Discussion Sites To Help Drive Content Inspiration
You’ve finished checking your Twitter timeline, reading Google News, and perusing competitor sites, but are still struggling to find content inspiration for a new blog post – where else can you look?
Question and answer sites can provide you with a list of the most commonly asked questions, as well as a few outfield ideas, that can be easily turned into good quality posts.
They aren’t infallible, not least because they weren’t established as a means of providing inspiration to bloggers and also because such sites inevitably become filled with spam. But, by choosing a selection of the better quality sites and even using a tool like FAQFox.com (which we will be reviewing and providing a guide on later) they can help to fill gaps.
Using Discussion Sites
To manually use sites like Quora.com, you typically just visit the home page, find the search box, and enter your keyword or key phrase, but there are some exceptions to this rule. If you can find a tool that effectively crawls all of your chosen sites for you, then this can take a lot of the manual work out of the process and give you a good list of questions to work from.
If you’re looking to develop a content marketing strategy, which you really should be, then you already have the perfect venue to link to your uniquely written blog post.
Quora is, in our opinion, the best of the question and answer sites, or discussion sites, on the web. There is a great range of topics, there is less spam than on some other sites, and not all of the questions are the same “What is…” and “What are…” format.
Furthermore, the site is busy, which means that you can find additional inspiration quite regularly, and the search engine is robust and solid whether you are using a single keyword, or a phrase consisting of a string of words. You can also set up notifications, ensuring that you receive regular updates.
Quora should be in your list of most used answer sites.
Amazon owned Askville is better suited to ecommerce sites, that are looking for questions regarding products or groups of products. Even then, though, there are some inherent problems.
If you have a single word keyword, then you could get lucky with a decent set of questions, but two or more words not only leads to irrelevant results, but it’s almost as if the site is going out of its way to provide results that you don’t want to see. Even adding quote marks around your search string doesn’t improve things.
Askville may be useful for some ecommerce sites, but we think it more likely that you will avoid it.
Yahoo Answers may be considered one of the oldest of discussion sites, and if you’re manually searching or going through questions by category, then it is unlikely that you will find anything of real use. Spam is a major problem, the questions are extremely basic, and you will struggle to find any decent depth to your question list.
Yahoo Answers can be useful as an addition for question scraping tools, but less than useful for manual searching.
Like many of this type of site, Answerbag was not set up for the purpose that we will be using it for, and this means that there are some fairly major problems. You only really have the option to search by category, otherwise you will have to use the Google Custom Search box, and the results can be difficult to work with, at best.
Answerbag is another one that is best avoided except for use with a scraping tool.
Blurtit is one site that you will have to try for yourself to determine whether it will work for you. In our experience, it can provide some excellent results for some keywords, but some really poor results for others
Blurtit is worth experimenting with, and is definitely worth inclusion in your scrape list.
Wiki Answers has the potential to provide almost exactly what we’re looking for, but isn’t quite targeted enough in its delivery. On searching for your keyword, you will be given a page of content on the category, which is usually reasonable quality information and may give inspiration in its own right. However, you do have to do a fair bit of scrolling before you hit what is a limited list of questions. The questions on the list have proven to be quite useful as content inspiration, however.
Wiki Answers gives limited, but good quality results, if you don’t mind the short scroll.
The Best Discussion Sites
The question of which of these sites to use really depends on whether you will be manually searching, whether you want emailed question lists, or whether you will be using a question scraping service.
You should definitely include Quora for any technique, along with Wiki Answers. Yahoo Answers is also useful for scraping lists, and you should also include Blurtit in your list.
Let us know of any similar sites that we’ve missed out, or any scraping tools or apps that you use when looking for content inspiration.