Lee Odden

How Community Building Boosts SEO

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media

community seo A while back I had a Twitter discussion with a few smart Minnesota based marketers, @cbensen, @albertmaruggi and @bestbuyCMO about the importance of customer service and community building that turned to a variety of ancillary benefits. Connie mentioned that community building is a long term investment that continues to pay dividends. Albert pointed out that SEO & community building can be 2 separate tactics with SEO having nothing to do with community. Barry wanted more of an explanation, which motivated this long overdue post.

An increasing number community managers have become visible within social media sites like Twitter, on blogs and Facebook from various sized companies. We’ve even interviewed people with those types of responsibilities from Dell and Comcast.  I’ve been thinking about how the content creation and outreach efforts of a community manager can also be of benefit to an organization’s search engine optimization efforts. 

My opinion is that it would actually take extra effort to make community building work and not realize the positive effects for SEO.  Many search engine optimization consultants that engage social media channels have noticed how their efforts resulted in community building effects.  Building up profiles on various social media sites and participating in communities to share and promote content attract links, but it also builds trust.  

It makes perfect sense for off page SEO efforts to involve community building but as @TysonFoods mentioned recently, the best person to work in that capacity is a someone within the company, not an agency. That is a topic for another post though.

Community building with SEO effects in mind isn’t so different than Public Relations or Interactive Marketing with SEO in mind. Content + links = better search visibility. That’s simplifying things a bit, but you can get more search engine optimization basics here.

Community building with SEO benefits typically involves:

  • Monitoring brand terms as well as keywords important to the organization using a social media monitoring tool
  • Create content and interaction destinations: blogs, social profiles
  • Content with unique urls can be linked to
  • Content that is optimized with keywords and proper IA is good for search engines and good for users
  • Content that is relevant and useful will attract links from those empowered to publish (bloggers, blog commenters, forums, consumer reviews, consumer generated content such as images, video, audio)

Social media monitoring is keyword based as is SEO.  Socia media monitoring counts links and SEO builds links.  Encouraging or “energizing” evangelists of a brand also builds content ala CGM and attracts links.  Some of those links go directly to the evangelists’ own content and some will go to the brand itself. Search engines discover and follow these links and when factoring in context and keywords used, will use that information when sorting documents in search results. ie, Content + links = better search visibility.

My question for community managers is, are you leveraging any SEO keyword research and insight to assist word choice when building profiles, creating content and outreach online?  I would not suggest any kind of overt keyword usage that wouldn’t otherwise make sense, but becoming better informed about keywords in a search context can add to the bottom line results of your efforts. And in this economy, who doesn’t want to show more value for their efforts?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.