I’ve developed a strong liking for Q&A sites (Yahoo Answers, Quora, LinkedIn Answers, Stack Overflow etc). No matter which niche you belong to, you can always leverage these online platforms to fulfill a wide variety of goals. If you can differentiate between top quality and poor quality Q&A websites, you can quickly exploit this phenomenon to expand the online reach of your brand, blog or company website.

Here’s why you should start using them right away.

#1. Build a Diverse Backlink Profile
Though Google’s last year’s Panda update hit many Q&A websites, there are several others that are still going quite strong. This is simply because these sites run around an excellent concept – answer, ask and discover. If you’re looking to build a diverse backlinks profile (yes, diversity is an important factor in link building), you can never ignore the potential that such sites offer. More importantly, the backlinks that you generate by using Q&A websites will be natural. So, that’s a great SEO benefit that you can leverage.

#2. Get Targeted Traffic (= Higher Conversion)
Apart from link build the natural way, Q&A websites can also bring a lot of targeted traffic. Millions of people log on to these sites to find solutions to their specific problems. Depending on the niche you cater to, you can leave detailed (and highly useful) answers to their questions along with placing a link to your blog or website. In this way, you can drive a good amount of targeted traffic, which definitely means higher conversions as well.

#3. Use Them for Keyword Research
One of the biggest reasons for which you should use Q&A websites is that they provide you a useful insight into users’ search behavior and trends. Question queries (long tail keywords) have high search volumes. In many cases, the search volume of question queries is higher than generic primary keywords belonging to the same topic. If you’re conducting a keyword research for your blog or website, Q&A sites can provide you with excellent ideas.

#4. Connect with Industry Experts
Great answers come from experts or influential people. You can easily find a lot of industry experts by locating insightful answers to questions that relate to your niche. An excellent idea would be to approach them for getting permission on including their insights on your blog. And if you include a link pointing back to their own blog with the answers that you publish, you’ve all the chances to build good relationships in the industry (as well as have the favors returned in some way or the other).

#5.  Know about the Competition (Competitive Intelligence)
If you’re in a business, you always need to keep abreast of what your competition is doing. Q&A sites can be efficiently used to conduct competitive research. All you need to do is search for questions related to your competitors’ brands, services, products etc. Evaluating answers to such questions can really prove to be an eye-opener.

Do you use Q&A websites? Please feel free to talk about your own experiences, thoughts and views.