When we think about SEO, we tend to think about Google. Creating backlinks, driving traffic, pumping out comment, and keyword research. All of these things are important.
When we think about building an online community we think about forums, message boards, blogging, and social media. All of these things are also important.
What if I told you that you could combine the two and incorporate SEO into your community building efforts? When you think about it, it makes perfect sense and it isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
The problem with SEO is that it sometimes takes the humanity out of the equation. Too often, SEO “experts” focus on the nuts and bolts of the operation. They pore over analytics, data, and keyword reports trying to game the system or optimize your content with just the right amount of letters, words, and structure.
While all of that is useful, it sometimes forgets who the content is supposed to be for in the first place and that’s your community.
Your community is your greatest asset
Your online community are your biggest fans, supporters, and promoters. They’re the ones who share your content, make recommendations, participate in forums, write reviews, and more. Any content marketing strategy is focused on attracting and cultivating these individuals.
If you don’t want to take my word for it, listen to online visibility giant, Moz.com which knows a thing or two about search engine optimization:
“Combining your SEO and Community efforts means you’re building relationships with people, not just ranking higher. You’re investing in your future by ensuring that you have those brand advocates, link builders, content sharers, etc. for years to come” Jen Sable Lopez, Director of Community @Moz
Moz demonstrates the commitment to “the human element.” Focusing on building relationships with people and not just the raw numbers. This is the commitment to community building that can help increase your visibility, promote brand awareness, and pay dividends for years to come.
How to do it?
Link building is a great strategy, but it can happen organically through effective community building such as:
- Creating platforms for engagement: social profiles, blogs, forums
- Create useful content that will attract links from the community
- Creating content with unique URLs that can be linked to
As your content grows and is shared, discussion begins on forums and across social media. Your content is picked up and distributed across more platforms and by more people.
Soon, your community discussions will begin to rank on Google and will appear in organic searches. This creates quality links to your content and your site and best of all you’re not paying monthly ad costs.
The heart of content marketing
Content marketing is about creating community. With a focus towards generating fresh, original content that your audience can get excited about. While you’re creating that content and growing your community by sharing and linking, at the same time, you’re cultivating a community of ardent supporters who love your brand.
What if I told you that you could begin creating a community of hundreds, if not thousands of people that love your company, engages with other people on your behalf, and publicly champions your brand?
And they’ll expect nothing in return except for you to create more great content and allow them the opportunity and platform to continue?
And many the occasional shout-out or retweet.
Twenty years ago you’d have written a blank check and handed it over to anyone who said they could deliver that.
Well, it’s here. And it has no monthly ad costs, no printing or production costs, and no salary.
Chicken or the Egg?
So what comes first? The SEO that helps the community? Or the community that helps the SEO?
The truth is, they help each other out.
Content + engagement + links = better visibility. Better visibility = more engagement, more members of the community, and the cycle continues.
When the focus is on building relationships with people instead of bots, and promoting yourself to humans instead of ranking lists, your SEO and your community will work hand in hand to increase your visibility.
Like anything related to SEO or content marketing, it will take time to grow. But it’s definitely worth the wait.