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Is Quora a Contender Against Google?

February 23rd, 2011 | | Advanced SEO Tips, Site Review & Analysis, Social Media & SEO

No. Don’t listen to people sensationalizing the next “Google Killer,” as quite frankly, there is no “killing” Google at this point. But that being said, Quora is a valuable resource for anybody looking to gain a little edge in terms of search engine rankings and traffic in general. Also, it is a great way to get your name out there and drive traffic to your site, as well as gain “street cred”—that is, online authority. And on top of these features, it is very difficult to spam Quora—there are several factors that keep Quora from becoming as spammified as Yahoo! Answers or other free Q & A sites, which could help to bring about a “qualified” crowd. So, in the following paragraphs, there will be a brief description of the what and the how of Quora, followed by a few reasons why you should look into investing time into Quora.

To start, for those of you who don’t know, Quora at it’s simplest is a question and answer social network. Comparisons to Yahoo! Answers and Answerbag are of course warranted, but Quora is much more. To start, it was co-founded by Adam D’Angelo, who was Facebook’s former CTO (yeah, that Facebook), so it has a very competent managing team. Another huge difference (and factor into Quora’s success) is that there is no anonymity as is much the case with the other often maligned answer networks. So, as a result of this transparency, you tend to see much more insightful and helpful answers (without the wild card factor of anonymity). Also, with Quora, there is an intricate ranking system that gives you a result to your question (or keywords/topics searched).  This ranking system is based on upvotes or downvotes, which are given by users much like Digg. The more votes the answer gets, the more prominently it will be displayed. But, unlike Digg, votes carry different weight depending on the user. Voters who have given good answers previously will have much more influence based on their up/downvote than other users, or users who have had issues with the site. So much like Google’s quality score, user history plays a role. And also, Quora does not allow for solicitation for votes, and any user reported doing this will be banned.

To move past the operating procedures of Quora, there is also the dynamic way in which Quora sorts it’s answers and information. When you sign up as a user, you can have Quora as part of your RSS feed, depending on topics of your choosing. Quora users bookmark certain issues (i.e. religion, Iraq War, 2012 elections, etc.) and sort questions/answers into these topics, and can alert you of new questions and answers. Or, you can simply search questions, topics, or people in the easy to user Quora interface. A good analogy would be a scaled-down, more human version of Google, a mini-Google. And the more upvotes a question/answer gets, the more likely it will be relevant to the keyword/topic you search.

And finally, the sheer amount of people who are “reputable” on Quora is amazing. Quora’s community consists of constant contributors from the Silicon Valley (and other tech luminaries) such as Marc Andreessen, Dustin Moskovitz, and Steve Case. Virtually all PPC/SEO bloggers or authorities have a Quora account as well, making this a valuable and reputable source of information pertinent to the industry of internet marketing. All this being said, it is safe to say that the upside of Quora is very large, but how do you use this for SEO?

In an attempt to keep from commercializing Quora, the administrators have blocked corporations from making accounts and have limited it to individuals with email accounts, as well as prohibited advertising of any type on the site. But, there are definite ways around this to garner more traffic, be it directly or indirectly. Directly speaking, Quora has been added to Google Social. So, having a presence on Quora and having a large amount of followers could lead to your posts being more prominent in search results. The more people who feel your web presence, the more that will listen to your answers or questions.  And because of this, slipping a name in one of your posts or promoting a company blog could lead to a traffic spike, or at least more name recognition. In addition, if you make it clear that you are affiliated with either a client or company, if you are in good standing with many users of Quora, you could see some traffic from those mentions as well.

Indirectly speaking, Quora is a good way to get your name out to a reputable pool of contributors. For instance, based on the niche of your industry (or the industry that you are advertising for a client), you can find what is being asked or what is a hot topic. The more you contribute to this topic type, be it through questions or answers, the more you will get your name out there as an authority on the topic. And the more you capitalize by posting on what is trending or being discussed, not only will you be kept up to date on the issues, but you will have valuable insight into the industry you are advertising for.

Quora is a free question and answer service that is worth a look. It may not be as high in traffic as Yahoo! Answers, but for what it lacks in traffic it gains in reputation and sheer upside. And, being integrated into Google Social is a huge step forward in terms of affecting you or your clients SEO. Take into account the strategies above, and you could see an upswing in either traffic, search rank, or both for free. And be sure to check back with SEO Boy as we keep you up to date on Quora and everything else SEO.

Bryan is an Assistant Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.

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