Going Beyond FAQ: How to Use the Q&A Format in Your Content

Going Beyond FAQ: How to Use the Q&A Format in Your Content

People have questions, and they want answers. When they do, where do they go?

Well, they usually go to someone who has the answer, and if you’re lucky, that someone might be you.

The Q&A format provides a great way for you to answer many queries in a short time. Best of all, you don’t even need to have the answers if you know how to find someone who does.

What is the Q&A Format, and Why is It Important?

Q&A stands for “question and answer,” which is similar to a FAQ page, but it usually provides a more personal experience for the viewer or reader. This is because a Q&A format often makes it possible for whoever is looking to get involved in the question-and-answer process.

If you watched a video about building an affiliate site from scratch, you could come in armed with Q&A questions. Hopefully, you have the chance to ask some of them, and if not, it’s likely that other viewers will raise the same inquiries as you.

This type of content can be done in a live video, chat, text, social media event, prerecorded video, in-person event, and more.

From a content creator standpoint, this format can help you drive more traffic to your site and provide your audience with more of the information they want.

Here are some specific reasons you should pay more attention to the Q&A format.

Q&As Can Optimize Content for Organic Search

As we know, FAQ sections and pages do a lot for our SEO. Q&As take on a similar shape by answering important questions raised about a specific topic.

They’re a great way to target long-tail keywords and land featured snippets through targeting “question-based” keywords.

For example, if we head over to Google and look up “how to upload an article into WordPress.”

You’ll find that the first result provides a direct answer to that question. When you’re putting together question-and-answer content you want to find relevant questions that other people are asking on Google so you can potentially rank for those searches.

If you scroll down a little more on the page, you’ll find a section titled “People Also Ask (or people also search for).”

Google makes it easy for us by telling us what other people are searching for related to the keyword you typed into the search box. So, you may want to include some of those phrases in your Q&A session as well.

While you’re doing all of this, you’re including a variety of long-tail keywords that you can convert into a blog post to include along with your video. This is a fast and simple way to put together a keyword-rich piece of content without having to do too much research.

Q&As Help Your Audience Understand Information Better

Google makes it pretty clear in its quality guidelines that they want you to produce content for users, not search engines. It’s our job as content creators to provide answers and solutions to whatever it is people want to know. The question-and-answer format is the perfect place for you to address a large number of questions in a short amount of time.

All in all, we know that Google wants us to write great content and provide answers to questions upfront. The algorithm doesn’t favor people who beat around the bush, drag things on, and fluff up their content.

The sooner you can get someone on your page and give them the answer they want, the better.

One potential way to do this is by answering as many questions as you can in the shortest amount of time while still maintaining proper quality control. Doing this increases your chances of ranking for all of those keywords while also providing a bunch of answers to queries that people may have.

Q&As Are Easy to Create

Question-and-answer content is easy and fast to create because it creates itself. Compared with a FAQ section where you need to know all the answers, all you need to know here are the questions.

You’ll do your research ahead of time by seeing what competitors are ranking for, who has the snippets you want, what does the “people also ask” section say, and so on.

From there, you’ll craft those questions in a way that appeals to both Google and the people. Doing this ensures you keep Google happy while providing valuable and direct information (that also keeps Google happy).

Once you’ve done that, it’s up to the interviewee to provide you with the answers. This is an enjoyable way to put together some extremely valuable content with commentary from industry experts.

You may even be able to rank some of your video content for voice search.

6 Ways to Use Q&As in Your Content

You understand the importance of Q&A interviews and you might even have some ideas as to how you’ll get started. Here are some simple and effective ways you can incorporate this format into your content.

Live Q&A Sessions

Within the live Q&A we have two subcategories. One is you’re the expert and people are asking you the questions. Two is you’re the creator and you’re asking the expert questions from the community.

Both of these methods work but they require their own set of steps to prepare.

You’re the Expert

If you have a skill, talent, or area of expertise, you can set up a live Q&A session on your YouTube channel, social media, or via a Zoom link to your list. The goal would be to preach the value of attending your live session so you get a lot of people to attend.

As the day rolls around, continue to send follow-ups via email and social media motivating your audience to sign up for the question-and-answer session. Prompt them to prepare some questions ahead of time because you’ll be answering as many as you can during the time slot.

Keep in mind that you won’t be able to prepare answers to the questions because you won’t know what people are going to ask. You’re firing straight off the cuff, which has its pros and cons.

On one side, you’re going to seem genuine because people know you’re pulling answers right off your head. On the other side, there’s more room for error if you don’t know the answer or you answer incorrectly.

Make sure you’re recording the interview and breaking it down well enough so you can convert it into a piece of content for your blog or website. You should be able to take many of the questions from the live session and convert them into rankable content.

You’re the Interviewer

In this scenario, you’re no longer the expert. You might be the one with a huge audience looking to bring valuable information to said audience.

Do some outreach and find an industry expert that you want to interview live in a Q&A format. This will provide value to your audience and you’ll also be able to discuss it ahead of time.

Now you can prepare questions that will work from an SEO standpoint while also providing initial value to the people who attend the live event. Your goal should be to ask questions that are related to the questions that people are asking on Google.

They don’t have to be word-for-word in the live event, but they need to be close enough so you can convert the video into written content.

Recorded Video Q&A Interviews

This strategy could be an extension of the previous method or one of its own. You can interview experts on industry topics, commonly asked questions, or go completely off the cuff and see where it goes.

If you recorded your live Q&A that we discussed previously, this could serve as your recorded video interview.

You can also start from scratch. This has a few pros and cons.

You’ll be able to prepare more and discuss with the interviewee so they are prepared for whatever you’re planning to ask. You can also do more SEO work ahead of time so you can easily convert the interview into a piece of rankable content.

The downside is that it might not appear as genuine and you won’t have the opportunity to engage with your audience live because they’ll be watching a replay.

If you’re using this format for the first time, this could be the way to go.

Written Q&A Interviews

A text interview will function the same as a video, except the conversation will be written in text. You can do this live or prerecorded as well.

There are many different formats in which you can do this; Facebook groups, Twitter threads, and Reddit to name a few.

Make sure you’re keeping tabs on the questions that are being asked and saving everything so you can convert the information into a blog post later on. You may even be able to use some of the questions asked in a live Q&A when you have more context about what people want to know.

Q&As in Content Headers

If you’re trying to rank content around popular questions, you’ll end up putting them in header form in your blog posts. This strategy functions much like a FAQ, but the difference is that you’re seeking the questions or answers from a separate source.

For example, if you’re the expert, you’ll want someone else to provide the questions. You can do a social media post or an email blast asking people for questions related to your area of expertise.

Once you’ve compiled enough questions, you can take them and build out a blog post with all the answers.

This works best when focusing on one narrow subject and ensuring that all the questions are relatable to your audience.

If you’re not the expert, you’ll want to follow the same steps but instead, reach out for questions to ask someone else. This person may be a popular figure that will draw attention.

As a result, when you do your outreach, people will be excited to ask this person their questions and will likely check in on your blog post when it’s up.

Ads and Social Media Campaigns

Expert interviews can give your brand a nice boost because the experts provide name recognition and visibility if they share it with their audience. This is a powerful way to build trust, create a buzz, answer audience questions, and rank for a variety of long-tail keywords, all at the same time.

The example above shows how an entrepreneur interviewed an industry expert and was able to provide a ton of value without having to actually know the subject himself. You can do this as well.

Best of all, it’s live without actually being live so you can prepare questions ahead of time and still be able to answer inquiries from the audience on the spot. This method allows you to control the quality of your answers, cater to the SERPs, and provide massive value to your audience.

Question Now; Answer Later

I like this method for YouTube, especially if you run a brand where people don’t often get to see “behind the curtain.” A lot of YouTubers do this when they provide a “day in the life” video.

You can create a social media post or send out an email to your list. Ask them what they want to know about you and what questions they have about you on a personal level.

Take a break from the business talk and allow your audience to get to know you. This can show that you’re relatable and people prefer to buy from people they know and trust.

Conclusion

There are really no limitations to what you can do with the Q&A format. Most importantly, it should be relevant to your brand and provide value to your audience.

If you can take the content and convert it into a blog post or repurpose it in some way, that’s a bonus.

Just remember that the featured snippets live in these Q&A sections so there’s a lot of ranking juice here if you can keep your question-and-answer sessions on topic with what people are asking Google.

Do you regularly create Q&A content? If so, what methods do you use?

The Evolution of Content Marketing: How It’s Changed and Where It’s Going in the Next Decade

The Evolution of Content Marketing: How It’s Changed and Where It’s Going in the Next Decade

A sound content marketing strategy is one of the better ways a business can help shape its brand identity, garner interest from prospects, and retain an engaged audience. It lets you establish authority in your space, project legitimacy, and build trust between you and who you’re trying to reach.

Plan your content for every persona and stage of the buying cycle. [Free  Content Mapping Template]

As you can assume, it’s well worth understanding. But that’s easier said than done. Content marketing isn’t static. The landscape of the practice is constantly changing. It doesn’t look the same now as it did ten years ago, and in ten years it won’t look the same as it does now.

It’s a difficult topic to pin down — one with a fascinating past and an exciting future. Out of both genuine interest and forward-thinking practicality, it’s important to understand both where it’s been and where it’s going.

Here, we’ll get some perspective on both. We’re going to take a look at how content marketing has evolved in the past decade, and how it’s going to evolve in the next one.

How Content Marketing Evolved in the Past Decade

Google changed the game.

In 2011, Google conducted its landmark Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) study. It found that 88% of shoppers use what’s known as a Zero Moment of Truth — a discovery and awareness stage in a buying cycle where a consumer researches a product before buying it. Google’s research also indicated that word of mouth was a definitive factor in swaying that moment.

The study provides a unique point of reference in the context of content marketing’s evolution. It captures the essence of how and why businesses needed to focus on content marketing at the beginning of the 2010s.

It was tacit evidence that companies’ stories were being told online — well beyond the control of their marketing departments — and it was in their best interest to help shape those conversations.

The ZMOT study highlighted the need for sound Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ranking for relevant keywords on search engines became all but essential to bolstering a company’s online presence and holding up during consumers’ Zero Moments of Truth.

But that study wasn’t the only bombshell Google dropped in the early 2010s. Around the time the study came out, Google’s search ranking algorithm changed to discourage “keyword stuffing” — the practice of repetitively loading a webpage with specific keywords to try to sway search engine rankings.

The change represented what is still a continuous effort by Google to provide users with positive, helpful online experiences. And it did just that. The shift that set the stage for businesses to focus on producing more high-quality, meaningful content.

Social media rose.

But content marketing’s evolution wasn’t exclusively linked to search engines. Social media’s meteoric rise to prominence — one of the most disruptive trends in human history — also had a profound impact on the practice. As these platforms developed into mainstays of everyday life, they presented new challenges for content marketers.

As social media evolved, it popularized a different kind of content consumption than search engines. The difference boiled down to a matter of “pointed versus passive.”

Consumers use search engines to find content more pointedly. Generally speaking, when you use a search engine, you’re looking for a specific answer or a specific subject. Social media allowed users to consume content more passively on their preferred platforms. The content you see on your Facebook feed is finding its way to you — not the other way around.

That trend incentivized the creation of more shareable, attention-grabbing content that could easily be spread across social media channels.

How Content Marketing Evolved in the Past Decade social media

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Video made a push.

Video also emerged as one of the prevailing content marketing mediums as the decade progressed, particularly among younger consumers. By 2017, over 50% of consumers wanted to see videos from brands they supported — more than any other kind of content.

How Content Marketing Evolved in the Past Decade video

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Video is inherently engaging. Generally speaking, it’s easier to follow than blog posts, email newsletters, or ebooks. Gradually, audiences took to it more and more as the decade progressed. By the end of the 2010s, platforms like YouTube were central to the landscape of content marketing.

Obviously, content marketing underwent several shifts in the 2010s, but as I said at the beginning of this article, the practice isn’t — and will never be — static. There are still plenty of changes to come.

How Content Marketing Will Evolve in the Next Decade

Video content will continue to rule.

As I just mentioned, video was emerging as one of the most — if not the most — important mediums for content marketing at the end of this past decade. There’s no indication that that trend is stopping anytime soon.

As of 2020, 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool — up 24% from 2016. And 92% of marketers who use it consider it an important part of their marketing strategy. It’s already a staple in several companies’ content marketing operations, and research indicates that base is going to expand.

According to a survey by Wyzowl, 59% of marketers who weren’t using video in 2019 expected to be using it throughout 2020.

How Content Marketing Will Evolve in the Next Decade video

 

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All told, it looks like the exploration and expansion of video as the preeminent medium for content marketing is going to continue. The priority for marketers is going to be a matter of standing out.

That could mean emphasizing the quality of the content you produce — ensuring it’s enriching, well-crafted, and relevant to viewers. You could also try looking to emerging platforms like TikTok.

No matter how individual producers and companies manage to innovate when it comes to video marketing, the medium is going to be a mainstay in the evolution of content marketing going forward.

Adjusting for mobile will be essential and present new opportunities.

According to Statista, global mobile data traffic in 2022 will be seven times larger than it was in 2017. Mobile device usage is increasing astronomically, and it’s in every content marketer’s best interest to keep pace with that trend.

In 2019, 61% of Google searches took place on a mobile device, and that trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Having a website optimized for mobile devices will be central to successful SEO efforts. And a lot of the content you create will need to fit that bill as well.

Blogs should be easily navigable on smartphones. Readily accessible video content that your audience can watch on mobile devices will be a big help as well. Prospects and customers will need to be able to get as much out of your mobile resources as your desktop ones.

This shift towards mobile will also present new opportunities through emerging kinds of media. More novel mobile technology — like virtual and augmented reality — will have a very real place in the future of content marketing.

As people continue to rely more on their mobile devices, content marketers will have to as well.

Successful content will be more empathetic, purposeful, and customer-first.

Google’s ranking algorithm aims to prioritize the content that will mean the most to searchers. Ideally, by Google’s standards, the first ranking search result for any keyword is the one that best addresses whatever users are searching for. And in all likelihood, they’ll keep tinkering with their process in pursuit of that interest.

While there’s no telling exactly how the algorithm might change going forward, one fact remains — marketers need to focus on high-quality content that will register with consumers. That means understanding your audience and putting considerable effort into how to reach them best.

As HubSpot Senior Content Strategist Amanda Zantal-Wiener puts it, “Where I’m starting to see content turning a corner is in the area of empathy. In the years to come, marketers are going to start creating more content that’s truly created in the mindset of putting themselves in the shoes of others — be it their customers, prospects, partners, or someone else within their audiences. They’ll ask questions like, ‘What does my audience need from me right now? What can I create that’s truly going to help them?’ That’s going to become a requirement for marketers when they begin brainstorming content.”

Research, outreach, and community engagement will become even more important in the context of content creation. Content marketing is trending towards audience enrichment as opposed to product promotion. If this shifting tide holds true, content marketing will continue to become more targeted, purposeful, and customer-centric as the practice evolves.

If there’s anything to take away from understanding the previous and upcoming evolutions of content marketing it’s this — don’t get too comfortable. New trends and challenges are always emerging, and it will always be in your best interest to stay abreast of them.

And above all else, focus on consistently creating high-quality content that your audience will always be able to get something out of.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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7 Reasons Why You are Going to Fail at Affiliate Marketing

7 Reasons Why You are Going to Fail at Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the best things to ever happen to would-be entrepreneurs around the world. In short, it’s provided a platform and legitimate business for anyone to start making money online, from anywhere. No matter where you are located, what your current level of education is, or even how much money you have to get started with… affiliate marketing could be the opportunity you’ve been looking for.

However, just because something is easily accessible and available, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy.

This is especially true with affiliate marketing — which comes in all different forms, shapes, and sizes. The most simple forms are through advertising from Google or Amazon right onto your site, while advanced methods include PPC marketing, ad buying, and building out your own niche content sites.

Before you get too excited, I want to stress the importance of affiliate marketing and how real it is. To do this, I’m going to provide you with seven of the most common reasons why people fail at it. Everyone needs to learn to walk before they can run, and hopefully this article serves as a reminder that the same is true in the world of affiliate marketing.

affiliate_marketing_easy

1 – You Think Affiliate Marketing is Easy

There is a good chance that you first heard about affiliate marketing through the internet. You likely saw something showing their check or heard about how someone made a killing by recommending different products or services online.

While all of that might be legitimate and authentic, the truth is that these stories are few and far between. Yes, people are making real money with affiliate marketing, but every success story that you hear actually had hundreds of failures and stories you never hear about behind it.

Affiliate marketing is real — but it’s definitely not easy.

content_creation_only

2 – Focusing Only on Content Creation Works Best

To find success with affiliate marketing, you need to niche down as much as possible. The thought process that you can go wide range and try to attract a generic audience and monetize it effective with affiliate marketing just isn’t realistic. It can work, but you will have more than a billion sites on the internet to compete again.

The truth is, you need to niche down as much as possible and become an authority for information within that space. The more you niche down, the easier it will be for you to not out stand out from the crowd, but to also rank higher in the search results as well. This will also be key for the effectiveness of your monetization.

However, just “creating content” isn’t going to do the trick. There are over a billion active sites on the internet today and Google is only listing 10 pages organically in their search results. This means it’s virtually impossible for you to rank on the main page of Google, unless you are going after extremely niche keywords and also have content that is catered to exactly what your audience is looking for.

general_audience

3 – Cater to a General Audience and Promote Everything

With over three billion people on the internet and nearly two-billion-plus being on social media, it must be pretty easy to make money online. After all, if you had a website or blog that was getting 10,000 visits per day and each one of them made you .01, that’s an easy $100 per day in your pocket, right?

Wrong… for the most part, the majority of site traffic and people online aren’t going to make you money. This is why it’s extremely important to niche down your site focus and content as much as possible. Once you have a steady flow of people coming to your site and you know exactly what they are looking for, that’s when you can start monetizing and putting an offer out there that you know they will eat up.

You can see a perfect example of this in my blog monetization guide where I walk through the niche process of sports, to basketball, to jump training. If this is something of interest to you, be sure to join my how to start a sports blog course on Udemy. It walks you through the complete process of how to start a blog, find a winning niche and also making money with jump training programs like the ones mentioned earier.

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4 – Let Google Adsense Do All the Work For You

Google Adsense is great. It’s helped millions of people discover how to start making money with their site, and for some, it’s even helped pay off their mortgage. However, these stories of massive success with Google Adsense are also few and far between.

If something is extremely easy to make money with, isn’t there some kind of catch? Well yes, that happens to be the case with Google Adsense as well — but only if you want to put some extra work in.

The ways Adsense works is simple. You throw a line of code on your site, then Google starts serving banner and text ads on your site. Every time those ads are clicked, you earn a percentage. (usually in the 30-50% range, but you never actually know). This means you are making only half of the money you potentially could be, if you were running direct ad sales, affiliate offers or working deals directly with relevant advertisers that are currently being served on your site.

Long story short… if you are only using Google Adsense and are quite happy with your earnings, you are simply leaving money on the table.

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5 – Relying ONLY on Affiliate Marketing

Just like you can do yourself some harm by only relying on monetization methods like Google Adsense, you can also do the same if you only rely on affiliate marketing. We all know how affiliate marketing works… essentially you are the middle man. The advertiser makes money, the affiliate makes money, and so does the network serving the ads.

Well, what if you removed both sides of the equation and still had your same business model and lead process in place? Then you’d likely make a lot more money.

It won’t work in all situations, but if you are pushing massive leads to a network or product/service that you can replicate or start on your own… why not? Over the long run, this could be a massive amount of profit right back into your pocket.

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6 – Staying in Your Hole and Collect Money

There are two sides to affiliate marketing — those who are quietly making money and no one knows about it, and then there are those who have blogs or websites where they talk about it. Neither side is wrong, and both have their benefits. For over 10 years I was an affiliate marketer in the dark, then I decided to launch this blog in 2007 and share my story and advice.

While both options are great, I will tell you that starting my blog completely changed everything. Not only did it become a new outlet for growth, branding, and business… it also made me a better writer, business owner, entrepreneur, public speaker and much more. The opportunities as a result of the blog have also been amazing.

On top of all of that, the blog also gives me leverage. If I wasn’t paid from an ad network or advertiser, the last thing they would want is to get blasted on the blog — this might not be the case if I was just a lonely affiliate without a voice in the community.

Again, both sides are great, but the networking and earnings potential for putting yourself out there is also immense

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7 – Diagnosed with a Case of Shiny Object Syndrome

If you want to fail at affiliate marketing, catch a good old diagnosis of ‘shiny object syndrome‘. Many of us not only know what this is, we are also guilty of it as well.

Shiny object syndrome is jumping from project to project, hoping to hit it big on the next one. A good example of this would be if you had a site that was doing extremely well and making series money, but then you saw a new blog post about someone doing extremely well with mobile CPA ads. So then you leave focus on your site and start focusing elsewhere. Not only have you lost your focus, you are now spread too thin on both sides and your original successful site is now quickly falling behind.

The same thing happens in affiliate marketing all the time, and this can be even more dangerous if you have active ad campaigns running with large daily budgets.

Your Success in Affiliate Marketing Falls on You!

As mentioned earlier, affiliate marketing is one of the best opportunities out there… but it shouldn’t be taken for advantage. Map out how you’d like to make money with affiliate marketing, create a real business that provides value, then implement a monetization strategy where you can compete and scale with time.

While all of this is going on, always remind yourself of the seven steps to affiliate marketing failure that I’ve listed above.