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How to Boost Your Local Business Visibility with Question Research and Optimization

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Question-based queries help guide your content strategy and dominate Google’s featured snippet top spot, so it’s important to have a full understanding of what your customers and prospective clients are asking. Ann Smarty takes us through some of the best question research tools available, and the steps required to help you increase your local search visibility.

With new technology, new ways of searching, and new tools processing data, your optimization strategy should innovate.

Question research is one of those newer tactics that should become part of your search optimization routine.

Why Research and Optimize for Questions? 1. Niche questions help you understand and consequently serve your target client better

Question research can give you a great deal of insight into your target audience’s conflicts and how to serve them better. Questions are easier to relate to than keywords, so building content around questions is much easier than house content around keywords. By nature, questions are much more inspiring than keyword matching which induces them the perfect content ideation source.

2. Niche questions help you optimize for featured snippets and consequently voice search opportunities

As we already know, most queries triggering featured snippets are questions. Optimizing for questions means optimizing for featured snippets.

Furthermore, including questions in your content is also a great way to optimize for voice search because people tend to talk to a smart device in full sentences( more often than not, those are interrogative sentences ).

Voice Search Questions

Question research and optimization helps you optimize for both featured snippets and voice search.

3. Niche questions streamline your customer support and local marketing management

Question research helps local industries create a unified resource of all relevant issues, which builds customer support much more productive. It also makes in-house training and outsourcing easier because having a well-organized knowledge base can become the perfect educate material.

The goal is to turn your website into an ultimate resource, so that your client is more likely to find their answers there, rather than going around the forums to ask their questions there.

How to Research Niche and Local Questions

Before we start getting tactical here, let’s categorize questions that may potentially be useful for your local business 😛 TAGEND

Location-based questions: These are generic questions around your location that could help your business be discovered even when your target client isn’t necessarily interested in your product or service just yet. These questions build local brand acquaintance and results, and sometimes direct conversions too. Business-based questions: These are actual questions your current or future clients are asking about your business and products. Competitor-based questions: These are questions people are asking about your competitor( s ). These are useful for many research purposes, from gaining competitive edge( learning how to build a better product/ offering) to learning to avoid your competitors’ mistakes.

Based on the types of questions we are researching, here are some tools and tactics you can use to collect information and data 😛 TAGEND Tools for Researching Location-based Questions

Depending on what it is you are doing, your specific question research may differ a bit, but this can generally be approached as the local keyword research you are already doing.

The easiest tool to start your research is Text Optimizer, which utilizes semantic research to analyze Google search snippets and extract pertained theories and questions. Simply put your place in TextOptimizer’s” Topic Ideas” tab and scroll through the popular questions it’s extracted 😛 TAGEND

Text Optimizer Questions

Other sources of question-based keyword research include 😛 TAGEND

The’ Questions’ section inside Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer The Answer The Public tool The’ People Also Ask’ report inside Featured Snippet Tool Serpstat’s ‘Questions’ feature

Depending on how large your target place is, you may want to use as many tools as you see fit. If you use a lot of sources and hence generate a lot of( similar) questions, use Serpstat’s keyword clustering feature to categorize them by relevancy and then form an actionable plan on how to implement them( as well as how to more easily identify those that match the local business best ):

Serpstat Cluster

Serpstat groups keywords based on how many overlapping URLs rank for each specific query, constructing it easy to make sense of long keyword lists

Tool for Researching Navigational( Brand- and Competitor-focused) Questions

There are several ways to collect questions around your and your challengers, and it’s a good idea to employ all that apply 😛 TAGEND

Your company’s own customer support emails( foster your customer support and sales teams to record these use a shared document) Your online reviews and customers’ questions Your online challengers’ reviews and their clients’ questions Twitter question monitoring, particularly for bigger brands. Type [” business name” ?]( with the space in between) in Twitter’s search box to get the real-time feed of all questions around you or your challengers

Local brand monitoring

How to Optimize Your Local Business Site for Questions

Now that you have a good list of questions that relate to the local business you’re working with, what exactly should you be doing with it?

I’m glad you asked. Here you go 😛 TAGEND Step 1: Get Coordinated

Running the clustering analysis is the first step to getting those questions organized. The next step is to create an actionable content roadmap, detailing what to do with each group.

When organizing my keywords or questions in order to put together my content plan, I use the following labels 😛 TAGEND

Search intent( informational, commercial, navigational, or a possible mixture ). Search intent ascertains both the page type( e.g. article or a commercial landing page ), the call-to-action( a’ Buy Now’ button or a lead generation sort) and the on-page content tone Content action( whether it’s going to be new content or part of existing content) Content kinds. Possible content forms when it comes to question optimization include:

Article: This is usually the best option for generic location-based questions FAQ/ Knowledge Base/ Help Center segment: This is usually constructed based on brand-focused questions( both around your own brand and your challengers ). It’s a good idea to keep building this section up on a continuous basis. This will provide the customer services team with a central phase of truth to refer to. Product Q& A: This is a good tactic to get your money-page featured in Google

Seasonality, i.e. if there’s need to day this content asset better:

Organize questions

For seasonal content you can use a spreadsheet to plan that out right away.

Step 2: Optimize content for questions

Now that you’ve created your content scheme, how do you actually optimize your articles? Because featured snippets and voice search are both so important for Google search visibility, building sure your content is optimized for both is very important.

The best way to ensure your page appears in both featured snippets and” People Also Ask” boxes is to create a clear content structure using H2 and H3 subheads 😛 TAGEND

H2 subhead: Parent question# 1 Follow by the concise on-point answer …

H3 “subtopic” question# 1 Followed by the concise on-point answer … H3 “subtopic” question# 2 Followed by the concise on-point answer …

H2 subhead: Parent question# 2 etc.

A structure like this helps Google to quickly locate the answer and feature it as a list in a featured snippet.

Another good tactic is to evaluate the best possible format that could fulfill each question query best. For example, if the issues to is something like” What are the most affordable things to do in XX ?”, it is quite clear that the search user would expect a list in the answer, so that’s what you should create.

Genuinely trying to provide the best possible answer goes a long way in featured snippet optimization.

Step 3: Run the Extra Mile by Implementing Schema Markup

While it’s been made clear structured markup is corroborated not to influence Google’s rankings and their featured snippet algorithm, implementing schema markup is still a good notion( even if one specific kind isn’t yet officially supported by Google ).

Schema.org helps Google understand your site better which is always a good thing.

When it comes to question optimization, the three solid schema.org types to implement are 😛 TAGEND

HowTo schema QAPage schema FAQPage schema

All are already being routinely utilized by Google in order to provide better-structured answers to their users.

Using schema.org markup is easier than you may think( there are a variety of advanced plugins that can handle that for you, and for larger brands, scalable solutions like Schema App are perfect) and even while it may not improve your rankings, it won’t definitely hurt.

Have you been optimizing local business websites for questions? Please share your tips and outcomes!

Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com as well as the founder of Viral Content Bee. Ann has been in internet marketing for more than 10 years, is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal, and is a current contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable.

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