If you have visited our blog before, you probably have a good understanding of the benefits of online communities – such as increasing brand loyalty through customer support, increasing productivity, and more. But there is another huge benefit that tends to be overlooked when considering starting an online community – how it can boost rankings for search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is a methodology of strategies, techniques, and tactics used to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) – including Google, Bing, and Yahoo. SEO is big business. Companies pay for advertisements and expert employees to boost their rankings. When SEO is done right, it results in increased website visibility and traffic that directly converts to more leads and a higher probability of more customers.
So, let’s dive into how your online community can turbocharge your SEO rankings.
1. More (Relevant) Content
Content is king! Many items affect SEO, but Moz and several other industry leaders agree that relevant content is a major driver in SEO rankings, as long as you don’t try to game it. And since your users are creating the content, the overwhelming majority of new content will be relevant.
Relevant content is important for SEO because the goal of an SEO strategy is to think like a user. Begin by considering what queries someone would search to find your page and how you can increase the visibility of that page. That’s exactly why a community is a goldmine for SEO because community members are creating your new content in a way that is relevant to other community members.
This means that there is an increased likelihood of other users searching for the same queries to land on your page.
2. Increased Content Freshness
Going hand-in-hand with the importance of adding more content is adding fresh content. Google needs a reason to send crawlers out to your site. Typically, key drivers are the creation of new pages and/or posts. You could rely on a blog, news articles, and the occasional new page creation to keep your website relevant in Google’s system, or you could deploy an online community and watch the number of new pages grow exponentially and, more importantly, continuously with minimal oversight from your employees.
Let your followers do the work for you. In a thriving community, your members are adding pages regularly, navigating across your site, and sharing content. Google is going to notice that your community is thriving and boost your reputation in the most important way – in search results. Sure, your marketing team is brilliant, but this kind of engagement cannot be replicated.
3. NEW (User-Defined) Keywords
The creation of new and fresh content for your community sparks the creation of new keywords. New pages with new keywords increase the likelihood of a user searching for different queries and landing on your site.
Think of your site as a web. The more chances that you have to catch a potential customer, the better.
4. More (Relevant) Links
SEO places a big weight on your site’s link structure. Internal, external, and backlinks are all heavily factored into SEO rank. Let your audience elevate all of these in a relevant way through your online community.
- Internal – Automate adding internal links by linking to related topics on each page of content. This increases your SEO ranking while giving your users more information on a particular subject and increasing their engagement on your site.
- External – Let your audience help you with your outbound links. Linking to authoritative pages shows Google that you are actively trying to increase knowledge amongst your community. This positively affects your SEO score.
- Backlinks – Become an authoritative page by having your users link to your community and share your content. One common mistake is to send all of your backlinks to your homepage (typically due to news articles, blog posts, and press releases). It’s much more beneficial to share the wealth.
Not all links are created equal. Be careful about how you earn them. White hat SEO techniques, like online communities, are rewarded while black hat SEO, techniques, such as purchasing links, can land you in Google’s doghouse.
5. More Traffic to Your Domain
Traffic is a debated topic in regards to whether it’s a direct factor in determining your SEO ranking. But, regardless of whether Google can use your analytics data directly in its algorithm, more traffic on your website can only improve your SEO rankings.
Online communities act as a place to facilitate interaction and engagement. They entice new users to join and promote the return of existing users. As mentioned above, new users create new content – a big advantage for SEO initiatives. Why wouldn’t you want these people to interact with your domain? An increase in the amount of traffic to your site boosts your domain’s health and increases the likelihood of members sharing your content and linking to it.
The benefits of online communities extend farther than your customer support center. Don’t overlook or underestimate the power of community platforms in regard to your marketing strategy. Think about it this way, it would take a team of marketers dedicated solely to SEO and content building to achieve what an online community can do for a fraction of the cost.