If you have ever taken a peek at your analytics, it's quite likely you have seen that more than 25% of your traffic is coming from search engines. It almost seems like common wisdom to use a blog to help with your inbound marketing. And why not? It works well. There are also many proponents who suggest you use Social Media, like Twitter and Facebook to help you drive traffic. Social media is great for awareness, but the jury is still out on it's SEO value. But where does this leave a branded community?
Adding A Community To Your Marketing Mix
Just as a Blog is second nature to your business to engage customers, a community not only brings true customer engagement, it can also bring increased SEO Traffic. The following are just some ways a community can help SEO & Traffic:
- Customer language: When a customer writes on your forum, they are using customer language. They are not using SEO speak, technical jargon or the thoughts of your marketing department. They are asking real questions and phrasing things the way a searcher in Google or Bing would.
- SEO friendly structure: A little secret you might not be aware, most forums do not need SEO help or plugins. They do not need sitemaps. The structure of a forum, by nature, is easy for a robot to crawl.
- Fresh content: It's hard to publish new blog content 2-3 times a day, let alone 2-3 times a week. A healthy forum will have fresh content all day long.
- Engagement: When people are on social media, they can get distracted by other items in their stream. When a customer comes to your community, they are on your platform. They are likely to look at more pages and more content and share links to your content to their social network, blog or elsewhere.
- Shareablity: Forum posts are easy to share. Not only will link sharing help your SEO, it will also likely lead to engagement of new users.
Before You Leap
A forum is not a panacea, though. Before you get going on a community consider the the following:
- Do you have the right team in place? A forum will require someone to manage/moderate the community.
- Buy in from your team/company? Someone will need to answer questions or be the guru when you get going. Nothing is more depressing than seeing a community with lots of questions and no response from the company. Sure a moderator can do some work in keeping things on track, but you will need a product expert or a support person to keep an eye on things.
- Are people likely to engage? If you have a business where people engage with you already, it will make things a lot easier. For example, do you get many likes on your Facebook page?
- Do you have the right type of business to do this? There are very few businesses that would not have a topic which is suitable for a community. Sometimes it takes creativity. As long as people are able to talk about your company/product/service or reach out to your support team, you have can create a community!
- Do you have a plan? Just like with a website, just putting it up does not mean you will get traffic. Do you have a marketing plan roll out? Beta testers? Email blasts? How will you get the ball rolling? How will you keep them coming back?
With the right team and planning, a community can be a great way to create user generated content and increase your SEO traffic.
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