There was a time not too long ago when keyword density and backlinks were two of the most critical SEO tactics to drive searchers to your website. Those days are over. If you’re looking to improve your search engine rankings and increase traffic and conversions for your online community platform, you now need to marry your SEO strategy with effective content generation.1 Why? Because according to the leading SEO service providers at Moz, “SEO isn't just about building search engine-friendly websites. It's about making your site better for people too.”2
Here are three steps that will make your online community friendly to both search engines AND your users.
Step 1: Encourage User-Generated Content (UGC)
Above all else, there is no better traffic-driving tactic than creating an environment that encourages users to produce content that is useful and authentic. Because it’s written by real people for real people, UGC is highly relevant to your audience, making it pure gold for SEO. It also uses natural language and real terms, not marketing jargon, that people would normally type in a search engine.
Encouraging UGC is a challenging tactic because your community members don’t work for you. Luckily there are ways to incentivize participation without providing monetary compensation or offering prizes.
Create specific boards about topics that interest your super users—customers want to talk to each other about subjects that interest them.
Give people a list or guide of what topics to post about and how to post so they feel like they can easily create valuable content.
Step 2: Find Your Keywords
While many search marketers point to the dwindling significance of individual keywords, they still have their place in helping search engines figure out what your pages are all about.3 Here are a few of the many ways to find the best keywords for your online community platform.
Monitor Performance with Google Search Console
An excellent place to start keyword research is your own website. Use
Google Search Console to find which queries cause your site to appear in search results, then expand upon these topics in your community content plan.
Use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Tactics to Complement SEO
Because what works for PPC often works for SEO, determine which of your ads are resulting in the most conversions. Then create topics around the keywords from those ads.4
Analyze Site Search
By analyzing the terms found in your site search logs, you’ll reveal what types of content customers are looking for, making it easy to identify if there is content you may not already be providing.5
Step 3: Make Your Site Friendly to Search Engine Users
Once you’ve found your keywords, it’s time to deploy the following techniques to entice users to click on your search results.
Use a Unique Title to Describe the Page
According to Moz, “title tags are displayed on search engine results pages as the clickable headline for a given result, and are important for usability, SEO, and social sharing.”6 The optimal length is under 60 characters with the format: Primary Keyword - Secondary Keyword | Brand Name.7
Sell the Page with a Meta Description
If you want users to click on your search result, keep your meta description “within 160 characters, and write it to catch the user's attention.”8
Add a Well-Crafted URL
When searchers are deciding which link to click, the URL plays a big part in their decision. Include keywords and match them to titles, and again, provide a clear idea of what the page is about.9
Organic search-referred traffic to branded online communities averages 68% higher than that of websites.10
In a sample of Lithium’s retail customers, the average percentage of community traffic from organic search was 62%, while the average percentage of website traffic from organic search was 37%. This means that organic search-referred traffic to Lithium’s retail customers’ online communities averages 68% higher than that of their websites. Don’t overlook the power a community platform plays in driving traffic. Learn more about How Community Puts the Turbo in Your SEO and How to Build an Online Community Your Customers Will Love.