How to Research and Optimize Your Content for Questions
If you’re not optimizing your content for questions, you’re missing out on opportunities to engage customers and drive more traffic to your site.
Questions are valuable for many reasons:
- Question research is excellent content inspiration.
- Questions are engaging and trigger a natural reflex to answer.
- Questions are useful for audience research.
- Question research gives you a better understanding of natural language for voice search.
- Question optimization increases your organic search visibility.
Types of Questions and How to Categorize Them
- Basic questions: These typically define concepts, and those searching for them are looking for quick answers.
- How-to questions: These typically include step-by-step guides.
- Branded questions: These typically include a brand name or product name.
- Online research questions: These are typically specific questions that relate directly to your product, such as pros and cons or reviews. These include:
- High-intent questions, such as asking how to buy.
- Navigational questions about site navigation.
- Competitive research questions, such as brand comparisons.
- Reputation questions, such as concern your company culture.
People asking "basic" and "how to" questions may only be searching for information rather than having an intent to make a purchase. Knowing the searcher's intent is a "secret ingredient behind successful content development" according to Search Engine Land. You still want to answer "how to" questions because you can "pixel" or tag the searcher and market to them later when they are ready to purchase.
How to Discover Questions with Tools
“People Also Ask” Tool
The “People Also Ask” tool from Google contains related questions to a given query. While not a lot of information is available on how Google generates these, we can assume that these questions would only be shown if there are enough queries to justify them.
More space is taken up in the search engine results by the “People Also Ask” tool, and showing up in more search engine results with one query is a valuable aspect of organic search visibility.
The “People Also Ask” tool is important for content marketing for two reasons:
● It offers insight into the searches of the target audience.
● It boosts organic search visibility.
Google Search Engine Results Page
Search results provide a lot of information about terms and concepts from search engine results pages, if you analyze them properly. A Text Optimizer tool will extract terms and concepts from the search engine results pages and analyzes them to provide a list of questions to include in content. This tool will expand on the knowledge you gain from the “People Also Ask” tool.
Google Suggest is a search-based tool that’s designed for content marketers. Google autocompletes a query based on the most popular searches from other users. With this in mind, we can assume that Google Suggest results have a significant search volume or demand to end up in the suggested index.
The challenge with Google Suggest is deciding how to start the question to see it completed. First, you type your query in and hit search, then you pull your cursor back to the beginning of the query. If you add “how,” Google will suggest other popular searches.
You can take this a step further by using Serpstat, which is a keyword research tool that gives you niche questions according to your core question. You can also sort the results by the original question and filter questions by the most popular term to organize your results.
Quora is arguably one of the largest sources of questions online. Unlike some other discussion boards, however, Quora requires users to post discussions in a question form, so it only offers questions.
Quora’s search can be challenging, due to the complex architecture of topics, and it doesn’t show you the most popular questions. The algorithm works on personalization, timeliness, activity and some other factors.
With this in mind, the Buzzsumo Question Analyzer is useful to organize your Quora results. It aggregates results from Quora and other discussion boards to analyze your query and generate results, giving you in-depth insight into what searchers are looking for.
Though not many content marketers use Twitter for this purpose, it’s an incredible source of content inspiration. Twitter’s question search allows you to see what questions users ask when discussing your brand or product with the following search:
Type [brandname ?] (be sure to include a space) into the search box and you’ll see any questions related to your brand, product or topic.
This can also be used to monitor your competitors and get an idea of what your prospective customers are searching for from them, so you can position yourself to solve customers’ problems better.
How to Include Questions in Your Content
Questions provide a virtually limitless source of content marketing opportunities. Here’s how you can use questions to inform your content:
● Create a frequently asked questions section that addresses the basic questions that come up in queries often.
● Develop and optimize your existing content to address common questions.
● Add Q&A sections to your landing pages, which may also help you get a product page in Google.
● Develop new content to address a question that lacks satisfying answers.
The value of questions goes far beyond content, however. Question research should involve different departments in your company to maximize your results.
Basic questions do well with content like glossaries or FAQ. The customer support and sales teams should use this information to adopt the same language or jargon as the customers. The CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) team should be involved as well, since basic questions could be transactional.
How-to questions do well with content like FAQ and videos. Your CRO team should be involved, since these can lead to sales.
● ROPO (Research Online/Purchase Offline) questions: These should be addressed in the form of blog content or tutorials, which should be optimized for many related brand terms. The product management team should be involved to collect answers and feedback and to implement product improvements or updates.
● High-intent questions: These should be addressed in the form of a product Q&A. The CRO team and A/B testing expert should be involved to optimize on-page conversions.
● Navigational questions: These should be addressed with a product-specific knowledge base and video tutorials. The design team should be involved to improve usability and to solve any existing navigational concerns.
● Competitive research questions: These should be addressed with specific landing pages and videos that address benefits, as well as being optimized for brand-related terms. The product management team should be involved to collect feedback and implement improvements. The sales team should also be involved to learn how to best explain the product benefits to potential customers.
● Reputation questions: These should be addressed with landing pages and videos specific to the query. The reputation management team and social media team should be involved to address these questions properly and to ensure your brand has the best possible image.
Questions are incredibly useful for content marketing inspiration, but they can also provide insights into audience research, conversion optimization and product development. Optimizing for questions also boosts your SEO and ensures that your copy is ready to earn you more organic search visibility.
Researching questions and optimizing for them is a continuous process, however. Over time, you may discover new questions or new ways to find them, offering real-time knowledge that gives your business a competitive edge.