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Question and Answer networks are becoming increasing more popular, not only for people seeking answer, but more so for the people seeking to provide answers. Answering questions on these sites allow individuals to demonstrate their authority on a particular topic and promote themselves, their company, and their products or services in the right setting.
The question most people have when it comes to Q&A sites is which one is best? To help you decide the best network to choose, here’s a breakdown of three top Q&A networks in terms of statistics, features, and functionality.
Probably one of the most popular Q&A networks is Yahoo Answers, and with good reason.
Chances are, if you search Google for answers to questions, a post from Yahoo Answers has popped up in the results. This is one of the reasons that Yahoo Answers received around 56 million visits in May 2011 according to Compete.com. Yahoo Answers also has a Google PageRank of 8 and a SEOmoz Page Authority of 79 based on its backlink profile and likelihood that it will rank well in search results for a given topic.
To answer a question on Yahoo Answers, you must have a Yahoo account. Once you have signed into your Yahoo account, you can visit your Edit Preferences page to write a short description of yourself and change / update your avatar which will be used next to your questions and answers. To view your account’s activity details, visit My Activity.
Want to share a link on Yahoo Answers? Once you have a profile that has accrued 250 points (through setting up your profile, answering questions, and having your answers selected as a best answer) to be ranked a Level 2, you can add links to your answers as reference in the What’s your source? box of your answers. You can read more about points and levels here.
Yahoo Answers’ policy on links is:
Yahoo! Answers is a place to gain knowledge, not customers, page views, or dates. If you have years of experience in something, have a special hobby, own your own business, or if you are a knowledge partner, it’s OK to accompany a good, on-topic answer with a link to your website, blog, or email to offer more information. However, it is not OK to post links that are unrelated to the topic or are clearly meant only to solicit others for personal and financial gain.
Hence, try not to make it look like spam. If you are trying to promote a company’s product or service, don’t include a link to the product or service. Include an informative article off of your company blog that will casually call the reader to action to your product or service instead!
The overall atmosphere of Yahoo Answers seems to be more personal than professional, and depending on the subject you are interested in, the questions and answers can be a mixture of serious to crude & immature. From a business perspective, the network is probably more of Business to Consumer (B2C) than Business to Business (B2B).
Probably one of the best features on Yahoo Answers is the ability to save custom searches using the Advanced Search option.
Lets say you are a designer looking to answer design related questions. You can search for design related keywords, set it to only find questions that are open in a particular category, and save that search. Then you will receive an email once a day when there are new questions within the search parameters you set. You can set your email preferences here.
Relatively new on the Q&A network scene is Quora, but don’t let their new-ness fool you. They have built quite a community since their public launch in 2010.
Quora had an estimated 254,000+ visitors in May 2011 according to Compete.com. Their Google PageRank is 6 and their SEOmoz Page Authority is 88. Although they do not come up in Google’s main search results as often as Yahoo Answers, they were included in Google’s real-time search results (notably missing at the time of this article) and are included in Google’s Discussions results. People have to be logged in to their Quora account to see full answers to questions.
To answer questions on Quora, you need to create an account on their site using a standard sign up or by connecting with your Facebook or Twitter account. Once signed in, you can visit your profile by clicking on your name in the upper right hand menu. From here, you can add a brief bio including some links to your website below your profile photo. Your profile will also show your most recently activity details.
You can also add your favorite topics to your profile by clicking on the Follow Topic button on any topic you are browsing. When you follow the topic, you can then go back to your profile, View All Topics, and add a brief description as to why you are interested in or are an expert on this topic. This description will popup next to your name when you answer questions within that topic.
Quora allows you to add relevant links to your answers. Their policy on links is:
Should I add links to references and source material in Quora answers? Yes you should. The Quora norm is to provide references/sourcing wherever appropriate, so that readers can look to see where your answer derives from.
The norm right now is to paste the URL link(s) where you found material that supports your answer. Quora will shrink the URL so that it doesn’t crowd the space.
You can insert the link directly into your answer or include it as a footnote as described here.
The audience on Quora is much more professional than on Yahoo Answers. As a business, you can find questions to answer for both B2C and B2B.
One of the best features by far on Quora compared to Yahoo Answers is the more robust profile and the ability to be followed by your fans. Quora is essentially a network that advocates promoting yourself and your experience in relation to the topics you contribute to. You can see what I mean by visiting my profile as an example.
LinkedIn is best known as THE social network for professionals, and as such LinkedIn Answers is the perfect Q&A network for professionals as well.
LinkedIn, as a whole, received over 19 million visitors in May 2011 according to Compete.com. Their site has a Google PageRank of 9 and a SEOmoz Page Authority of 95 which beats both Yahoo Answers and Quora! LinkedIn Answers does not show up often in Google search, and people have to be logged in to their LinkedIn account to see full answers to questions.
In order to participate in LinkedIn Answers, you will need to signup for a LinkedIn account. It is in your best interest to fully complete your professional profile, especially the summary, current job title, links to your website, connection to your Twitter account, and adding the WordPress app to pull in your latest blog posts.
LinkedIn users can answer 50 questions in a 24 hour period if they have connections on their profile, but only 5 in 24 hours if they have no connections. They can only ask 10 questions each month, but only if they have more than 5 connections.
LinkedIn frowns upon spammy links in their answers to the point that you can report individual answers as an advertisement, connection building spam, gaming the expertise points, inappropriate, or misrepresentation. Needless to say, they take it seriously, so be sure your link is relevant to the answer and nothing that can be deemed as spammy.
As mentioned previously, the audience within LinkedIn is almost purely professional and best suited for both B2C and B2B interactions for businesses.
Want to become an expert in your industry? Become one within LinkedIn answers by answering the most questions within your topic. Don’t just answer them though – answer them well and you can be voted as the best answer which will also boost your chances at being on the Answers page on a particular topic as an expert.
Learn more about how you can earn expertise points here.
Looking for something a bit more on the technical side? Then Stack Overflow, a Q&A network for programmers, is just the place for you!
Even if you haven’t heard of this network, you have nothing to worry about as the site received over 854,000 visitors in May 2011 and does come with some great authority. It currently holds a Google PageRank of 6, SEOmoz Domain authority of 84.
You don’t have to create an account on Stack Overflow to participate in asking or answering questions. You can simply fill in your name, email address, and website address and have your questions and answers linked to your Gravatar image. If you do want to create an account, you can do so by logging in with your Yahoo, Google, or other OpenID accounts.
The form for questions and answers includes a link button that you can use to add relevant links to your submission. While there is not a specific link policy, they do seem to frown upon anything that might look spammy.
May I promote products or websites I am affiliated with here?
Be careful, because the community frowns on overt self-promotion and tends to vote it down and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, so be it. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.
If a huge percentage of your posts include a mention of your product or website, you’re probably here for the wrong reasons. Our advertising rates are quite reasonable; contact our ad sales team for details. We also offer free community promotion ads for open source projects and non-profit organizations.
The audience is intermediate to advanced professionals and programmers who post questions and answers related to technical topics including programming languages such as C#, Java, PHP, and others as well as development for iPhone, Android, Windows, databases, and more. See all of the popular topics here.
Registered users can vote up questions and answers they feel are helpful, that way when you are scanning a particular question, you’ll get to see the answer that was most valuable.
This is especially useful in a community where a bad technical answer can create some major havoc with your website or application.
So those are my favorite places for questions and answers. Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite Q&A networks and the advantages to using them?
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Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast who also enjoys photography, tennis, and salsa dancing.
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