If you haven't heard of Yahoo Answers before, perhaps its time to familiarize yourself, as there are 4 means of using it to increase your company's sales. The concept is that people with questions pose them, and numerous other "do gooders" (and those with more obvious commercial motives) post answers to these questions. The "Asker" then evaluates the answers, and the one with the best answer is awarded points and status. No more 10 million results as found with search engine result sets, just a finite number of answers using the human logic algorithm (which is still superior to search algorithms by the way).

Yahoo Answers

The whole "answers" phenomenon is not really new, in fact its been around a number of years now, but it is growing in popularity see Danny Sullivan's post last June on the growth of Yahoo Answers. The beauty is perhaps in its simplicity. This growth however, provides a real opportunity for sales, and sometimes for significant sales.

This of course begs the question; how can you increase your website's sales via Yahoo Answers? After having helped a number of clients through this process, we've found four ways to use Yahoo Answers to increase a website's sales:

1) Answer questions related to your business. You are an expert on the subject afterall! If you sell saunas, then check Yahoo Answers daily for related questions, and give good solid well thought out answers and link to supporting documentation. Define yourself as the definitive authority on the topic on Yahoo Answers. Its important to keep in mind that your response should not agressively push people to your products or site. Instead a more subtle soft sell approach is needed. Perhaps you have a tool or research on your site that supports your contention.

2) Pose strategic questions. By analyzing the patterns of questions in Yahoo Answers over time, you'll often see similar questions asked. Build a tool/calculator on your site that helps answer those questions, and/or post related research on your site that helps to answer those questions. Then, pose that same kind of question again, and ask if these tools/calculators/research you've found (which noone knows are really on your site) are sound (knowing full well they are). If all goes well, you've created awareness of the existence of these tools on your own site, and when such questions are asked on Yahoo Answers in the future, hopefully people will merely direct the asker to your site.

3) Increase your organic rankings with Yahoo Answers. While links to external sites from Yahoo answers do not pass link love (given "no follow" tags), links directing people to your site can increase readership of your blog, the social bookmarking of your site, and subscriptions to your blog via rss readers. If not at the current time, it is thought that both Google and Yahoo will consider such factors in their algorithms going forward, so get a head start now.

4) Expand your presence in the search results. Yahoo Answers results are being found in the regular Yahoo, Google, and MSN search results. The pages are unlikely to appear high in the search results for highly competitive terms, but can certainly appear for an infinite number of the long tail terms. Once again, Yahoo Answers can drive traffic and business, and can help to establish you the site owner as an authority in the space online. Accordingly, keyword optimize your questions and/or answers on Yahoo Answers to target specific "long tail" terms.

All in all, the overall effort shouldn't require a great deal of your time. In fact, the time needed will often be a direct function of the amount of potential. You still choose which questions you wish to pose or answer based on perceived potential. In essence, after a month or two of engaging in the recommended tactics above, you will get a feel for how to optimize your own effort for maximum impact.

Once you've found your groove with Yahoo Answers, you may then want to look at a few other (albeit less popular) Answers services, namely QnA.live.com by MSN, and Wiki.Answers.com.

So, go forth and answer!