Online Communities - An SEO Dream
It has been a theme of mine since 1998 -
search engines need FOOD.
My definition of food today - Fresh Content that includes relevant and converting keywords. The definition has not changed much in 11 years but the respect online communities are getting makes offering relevant food much easier.
What online communities offer is tons of text-based content - an SEOs dream. It is not a world that is over designed causing barriers to search engines for indexing. It is a world that embraces simplicity. It is a conversation with the visitor and thus with the search engines.
One of the critical pieces that has to be addressed is whether the platform/application used as the base for the community is search friendly. I encourage all community development companies to ensure this is true and then promote it on their sites.
Here are some suggestions for content optimization and some visible examples of excellent implementations:
- Ask Moderators/Community manager to create topics/threads with top keywords discovered during keyword analysis for the company (beautiful example at babycenter community)
- Check and ensure that some keyword-rich content is open to public and that nofollow and noindex tags are NOT used
- Make sure there is a way for Tags and category entries to be added by community (they tend to be relevant words) but you also establish a set of top keywords to use as tags
- Dynamically create meta tags and titles from content written by visitor
- And as always - use a breadcrumb for navigation and to increase keyword density in a user friendly manner
A couple of questions I posed to the audience at Search Engine Strategies New York when the subject of communities and search. The session was the first that discussed this topic at an SES and I hope to be doing it again at SES San Jose in August. [Session Description. Session PowerPoint].
Q1: Community content is super rich but as a company that needs to sell products do you want to drive people deep into the site where there may not be much marketing/selling and maybe even negative stuff going on?
Q2: Do you want to put 'marketing/selling' deep into the site in the forums and communities?
If you have answers you want to share - great.