Are you looking for info on how to build a content strategy that is more meaningful and effective?
Do you need a single vision helping you unite your whole team around one common goal?
Then here’s an idea for you: build your whole content strategy around answering niche questions.
Why Research and Optimize for Questions?
The reason why I actively advocate focusing on question research is that it has so much to do with all areas of marketing and beyond, it can literally get your whole company working together.
Answering questions can help you improve the efficiency of all your departments, for example:
Discover Niche Gaps
What are your target customers asking that there’s currently no good answer to? Is there a possible gap here that your future or current product can solve the way no one else can.
Giving your customers what they need and struggle the way can put your far ahead of your competition, turn your business into an innovator and the leader!
Further on, those questions can be used in a product page copy to achieve higher rankings and conversions.
Improve Your Sales and Customer Team Efficiency
Are there any frequent questions your team members have to address over and over again? Imagine how much time they could save if they had a well-organized library of pre-written answers they could point your customers to.
Building that database may take time and effort but it is well worth it and serves many more goals. You can re-focus your whole site into a Question-and-Answer database enabling your sales team to access useful content the second they need it.
Make Social Media Lead Generation Much Easier
Too often there’s a discrepancy between those producing content and organizational teams who are trying to leverage it.
The resulting problem is two-fold:
- Sales representatives lack the right and up-to-date content they can use to effectively engage with prospects
- Content creators lack sales reps’ insight which would enable them to create content that addresses real struggles of their target audience.
Imagine if your sales, SEO and social media teams work together with your content team to ensure your sales enablement content is always there for them to close deals and convert prospects into leads.
Learning how to build a content strategy in this way will help you overcome organizational silos and provide quick answers to all kinds of questions your prospects may need answered before they go down the sales funnel.
Turn Your Website into THE Destination
One of the best ways to keep customers coming back to your site is to provide them with answers. It is also the most effective way to generate organic shares and links.
This brings brand loyalty which results in more returning customers, positive reviews and higher conversions.
Make Your Site More SEO Friendly
Google is turning into an answer engine and it will favor web pages that give those answers. If Google’s algorithm finds useful answers on a web page, it would feature it in search and provide it in response to a voice search query.
Providing concise and useful answers is the foundation of featured snippet and voice search optimization.
How to Research Niche Questions?
One tool is not enough here. Given the multipurposeness of this content strategy, your sources should be as diverse as possible. Here are a few powerful options:
Answer the Public
Answer the Public is a freemium tool that extracts questions from Google Suggest results. You can download the results as a mindmap or as an Excel spreadsheet.
Text Optimizer is the semantic analysis tool that extracts related concepts, entities and questions right from Google and Bing search results. It will also rank the questions based on how popular they are and how many websites are currently giving the answers to those questions.
BuzzSumo is a multi-feature tool that has its own database of Q&A sites to find questions around your target query as well as concepts that are closely related to your target query.
Featured Snippet Tool
IMN’s Featured Snippet Tool collects your site’s important queries and grabs questions that appear inside “People Also Ask” boxes showing up for those queries. You can also see a URL that is currently listed as the one giving the best answer to each question.
Twitter supports a question operator helping you to monitor what your target customers are asking in real time. It’s a great opportunity for your social media reps to go ahead and answer right away, turning those prospects into leads.
How to Collect, Organize and Publicize Those Questions?
Collect and Organize Answers
Now with so much data to deal with, how to better organize the questions to use them for your content editorial calendar and beyond.
To keep things simple, I suggest creating a mastermind spreadsheet where you can record questions that you find relevant to your business:
Depending on your content development and optimization processes, your labels may slightly differ. The ones I am using are:
- My site current rankings for each specific question (if any). If my site currently ranks high enough for any of the questions, I may not need new content. It may be a simple edit to better format the question.
- Further action. Based on the above, this label may be extra but I use it to be able to prioritize the data by sorting the table.
- Any type of content upgrades this question may be part of (for example, it may make sense to make a question part of an eBook or discuss it at a webinar). It may also be a good idea to add a separate label of the future blog format each question requires. Some questions are best answered with a listicle, others may need a how-to article detailing materials and steps, etc.
- Rough ETA (again, helps prioritize the list).
I also keep record of future “Article sections”: These are questions that are not broad enough to require a standalone article to answer.
It is also a good idea to share this spreadsheet with multiple departments for them to be able to make comments, add questions they receive from your customers, and execute on questions that they find relevant to their tasks.
If you find your niche rich in closely related questions, it may be a good idea to set up a standalone knowledge base on your site to cover those there.
Optimize Your Answers for Google
Obviously, a big part of the whole strategy is to improve your site organic visibility, so make sure your answers are well-optimized for Google’s featured snippets. Because Google’s featured snippets are being read out loud by a device on response to a voice query, optimizing for featured snippets means optimizing for voice search.
My own experience with featured snippets has led me to thinking that Google prefers to feature one-paragraph answers, that is your answer should fit within one or two sentences.
The study by A.J. Ghergich conforms the point claiming that the average length of a featured snippet snippet is 45 words (the longest paragraph snippet he was able to find was 97 words).
I don’t mean to say that your articles should be short. In fact, Google and users love long-form content. So make sure your articles are long and in-depth, especially when you have a lot to say.
To adjust your content style to Google’s featured snippet algorithm, follow these guidelines:
- Ask the identified question in your article in the form of a h3/h2 subheading
- Immediately follow the subheading with a one-paragraph answer. Keep it concise and factual
- Elaborate further down in the article covering more specific questions, defining mentioned concepts, etc.
This content marketing tactic is likely also result in better on-page engagement because it makes your content better structured and thus a much easier read.
Broadcast Questions on Social Media
Your content strategy doesn’t stop at your own site. Your other brand-owned channels should work in an alignment with your site. Asking questions on social media can boost your social media engagement because human beings naturally get curious when they read a question and hence willing to make a pause and engage.
Content Cal is the social media solution that is able to unite multiple teams within one handy dashboard allowing your content team to create social media shares containing questions they are covering on-site.
[Once social media updates are added by your content team, your social media manager can go ahead and schedule it to go live on a suggested channel. This ensures consistent style and quality of your social media updates]
Encourage your content creation team to create social media updates using ContentCal. This will also let them see an immediate response to their topic and allow them to create content resonating with the audience. They can also test their content ideas by monitoring immediate feedback from your brand’s social media channels.
Conclusion on How to Build a Content Strategy Utilizing Q&A
Learning how to build a content strategy that is Q&A-focused can accomplish so much more, beyond higher organic search visibility. It builds brand loyalty, improves on-page engagement and conversions, unites your team by fostering information sharing, etc. It takes time to build up, but it is well worth the effort.