In 2016, the customer journey is expected to become even more fractured as customers seek information from a variety of sources, during several brief browsing sessions. Google has even coined these mini browsing sessions “Micro-Moments.” In order to succeed, your business needs to have a presence during all of these sessions, across all mediums and devices.

One platform that doesn’t get a lot of attention is forums and discussion groups. While it’s important to not intrude on these user-focused groups, many clients can benefit from participating. I had a lot of success recently with building valuable links on Quora, Yahoo Answers, and LinkedIn for one of our clients that resulted in and continues to be a pretty healthy source of referral traffic for them. Below I will outline the basics of how to use each of these services to build links and the pros and cons of each. First, though, let’s cover some basic ground rules.

  • If you’re going to start building links on sites like these, begin by reviewing their community guidelines or TOS. The last thing you want to do is spend several hours answering questions and commenting only to have your account suspended and all your work removed.
  • Don’t be spammy. Give honest, real, on-topic answers and comments. The client I was doing work for provides a content marketing tool which I’d have real experience using for the past year, this gave validity to my answers. When you say, ‘I’d had a lot of success using this product/tool/service’, mean it.
  • This type of link building doesn’t work for every client. Obviously there are some clients/industries that are more conducive to this type of work.

Quora

Start by creating an account and setting up a basic user profile, it doesn’t have to be much. Then search for questions related to your client and start answering questions, including links where relevant.

As mentioned, the client I was doing work for provides a content marketing tool so I did a search for “content marketing tools” on Quora and some of the top questions included “What are the best tools to use for Content Marketing?”, “What are the best content marketing tools that are too good to be free?”, and “What are the best content marketing tools for 2015 in your opinion?”

Quora_Search_Bar

These types of questions were all perfect for me to answer with my personal experiences of using my client’s tool and naturally include links. The approximately 50 answers I added on Quora for this client have gotten 3,590 views since July, which has led to some great referrals for them.

Pros:

  • Very easy to get setup and going in.
  • You only have to answer questions relevant to your client.
  • No need to worry about a moody points system/algorithm (see Yahoo Answers). You can immediately include live links in your answers and anyone can see the answers you give right away.
  • They provide useful statistics including how many views each of your answers gets per questions.

Cons:

  • The lack of restrictions on new users opens the platform to a greater opportunity for spam and means there’re more people answering/competing on questions you target.

Yahoo Answers

Start by creating a Yahoo account and setting up a basic user profile, much like Quora. Then start answering questions that appeal to you but are quick and easy to answer. Try and answer 10 or so “regular” questions for every 1 answer you add for your client.

Keep this in mind, Yahoo Answers is governed by a system of levels and points. When you first create an account your profile starts at a level 1 with 100 points. Before you can begin answering questions that include live links in them, you need to build your profile up to at least a level 2. Even once your profile is at a level 2 though, your answers that contain live links won’t always show up. You need to get to at least a level 3 before all your answers, even those containing live links, show up on a consistent basis. These makes Yahoo Answers quite the endeavor one you might want to hire a part-time intern to help with or split among several of your clients.

Yahoo Answers has a system of points and levels, as pictured below:

Yahoo_Answers_Levels

You can gain more points with the following actions:

Yahoo_Answers_Points

Photos via https://answers.yahoo.com/info/scoring_system

Here’s an excerpt from Yahoo Answers Community Guidelines.

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, [or] own your own business… 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.

So make sure you offer honest, real, on-topic answers from your personal experience, much like I did while adding on-topic answers for our client.

Also, don’t just brashly answer a bunch of questions with links for your client right out of the get-go thinking it’ll take them a while to shut down your account. It only took them a few hours in my experience and once your account is suspended, your account and the answers you added aren’t coming back so be careful.

Pros:

  • Because their service takes so much work to get into, there’s potentially hundreds of questions out there that are perfect fits for an answer about your client that haven’t been touched yet.
  • Perhaps better quality (less spammy answers) than on Quora.
  • Potential for lots of referral traffic for your client.

Cons:

  • Big time commitment. You have to answer a lot of random questions to reach their set levels before you can even include live links in your answers.
  • Their point’s algorithm can be unpredictable at times. Sometimes your answers show up and sometimes they don’t.
  • Very temperamental, if your account gives suspended all the answers you’ve given are immediately removed and they won’t reactive it through their (nonexistent) appeals process.

LinkedIn

Start by logging into your LinkedIn profile, (if you can’t be personally tied/associated with the product you’re promoting LinkedIn is probably not the best place to build links for this client). Then search for LinkedIn groups that might be discussing or be interested in discussing a topic related to your client. Make sure to limit your search to just LinkedIn Groups. While working for our client, I searched for “content marketing” and found several 957 results.

LinkedIn_Search_Bar

Then perform searches in the Groups themselves for posts/discussions related to your client, in my case I searched for the word “tools” to find posts discussing content marketing tools like “The Big List of 200+ Content Marketing Tools” and “The Ultimate Content Marketing Tools List”. I then added comments to posts like these mentioning our client and adding links where relevant.

Also, LinkedIn’s Group Member Best Practices discourage self or business promotion so make sure your comments are real and on-topic and if you share a link “provide context on its relevance to the group”.

 Pros:

  • Great opportunity to comment openly about your client’s product and your personal experiences with using it.
  • Allows you to possibly meet and interact people who are great target customers for your clients.
  • Can help you identify other areas to target with you client.

Cons:

  • Not as big of an opportunity as Quora or Yahoo Answers. There’re fewer Groups and discussions on LinkedIn.
  • A personal LinkedIn profile is tied to every post or comment you add.

Conclusion

I hope these tips help you use sites like Quora, Yahoo Answers, and LinkedIn to get valuable links for your clients that bring in great referral traffic. As you engage with buyers at every point in their research process, you not only build valuable links, but you also build new customers.

Matt Casady
Online Marketing Specialist at Big Leap
Matt is an Online Marketing Specialist at Big Leap. He has a background in advertising and specializes in local search and media placements. In his free time he loves playing Ultimate Frisbee and building websites.