and see if a new question has been posted in a particular category.  Fortunately, Yahoo! Answers allows you to subscribe to an RSS feed of a particular category.  Once you’re on a category page, look on the right side (you may need to scroll down) for the RSS button (see below).

By subscribing, you’ll be able to see any new questions as they come in, in whatever RSS feed service you use.

If you can’t find a category that really fits your niche, Yahoo! Answers even allows you to subscribe to an RSS feed for a particular search.  If your niche is “blogging” but there is no blogging category, you can simply search for blogging and subscribe to the RSS feed for those results.

Finding Questions to Answer

This part is pretty easy to figure out on your own, but there are a couple tips I want to point out.

While you’re browsing your niche categories for questions to answer, you’ll probably be viewing the questions that were posted most recently, by default.  According to Yahoo! Answers, questions expire after 4 days, although the creator of the question can extend that period to 8 days.  I’m not sure where this rule does and does not apply, because I can currently see there are “open questions” that are much older than 8 days.  Anyway, if you sort by date and view questions that are about to expire with little or no answers, you can give your answer and have a pretty good shot at it being voted the “best answer.”  The main benefit to this is that you’ll get more points (and be able to answer more questions), however this may also give your answer a little bit more exposure.

The second tip involves sorting by either most popular or most answers (I’m not sure what the difference is between the two, so you can try both sorting techniques).  These are the questions that generate lots of interest, and consequently, there are a lot of people who view the question either to answer it or because they have a similar question.  On these questions, your answers will have the most visibility. I know it seems a bit counter-intuitive because you’re competing with lots of other answers, but you’ll still have more people who read your answer in addition to everyone else’s.

Answering Questions

This is going to be the “bread and butter” of driving traffic with Yahoo! Answers, so pay close attention to this section.  Because you’re answering questions in your “authority niche,” you need to make sure your answers are actually helpful and of high quality.  Short, low quality answers won’t help you as much.

There are two ways to drive traffic via answering questions:

1) People who like your answer may click your profile to read more about you. This is nice, but isn’t all that effective.  Most people will never read your profile, but it’s still worth setting up because it takes less than 5 minutes and could capture some traffic.

2) Your answers can contain links to your blog or website. Let me first preface this by saying you should absolutely never spam Yahoo! Answers with a link to your blog or website when is isn’t appropriate and relevant to the question at hand.  Here’s a quote from Yahoo! Answers FAQs:

Personal websites or email
The preferred method is to provide the information on your profile page. However when it is directly related to the answer you’re giving, sometimes it is helpful to include personal links or an email address in the answer. For example, you’re the proud owner of a couple of cats and run an informational web site about caring for cats. You answer a question about cat grooming and include a link to a page on your web site with detailed information on the topic, as well as your personal email address for people to contact you with more questions. If you host sponsored ads on your site, be careful about posting links to your site in every answer or you risk crossing over into spam territory, which is not allowed.

If you post your personal web site (including your MySpace page) and email in every answer whether or not they’re related to your answers, you could be in violation for solicitation or spam.

As you can see, there’s a definite line between providing help and spewing spam.  There are a couple ways you can strategically include your website’s URL in your answers, depending on how you’re answering the question.

First, you can simply do it within the answer itself, because it’s relevant to the question someone is asking.  Here’s an example of one that I did:

As you can see, I provided an answer that should have value to the person answering the question.  Likewise, I provided him or her a link to one of my articles.  Anyone who reads this question might be intrigued by my answer, and will hopefully click through to my blog.

However, you may not always have an article or anything else written that directly answers someone’s question, which might make it inappropriate to post within the body of your answer.  Fortunately, there’s another area of your answer that can drive traffic: the “Source” box. Here’s an example of mine:

[Note: My answer in the above screen shot is longer than what appears there (you'd need to scroll down to read the rest of it).]

As you can see, my answer didn’t call for posting a direct link to my blog, however in the “source” box, it was relevant to post my name and my blog as the “source” of the information.

Conclusion

If used appropriately, Yahoo! Answers can be an awesome way to drive targeted traffic to your website.  It’s also important to note that Q&A’s from Yahoo! Answers tend to rank very highly in Google, so if you regularly post answers to questions related to your niche, you can expect to see it drive traffic to your site long after the question is closed (due to people finding it through Google).

Furthermore, if you’re genuinely providing high quality answers, this can be a great way to make connections with other people, who could turn out to be future clients or people with whom you form alliances.  Social networking sites like Facebook and StumbleUpon are powerful in their own way, but don’t always allow you to showcase your value.  Yahoo! Answers, by its very nature, allows you to consistently promote yourself as someone of value – an authority within your niche.

Hopefully this article prompts you to add Yahoo! Answers to your social networking strategy.  I plan to use it more frequently, and I’m confident it will gradually become a significant source of traffic.  As always,  I welcome your feedback and comments.  If you have experience with Yahoo! Answers and have something to add to this article, please share it!

If you enjoyed this post, please support it by clicking the StumbleUpon “Submit” button at the top of this post or the Facebook “Like” button at the bottom.

Also (if you haven’t already), subscribe to the RSS feed so that you can have new posts delivered right to you. Thanks so much!

Points and Levels

To encourage participation and reward great answers, Yahoo! Answers has a system of points and levels. The number of points you get depends on the specific action you take. The points table below summarizes the point values for different actions. While you can’t use points to buy or redeem anything, they do allow everyone to recognize how active and helpful you’ve been. (And they give you another excuse to brag to your friends.)

Points Table

Action Points
Begin participating on Yahoo! Answers One Time: 100
Ask a question -5
Choose a best answer for your question 3
No Best Answer was selected by voters on your question Points Returned: 5
Answer a question 2
Deleting an answer -2
Log in to Yahoo! Answers Once daily: 1
Vote for an answer 1
Vote for No best answer 0
Have your answer selected as the best answer 10
Receive a “thumbs-up” rating on a best answer that you wrote (up to 50 thumbs-up are counted) 1 per “thumbs-up”
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18 Responses to “How to Drive Massive Traffic with Yahoo! Answers (The Social Networking Experiment)”

  1. Ahh finally a post I was looking forward to! It’s great to get post ideas from Yahoo! Answers as well. Have you tried this before? Looking at what people are asking and then writing a post about it, only then to post it on Yahoo Answers?

    How’s the eBook coming along? Have you decided on the subject?

    Would love to talk about your other muses,

    Cheers!

    Patrick

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Patrick, that’s a great idea. Talk about a way of getting super targeted traffic.

    As for the eBook, I haven’t started it yet, but it looks like (based on the poll) “My First Online Muse: The Road to Passive Income” is the one I’ll be writing first. Thanks for the comment!

    [Reply]

  2. Thanks for bringing this up. I totally agree with you on this, I’ve been using Yahoo answers for a year now, and it’s really a great way to generate instant traffic. You may not get loads of traffic, but the traffic that you get is SUPER TARGETED.

    Kind regards,

    Gary

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    That’s what I’m hoping for! Sometimes a little bit of super targeted traffic beats a larger amount of traffic that’s full of people who just stop by for 2 seconds and leave. Hopefully I’ll be able to give an update later about how well I’ve been able to drive traffic via Yahoo! Answers. Thanks for commenting, Gary.

    [Reply]

  3. I stopped using Yahoo Answers to gain traffic because even though I was producing good quality answers, I would get banned a lot because people would report me.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Yikes, sorry to hear that. I think I’ll try mixing in some answers where I don’t post any links, just so it doesn’t seem like I am ONLY trying to promote a website. Thanks for the heads up, Dean.

    [Reply]

  4. Thanks for this useful article. I have a question: how to make a link on Yahoo! Answers? When I write a link, it’s a text. I can’t click on it, I need to copy & paste.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Marcin, thanks for the comment. You pointed out something that I didn’t mention – When you first start on Yahoo! Answers, any URLs you post won’t be hyperlinked. In other words, the URL will still display properly, but someone will need to copy and paste that URL into their browser to visit the site (which is fine, even though it’s an extra step). However, once you’ve answered enough questions and earned a sufficient amount of points to move up to Level 2 (you need to check and see how many points that is – I’m not sure), your URLs will show up hyperlinked.

    This is something they implemented so that people don’t create accounts for spam purposes. It encourages you to post useful answers, earn points, and eventually move up to the higher “levels” that they have structured. I think it’s a worthwhile experience to actually become a helpful member of that community, because it increases the likelihood that your account won’t be flagged for spam, and therefore your links will successfully bring your website traffic. Hope that helps.

    [Reply]

  5. Okay, thanks for the answer! I’m new to Yahoo! Answers so I just need to keep writing helpful answers.

    [Reply]

  6. This is a great idea; it never occurred to me to answer questions on Yahoo, on the contrary I wondered why someone would want to answer them.

    After reading your article last night, I decided to give it a try, and it is actually a lot of fun to answer some of those questions; what’s even more interesting is that some of those questions have given me ideas for future posts.

    The problem now will be finding the time to write those posts, answering is kind of addictive…

    Thanks for sharing this article!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Guille, thanks for the comment. I agree, it is pretty fun answering the questions, especially if they’re relevant to your niche. Like you said, they can inspire future blogs posts as well!

    [Reply]

  7. I have tried Yahoo Answers before and it does deliver a fair amount of traffic. However, I didn’t keep up with it long enough to see if it would help build my readership up.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment. That’s great to read that you were able to see some positive results. I’m still trying to work my way up to “Level 2″ so that my URLs will actually be hyperlinks on the site. Right now, I might be getting traffic from Yahoo, but I won’t be able to tell until the links are “active.”

    [Reply]

  8. I’ve never tried yahoo as a traffic source. I know when I use to be active on Google groups that resulted in a lot of traffic.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I’ve never tried posting on Google groups, but that definitely seems like a good way to get some traffic. Yahoo! Answers is great because you’re helping someone out, which creates a logical connection with them, causing them to want to see more from you (i.e. they’re more likely to visit your site or blog). Thanks for the comment, Rose!

    [Reply]

  9. Very nice guide! I will try some of the tips out myself.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Nik!

    [Reply]

  10. Excellent Article about Yahoo answer. I am getting good amount of traffic from yahoo answer. But here i learned some new points.

    Thank You.

    [Reply]

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