The other day, I had a huge realization.
Here’s what happened. I was Googling for answers to a technical SEO issue and got a bunch of Quora results.
The Quora discussions were fascinating! Before I knew it, I’d spent an hour scrolling through marketing questions and answers.
Some of the answers were really good. I even ended up clicking through to in-depth blog articles linked in the Quora answers.
I couldn’t believe it. I had blown an hour of my time on Quora!
That’s when the realization hit me: Quora is really powerful!
I spent an hour on the site, learned a lot, clicked through to a bunch of sites and realized that this was a marketing technique that I could leverage!
Marketers like me could use Quora as a massive source of referral traffic! The more I researched the channel, the more I realized its potential.
Quora has three huge advantages. First, it builds your personal brand. Second, it drives referral traffic. And third, anyone can do it.
I’ll explain exactly how.
First off, what’s referral traffic?
For those who don’t know, referral traffic is Google’s method of reporting website traffic from somewhere other than through Google.
If you are a more advanced reader, you can just skip to the Quora part.
There are seven main types or sources of traffic (or channels) that Google Analytics reports:
- Organic search – People find your site by googling keywords.
- Social – People click through to your site from Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Direct – People type your URL directly into their browser.
- Referral – People visit your website by clicking on a link from a different website.
- Email – People click through to your website based on an email that you (or someone else) sent them.
- Other – Usually, this refers to traffic from advertising sources other than paid search.
- Paid Search – People click on display or PPC ads to get to your website.
Here’s a quick screenshot from GA of these 7 traffic channels to NeilPatel.com.
It’s helpful to know where your own traffic is coming from. Here’s how to figure it out.
1. Go to Google Analytics and click “Acquisition.”
2. Next, click “Overview.” You should see a pie chart of your website’s traffic broken down by channels.
3. Want to take a step further? Scroll down to where you see “Referral” in the traffic sources and click on it.
Now you can see exactly what sites are sending you referral traffic. Nice!
Why does referral traffic matter?
So, now you know what referral traffic is. And, you know that Quora is one possible source of referral traffic.
But, why the big deal over referral traffic? Why does it even matter?
Referral traffic gives you an additional stream of traffic.
You know how people tell you, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket?”
Here’s my advice: “Don’t build all of your traffic from one source.” In other words, organic search traffic is great, but what if an algorithm change ruins everything for you?
You’ve probably heard the horror stories around the Penguin update that Google released in 2013. Thousands of websites were destroyed by a single algorithm!
Could it happen again? Who knows?
Google is constantly updating their algorithm. Although the algorithm is driven by machine learning and less likely to have wild fluctuations, you never can tell when one traffic source is going to dip.
Most referral traffic is social, meaning that you probably get more people clicking through from, say, Facebook, than a non-social site where you have a link.
Facebook and Pinterest send a ton of social media referral traffic.
But, what if that social platform stops sending you links or traffic?
Most websites don’t have much referral traffic. According to Yotpo, an average of 10% of most websites’ traffic comes from a referral source.
That’s not a whole lot, if you think about it.
When you build up your referral sources, however, you get a far better chance of steady and interested traffic to your website.
Your best choice is to diversify your sources, so that you’re always guaranteed some traffic.
Referral traffic gives you visitors without needing to build links.
I’m a huge fan of link building, as long as you do it right.
Believe it or not, referral traffic is better than link building.
Why do I say this?
A link is just an electronic signal from one website to another. It doesn’t mean anything from a visitor standpoint.
Sure, link building gives your website SEO value, but it doesn’t necessarily give you more traffic. Nor does it give you better traffic.
But, a visitor from another site? That’s a different story. That’s why referral traffic is so valuable.
Referral traffic is “friendly” traffic.
This is one of my favorite things about referral traffic and why it’s been so valuable for building my businesses.
People who come through referral traffic are friendly. What do I mean by friendly?
When someone clicks a link to your website from a different website, it means that they are curious, impressed or intrigued, right?
They are your friends, or at least they’re thinking about becoming your friend.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that you read an article that I wrote for Inc.
You like the article, and decide to find out more about me. You click on my byline and a short bio appears:
The bio contains a link to my website. You click it and land on my website. You are referral traffic. You made the choice to visit my site.
You might watch a video, read an article or sign up for some free training. You’re curious, interested and actively engaging with the site.
That’s why I say that referral traffic is friendly traffic.
The people who click to your website from referring websites are usually interested. They are interested for a reason.
That means that are more likely to spend time, visit other content and convert on your website.
How do I know this? From my analytics.
Just one of my referral sources has the following metrics:
- 71% new sessions
- 37% bounce rate
- 3:31 average session duration
Those are good numbers, because they tell me that users are interested and engaged by the content on the site! I don’t get numbers quite that good from ordinary search traffic.
Here’s the bottom line on why referral traffic matters. Referral traffic usually consists of people who are interested in you and want to find out more about you and your services.
Quora delivers some of the best referral traffic of all, as you’re about to find out.
Take a look at these stats from Wishpond. For this site, Quora delivers the second highest amount of referral traffic, after Facebook. It even beats out Twitter!
The average user coming from Quora spends almost six minutes on the site! Clearly, there is a high level of engagement from Quora’s referral traffic.
Why should you leverage Quora as a source of referral traffic?
What is Quora? Quora is a social question and answer website. It was launched in 2009 and today has more than 100 million unique monthly visitors.
How popular is it? According to Alexa, it’s the 122nd ranked site in the world and number 67 in the U.S.
Most of Quora’s active users are located in the United States and India.
The age range, as would be expected, is broad. Overall, however, the most active users are 18-34.
Further, most users are more educated than the average Internet user.
It’s fair to assume that people using Quora are informed and somewhat curious.
The basic idea of the website is this: You ask a question and people answer your question.
Pretty easy, right?
But, Quora is so much more.
Take a look at this infographic, which explains in more detail how the platform works.
Don’t let that complicated diagram scare you. Using Quora is actually really easy, because the website has a clean UI and intuitive way of using it.
Quora is a massive source of UGC (user-generated content). Users ask questions at a rate of approximately 6,000 per day. But, the real explosion of content comes with the answers.
Some answers, like this one, are nearly 5,000 words long!
The article is complete with charts, graphs and images.
There are hundreds of thousands of such questions, but there are more answers than questions.
Here’s a trending question that has hundreds of answers.
Answers are ranked according to their upvotes.
People can also comment and downvote on an answer.
Since Quora is a social platform, there’s a big drive towards getting shares on other social platforms.
Take a look at how Quora positions social sharing icons. You can share an answer, even if you haven’t read the whole thing.
Some of the questions are crazy! Like who would even think about this?
Hundreds of people have answered it and thousands of people have viewed it.
The real power of Quora is in finding your tribe and getting involved. Remember, you’re trying to gain referral traffic to your website.
You want to locate the right kind of people — the people who are interested in your website’s content and maybe even in converting on your product and service.
I’m a digital marketer, so I’m interested in connecting with other digital marketers.
If I’m a Quora member, I will go to the top search bar and type, “marketing.”
I see the topic “digital marketing” and click it to find out more. As it turns out, this is a big group. There are at least 356,700 followers of this single group!
Obviously that’s not the only marketing topic on Quora. In the “related topics” column, you can browse other groups that cater to people with similar interests.
If you become active in this niche, you will quickly be viewed as an authority.
One of the first things that people see when they enter a group is a link to the “most viewed writers.” Here’s the Social Media Marketing group on Quora. I click “Most Viewed Writers” to find out who is a social media authority.
The people who provide the most viewed answers are featured on top.
These are people who have put time and effort into providing value for other people. Their answers earn people’s eyeballs and, hopefully, their respect, too.
If you click on a user’s name, you’ll get a full bio. Look at all of the information that Quora displays!
Quora is a powerful form of personal branding. When you begin driving referral traffic to your website, as I’ll explain below, you will also be building your personal brand!
You can’t grow your referral traffic without also building a personal brand on Quora.
So, how exactly do you get this gold mine of referral traffic?
How to Referral Traffic from Quora
You’ll need a couple of things before you start.
- In-depth content on your website. Quora users need to have a compelling reason to visit your website. Content, good content, is the reason.
- Time to spend on Quora. The referral traffic isn’t going to gush in after a couple of hours of clicking buttons and pulling levers. You’ll need to spend time cultivating your presence on Quora and building a personal brand. Quora is a place where credibility is king.
Now, let’s get into it.
Step #1: Join Quora and fill out your profile, if you haven’t done it already.
First, you’ll select all of the broad areas that you’re interested in. This informs Quora as to what kind of content to show you.
Second, you’ll tell Quora what topics you know about.
As you begin typing the topics in, it will populate the search field with relevant topics. I recommend choosing the topics that contain the most followers.
Once you’ve added a few topics, you’re ready to go on to the next step — filling out your profile.
It’s important to be as thorough as possible. There is a lot of information that you can add. The more you fill out, the better.
Keep in mind that your profile is designed to build trust and credibility.
You don’t need to sell yourself and your services as much as you need to emphasize that you are a trustworthy and capable person.
Step #2: Create a Quora blog.
Click on your profile name in the far right corner. You’ll see an option that says “blogs.” Click it.
Now, you can start your own blog on Quora.
The topic of your blog should be directly in line with the content on your website and the area of authority you’re trying to build.
You’re trying to create credibility and demonstrate your expertise.
How much should you keep up with this blog? It’s up to you.
The reason why I recommend it is because it adds an extra layer of trust, authority and credibility to you as a Quora contributor.
Step #3: Answer questions.
There’s no shortcut to Quora success. You’ve got to answer questions.
The simple way to find questions to answer is by clicking “Answer” on the top bar and looking for good questions to answer.
Obviously, you want to provide really helpful answers. There are several ways to do this:
- Write step-by-step answers.
- Write in a conversational tone.
- Use images where possible.
- Link to other helpful information.
Using the Quora interface, you have a variety of text formatting options, images, quotes, coding and even math equations- all available to use.
The more questions you answer, the more visibility you’ll receive on Quora. Gradually, you will build up your stats, including views, upvotes and shares of your content.
Step #4: Link to your blog in the questions that you answer.
Here is where we get into the nitty-gritty of gaining referral traffic.
This is important: Whenever possible, link to your website’s blog articles within your Quora answer.
The mechanics are simple.
- Figure out which blog article would be most helpful, based on your answer.
- Copy the link to that blog article.
- Go to your Quora answer.
- Highlight the portion you want to link.
- Create the hyperlink by clicking in the upper right corner of the answer edit pane.
When you create the link, you have the option to turn it into a footnote or into an actual hyperlink.
I recommend using the hyperlink option (do not click “footnote”), because doing so will provide a better chance that people will click on it.
Now, for my sermon on linking to your blog.
In two words, this is it: Be careful.
The point of Quora is not link building or driving referral traffic. The point of Quora is providing answers for others.
It’s a community where professional, intelligent people get together to learn from one another.
Your goal as a Quora contributor is to provide value. In this way, it’s not much different from conventional long form content marketing.
In content marketing, your goal is to give something of value to other people. For example, why do I write these super long, detailed, step-by-step blog articles?
Answer: Because I want to give you value!
The same thing is true on Quora. Your number one goal is to give value.
If you do, then you’ll enjoy the secondary benefits of a strong personal brand and awesome referral traffic.
How exactly should you link to your blog? Here are my answers:
- Only once per answer
- Only when necessary
- Only when it’s natural within the context of your answer
Here are two examples:
- Good example: “For an example of creating a long form blog post, feel free to check out this step-by-step example.”
- Bad example: “Head on over to my blog for more awesome content!!”
The first one is natural, value-added and important. The second is shallow, salesy and short-sighted. Don’t promote yourself and your site. Instead, aim to be helpful.
It’s a good idea to add links to other websites as well. That way, it doesn’t appear as if you’re only trying to get traffic for your site.
Step #5: Find the best questions to answer- those that will give you the most visibility. (And keep linking to your blog.)
For those who answer questions on Quora, the most prized stats are “views” and “upvotes.”
- The way to get views and upvotes is, obviously, by answering questions.
- But, you also have to answer questions really well.
- Finally, you have to answer questions that will position you to gain the most visibility and upvotes.
There are several ways to find the best questions to answer.
At first, you can click the “Answer” button in the top menu and select answers that have been curated for you, based on your areas of expertise.
Another way to find questions to answer is to search for a topic that you’re an expert in and find the relevant topic page.
In this case, I searched for “search engine optimization” and found this topic page with 672k followers.
Next, click “Questions” on the right side of the page.
These questions, all 33k+ of them, are questions that followers of the topic have asked.
There’s a good chance that you’ll get some visibility if you provide a helpful answer. Obviously, you want to find a question that has a lot of followers.
For example, here is a question that has 12 followers.
That’s not a huge number, but it’s enough to provide some level of value.
The best way, however, to create more views and upvotes is to write your own answer to a popular and trending question.
Popular questions and answers are usually featured at the top of the feed on any selected topic.
If you think that you can provide a better answer, go for it. If you succeed, you’ll get a ton of visibility and hopefully lots of upvotes.
Then, if your answer gets the most upvotes, you’ll win the top position in the answer list for the question.
Even if you don’t win the top spot, you’ll still get some high visibility. Notice how 22 people have answered this question. Even an answer that isn’t superior will still get views.
In the screenshot below, notice how an answer with only 68 upvotes still has 6.8k views. That’s not bad, as far as views are concerned!
When your answer is displayed alongside an answer with higher upvotes, you still get views. Plus, you gain credibility by being associated with higher upvoted answers.
The more you write on Quora, the more value you’ll give. In the meantime, you’ll gain value as well.
If you carefully track your Quora referral traffic, you’ll soon discover that it can be an incredibly valuable source of leads.
The marketers at Wishpond, mentioned above, started tracking their Quora leads and discovered that traffic from Quora was a huge part of their funnel!
Plus, this traffic was converting to sign ups at a massive rate — 44%! In other words, almost half of their referral traffic from Quora was signing up for the service on the site!
Referral traffic like this is too valuable to ignore!
The great thing about Quora is that it’s free. You don’t have to spend any money to get started and to experience its benefits.
Many marketers love the idea of promoting their content on Facebook, sharing links on Twitter or spreading their ideas on LinkedIn. But, they’re overlooking Quora!
If it’s time for you to build your personal brand and take your referral traffic to the next step, Quora is waiting for you.
Have you tracked Quora referral traffic metrics? What’s your experience?