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What’s Your Online Quiz IQ?

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Synopsis – Link building is one of the basic building blocks of search engine optimization and there are many different techniques for attracting links to your website and seeking links out from others. But one technique that is not often discussed is quiz marketing as a means of attracting links to your site.

Garrett French, in his article “What’s Your Online Quiz IQ?” discusses the background of the use of quizzes as online linkbait, how quizzes can help you enlarge your linking empire, and explores the whole question of whether or not quiz marketing is worth investing some time in.

Garrett completes his analysis with a comprehensive, nine-point guide that will take novice quiz builders through the initial planning stages through implementation and tracking of the results. Pertinent tips surrounding each point of the exercise help you avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with these increasingly popular widget-type pieces of content.

Whether you choose to invoke humor (like the legendary Matt Inman aka The Oatmeal does in his interactive quizzes – example: the 10 question dinosaur wrestling quiz below) or you offer serious information in an educational manner), there’s no doubt that people’s curiosity is piqued by such content. Experience shows that users are willing to share and link to quizzes that impress them. For those whose websites make use of informational, non-sales content, and especially those whose space includes the use of widgets, quizzes may be just the ticket for boosting those all-important linking opportunities.

The complete article follows …

What’s Your Online Quiz IQ?

Online quizzes are nothing new. Poke around through the SERPs for “personality quiz,” and you will find anything from 100-plus-question personality quizzes revealing your inner workings for $50 all the way to free quizzes that gather your email address before showing results.

Quizzes stormed onto the link-building stage in 2007 when former SEOmoz developer Matt Inman created a number of quirky, wildly popular quizzes. His first hit — “How Geek Are You?” — earned over 80,000 links for his free dating site. When Matt discussed his tactics, however, Google applied massive penalties to his sites for the links he built. Why? In Google’s words (according to Inman), his quizzes were “off topic widget tricks.”

Because they pose such a link-building opportunity — and engage site visitors for several minutes with branded content — every marketer should consider experimenting with on-topic quizzes. But how exactly do they work for link building?

How Quizzes Build Links

Personality-style quizzes build links in two ways. First, as with any engaging piece of content, they earn links from other content creators sharing them with their site visitors. The second way is through results badges awarded at the end of a quiz. Quiz takers can display them by copying and pasting code that contains your link.

Intriguing quiz titles, engaging questions, and pasteworthy badges all combine to make a successful quiz. Before diving in, however, you need to determine whether it’s really going to be worth all the work.

Is Quiz Marketing Worth Your Time?

Even a simple quiz marketing experiment using existing software can take 4–6 hours to create and even more time to distribute. If you design and program it yourself, you could be looking at ten times that investment. Before sinking time and effort into quiz marketing, it’s important to determine whether it will work for you.

What are your goals for quiz marketing? Quizzes can build links, online buzz, and visitor engagement (e.g., time on a page, increased newsletter clickthroughs). Knowing which of these you want to achieve helps at all stages of quiz creation.

How quickly do you want to reach these goals? — Quizzes, especially your first efforts, will have a very modest impact on your goals. Quizzes are content, and your ability to reach your goals with them depends on your understanding of your audience. Expect a learning curve, and don’t look to quiz marketing as a “get links quick” method.

Do you already use content to engage your audience? — Your ability to drive links, buzz, and engagement with quizzes rests in your ability to engage your target audience with content. If your articles and blog posts already attract links and traffic, that’s a good sign you understand your audience well enough to write a quiz that performs well. If you don’t already use informational, non-sales content to engage your audience, quizzes are not appropriate for your site.

What are the content expectations of your visitors? — It’s possible to create a personality-style quiz on any topic. However, if your site visitors have no expectation of “fun” content, don’t bother with quizzes. In certain cases, it may work to surprise your visitors with fun or quirky quizzes, but remain relentlessly on-topic and relevant to your website context.

How connected are you with your industry’s media? — Have you exchanged email, links, or even content with other media sites in your space before? Do you already have social media site distribution set up for your content? Do you have a targeted email list for your site? Your ability to spread the word about your quiz — and the trust you’ve established with other media creators in your space — will determine how quickly your quiz builds links.

Are widgets used in your space? — If your industry’s media space includes bloggers and social network members who add widgets to their pages, you could see considerable traction with quiz marketing. If your space has bloggers and social network activity, but no widgets, you will have to do a great deal more outreach to get people to create links to your site. If there are very few blogs or other content sites related to your industry, don’t look to quizzes for link building. They will still provide site visitor engagement, however.

A Quick Guide To Creating Your First Marketing Quiz

If you’ve determined that experimenting with quiz marketing is worth your time, and you are ready to write your first quiz, here is an overview of the quiz-building process.

1. Brainstorm Quiz Ideas — If you write regularly for your site, start with your usual sources of inspiration. Next, open up your analytics program and see which content engages visitors for the longest time. Determine which pages on your site have already received the most links (with a tool like LinkDiagnosis.com), as previous links are a powerful indicator of subject matter that will make great quizzes. If you’ve already spent time thinking up linkbait topics, revisit this list for inspiration.

2. Pick A Goal-Based Topic — Quizzes build links, buzz, and engage your visitors. With these ends in mind, refine your list of quiz ideas down to one or two you would like to test. At this time, begin crafting your quiz’s title. It should be intriguing and incite your site visitors to become quiz takers.

3. Determine Quiz-Making Back-End — If you have development skills or employ developers, you can build your own quiz framework around the concept that best meets your goals. If you need to work with quiz-building applications that enable you to post the quiz directly on your site, do some research to find the one best suiting your needs. For example, if you want to increase buzz and site engagement, an e-learning style of quiz software such as that created by Articulate.com should work nicely.

4. Define Quiz Results — Your quiz results (the badge categories) are the most important aspect in developing highly pasteworthy badges in multi-result quizzes. Creating the result descriptions first also helps you to write your questions. For your first quiz, keep quiz results to a minimum — three is best. Create clever, colorful names for your results and write short blurbs for each that help the quiz taker to communicate and/or enforce his or her personality.

5. Optimize Results Badges — Ideally, the graphics and text of your results badges encourage posting by being funny, creative, and relevant to quiz taker personalities. To increase the likelihood of posting, make sure the graphics used fit naturally on the websites of your target audience. Depending on the application you’re using, consider exactly where you want the badge’s text link to point. Sometimes it’s best to link to different pages on your site from each badge, aligning the badge result text with the context of the page linked to.

6. Write Questions And Answers — Seven to fifteen short questions keep the quiz taker’s energy up and makes sure they get all the way through the quiz. If you only have three results for the quiz, then write each question so there are only three possible answers. This makes it simple to apply points from each answer to the appropriate result, so your quiz provides accurate results.

7. Publish And Test — Publish your test to the site you’re promoting and run through it to make sure it’s scoring accurately. Have a friend take the quiz and provide feedback. Polish your efforts before you begin promotion. For the most impact, place the quiz on your site.

8. Distribute — It requires effort to find takers willing to either link to the quiz itself or copy and paste your results. In the power tool space, I’ve built links with quizzes by emailing them to bloggers and publishing them in an email newsletter. Use Twitter, your social network, and any social media distribution you can leverage. I’ve considered using paid search to drive quiz takers, but haven’t experimented with this yet.

9. Measure Results — How well does your quiz build links, buzz, and visitor engagement? Track inlinks from badges and inlinks directly to your quiz page. Track how long visitors spend on your page, and what percent make it from your quiz page to the results page. Of those who get to the results page, what percent post their results badge? If your quiz is mentioned in a forum, how do people describe its accuracy and what do they say about it in general? Track all of this information and use it when creating your next quiz.

Anyone can write a quiz, but it takes extra planning and effort to make a quiz work in the online space. Follow the tips in this article and you’ll be on your way to using this catchy tactic to build links and buzz for your site.

About the Author

Garrett French educates SEO and PR teams on content and engagement-based link building strategies that drive targeted referral traffic and deliver SERP domination. Learn more about him and his services at CitationLabs.com.

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