Q&A continues to be a popular subject in the Social Media and SEO world. Business.com recently released a study showing that almost half of all businesses that participate in social media, ask questions on Q&A sites.
The Business.com study is an interesting look at a subject that has been under the radar for some time now. It’s very limited in scope, in that it covers only a handful of large destination sites rather than including niches sites. But what I found most lacking, is that they fail to adequately look at businesses that have Q&A sites (rather than participate in other sites), even though business.com has a Q&A site and mention it’s value.
There is growing acceptance that Q&A is both a great way to get SEO, but also a good way to build reputation. Gil Reich of Answers.com posted an interesting look at this on SEOmoz recently. He points out that people who fill out their profiles and contribute to Q&A can build solid reputations based on the quality of their answers. Nice post, not surprising.
Personally, I find these large generic Q&A sites less interesting than niche sites precisely because they are large and generic. Sites that focus on a specific community and/or subject have a much better sense of community and at least on the face of it seem a more worthwhile place to build a reputation. They can do this, in most cases, without sacrificing SEO. In fact they can outperform the generic sites because of their specificity.
At the SEOMoz Q&A you find yourself among SEO experts, at StackOverflow (despite it’s size) you are clearly in a world of coders, on Questionland at The Stranger you can discuss any subject, but the slant is alt-liberal with a distinct culture of it’s own. If you are a practitioner in one of these areas or see yourself as part of the community, then this is a great extension of that community. These people actually get to know one another, and even arrange occasional meet-ups.
Having said that, Answers.com is not only one of the better sites of its kind, and what it lacks in personality and focus it makes up for in size and speed of answers. Quora is trying to bridge the gap by creating a large destination based on niches. They are off to a good start, but I think at the end of the day people will prefer their village to a global village.
It’s great that Business.com has been one of the early analysts to see the value of Q&A and I’m looking forward to seeing them take it further.