Part Three: How To Use Yahoo! Answers

Filed in Social Media, Yahoo by Matt McGee on February 13, 2008 8 Comments

This is part three in a series on social marketing using Yahoo! Answers. If you missed earlier installments, please begin with the series introduction.

Yahoo AnswersYahoo! Answers is the #2 reference site on the Internet (behind Wikipedia). Its popularity provides an opportunity for smart online marketers to acquire targeted referral traffic, as well as indirect search engine traffic thanks to the site’s growing popularity in major SERPs — Google’s, in particular. Earlier in this series, I’ve talked about what YA is and why you should use it; in this final installment, I’ll share tips on how to use Yahoo! Answers for marketing and exposure.

How To Use Yahoo! Answers

First Things First: Professionals & Links are Allowed

Here’s one of the things I love about YA: They realize people like us are using the service. They don’t pretend we don’t exist, and they don’t equate anything commercial with spam. In a very well-written explanation of what’s spam and what isn’t, Yahoo! Answers realizes the business benefits their service offers:

There are many professionals and business owners providing valuable knowledge and experiences on Answers. By identifying yourself as such and providing great answers, you are building credibility and positive brand image.

Isn’t that a refreshing outlook from a social site? YA’s outlook on link drops is summed up in the Community Guidelines:

If you have years of experience in something, have a special hobby, own your own business, or if you are a knowledge partner, 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.

(emphasis mine)

It’s important to note that any link you include in a question or answer will be nofollowed. Yahoo! Answers is not for link building; it’s for traffic building.

So, now that it’s clear you can use YA for commercial purposes within the rules, the obvious question is: How do you use Yahoo! Answers for marketing?

RSS is Your Friend

YA has a very nice categorical heirarchy, but you’ll go crazy trying to browse from category to category and keep up with all the questions available to be answered. Luckily for all of us, every category in the system has its own RSS feed. So, find the categories you want to follow and subscribe to the RSS feed. If you’re a YouTube expert, you’d go into the “Computers & Internet” category, then dig down to find the YouTube category, then look for the RSS link:

Yahoo Answers category RSS

But wait, there’s more! If you don’t find the categories to your liking, use the search box and find questions that are in your wheel house. YA also makes an RSS feed available for any search you do. Sweet!

I should mention that the RSS feeds don’t always update as quickly as I’d like, so once or twice a week I do go to the site and spend some time looking for questions to answer. That’s where the next tip comes in.

Use Sorting Options

When you reach a category or sub-category, you’ll see the most recent questions. But you can also sort two other ways, and each has its own benefit:

  • Sort by Date: Questions are open for four days by default, and users can extend a question once by an extra four days. I like to sort by date to find questions that are about to expire. If these questions have no answers, or only a couple answers, I can often go in and give the best answer of the bunch and get an easy 10 points for providing the best answer. This helps you build up your points profile, though it may not help much with the exposure and branding.
  • Sort by No. of Answers: This is where you help your exposure and branding. You can sort by how many answers a question has to find the “hot” questions that are drawing lots of eyeballs. By providing a great answer, and including your link when appropriate, you have a chance to be seen by a lot of people and potentially get some traffic to your site/blog.
Yahoo Answers sorting

In case you’re wondering, I’ve seen no correlation between how many answers a question receives and how likely that page is to rank well in the SERPs.

Sign Your Name

When leaving an answer related to this blog, I always make sure to sign my name. Why? Because spammers don’t. Spammers just drop links in their answers and hit the next question. Signing my name should help distinguish my answers from those folks. At least I hope so. Here’s how I do it:

Yahoo Answers - sign your name

I don’t sign my name and include a link with every question. If I’m answering something about the Seattle Seahawks or Seattle Mariners, or the TV show LOST, leaving a link to this blog would fit the YA definition of spam: It’s off-topic. Don’t sign your name and include a link with every answer, just the good answers related to your line of expertise.

Don’t Spam

Just in case it needs to be said, I’m saying it. Here’s the link again to YA’s very helpful page explaining the line between marketing and spam.


My goal with this series was to show you how Yahoo! Answers might be a viable way to increase your exposure and branding as an expert in your field. YA is a highly-trafficked site that ranks behind only Wikipedia among Internet reference sites. Yes, there’s a lot of junk to wade through, but there are opportunities for the savvy professional. When used correctly, Yahoo! Answers can be a source of direct referral traffic, as well as indirect search engine traffic. Follow the guidelines, and as with any social media site, focus first on what you can give to the community rather than what you can get from it.

This concludes a three-part series on social marketing using Yahoo! Answers. If you missed earlier articles, please begin with the series introduction.

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  1. A Week In Social Media: 12 Articles You Shouldn’t Have Missed | February 18, 2008
  1. iamjustinm says:

    Awesome. I did not know I could subscribe to an RSS of a search! Very cool.
    This was a really informative and refreshing series Mr. McGee, thanks!

  2. vanessa says:

    Thanks for a very interesting series about Yahoo Answers. I would definitely like to explore this option of answering questions more, especially since you have provided so much information about it! Matt, you have frequently written about Yahoo so I feel confident asking you this question…How important do you feel a listing in Yahoo directory is these days? Is it worth the $300/year?

  3. Great series, Matt. With all the different places you could go to get traffic, Yahoo Answers is definitely one of the tops. Your series is just a reminder that I need to get myself in gear and spend a little time over there again.


  4. Denise Baker says:

    Great info. Tried categories, we have been in the water treatment industry for 20 years. How do I find the category for me?

  5. Matt McGee says:

    Hi Denise – you may need to use the RSS feeds. Do search for your keyword(s) and then subscribe to the RSS feed for questions that include those words.

  6. Chrisha says:

    I have a question.
    I use Yahoo! Answers and asked a question, but when the answer came out it wasn’t published on the site and I couldn’t see the full answer.. What do I do?

  7. Been looking to market to this myself. Thanks for the detailed explanation. I figure now that Y! and Microsoft are together, it should be more on my radar.


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