Traditionally companies implement advertising and marketing campaigns, apply PR strategies to enhance and grow the brand.
However, did you know that building your own community can also be a great move for your brand? A robust online community helps you improve your search engine ranking, adds value to your business, and helps you achieve business goals (from customer success to product innovation). In this article, we're going to specifically focus on SEO and branding.
Every business strives hard and does what it takes to improve SEO and top the search engine results pages (SERPs). For instance, you may host your customer and audience group on popular social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. But they impose restrictions on your SEO activities -- search engines can't crawl or index the content.
To control optimization, build your own online community in a space that you own. Reputable brands such as Pipedrive and Convertkit have their own communities. Also, many of the companies from traditional industries are building brand communities. When you set up and own the digital space, you can control:
Community UI/UX design
Interactions with consumers
If you're considering an online community to enhance your SEO and branding, keep reading for the best practices on how to succeed.
What is an online community?
A brand-led online community is a group of people within your target audience who come together under your branded online space to collaborate and help each other. When customers get a platform to express their opinions and meet fellow brand followers, they cultivate a sense of belonging. This leads to more customer retention. The feedback you’ll gain through your community also helps you in understanding the pros and cons of your products and make improvements accordingly.
Over the last few years, there has been a steady growth in online community participation. In 2019, 76% of internet users were already engaged in online forums, blogs, and/or vlogs.
The user-generated content indexed by search engines like Google boosts the content visibility. This in turn generates a wide variety of PR opportunities (depending on the popularity of your community and the kind of content). Also, if you can moderate your community effectively and ensure that high-quality content gets published regularly, it boosts the probability of improved search ranking.
5 ways your community can help SEO and branding
A thriving online community gives you much more control over SEO factors. It elevates your brand as a humanized brand and showcases how customers are using your product. This creates powerful social proof and boosts the trust in your brand.
Here are the ways your community can help SEO and branding, and how to make the most of them.
1. Keywords in content, URL, and title tag
When customers write posts in your brand community space, they’re likely to use relevant keywords related to your business and niche. When your customers use Google to search for those terms, all this organic keyword use will help you get featured at the top of the SERPs.
Page titles and post URLs should also contain the relevant keywords (though keep it organic and avoid keyword-stuffing, which can hurt your rank). An online brand community is a great platform for your brand followers to have detailed discussions containing keywords that your potential customers are likely to search for.
For example, when an online community enables discussion, the crowd-sourced content generally covers topics from various points of view. This leads to comprehensive content coverage and inclusion of LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords.
LSI keywords are instrumental in enabling search engines to understand the content coverage of a webpage.
A good SEO campaign also involves earning links from trustworthy sites and engaging with people who have the power to influence others. Interacting with your followers via your community helps you to build links, get your content shared more widely, and attract the attention of relevant influencers.
Check out this post to get an understanding of the 10 major SEO factors for your community.
2. Generating fresh user-generated content
Fresh content is one of the important search engine ranking factors and user-generated content (UGC) plays a key role in this. UGC can range from customer reviews, Q&A to photos and videos of customers using your products.
When your community is in the initial phase with fewer members, your internal team will need to be heavily active in seeding content. This encourages new people to start contributing and fires the content generation cycle.
But even when your community is busy and thriving, you must keep nurturing it if you want that stream of content to keep coming. Being a community manager means looking after content maintenance and continually striving to keep the conversation going. Also, another factor element lies in the ability to remove low-quality content and encourage users to post high-quality unique content.
There’s another advantage to UGC, too. 90% of US consumers rate online recommendations from other users as highly influential for their purchasing decisions. Therefore, a highly engaging community that churns fresh content acts as a vote of confidence for your brand and encourages new customers to give you a try.
3. Creating brand loyalty
Apart from SEO, a brand-led community can be instrumental for customer loyalty. The key here is to know your audience and followers as well as you can. They help your brand build trust in a crowded marketplace, so it pays to make sure they are happy being a part of your community. Engage positively and ensure you’re listening, responding, and always providing value.
Here’s an example: Corepower Yoga is much more than a chain of yoga studios. It’s also an online community that offers virtual classes, live online events such as webinars, and a blog packed with valuable information.
All of this engagement and high-quality content makes it easy for customers, fans, and community members to share the company’s content. There’s no wonder Corepower Yoga has over 140,000 backlinks and a Domain Rating of 74.
If your community focuses on customers, it will naturally boost loyalty and continue to thrive.
4. Feedback and ideation
Your brand community is a great source of fresh ideas, feedback, and information. The members share ideas and give feedback on your products or services -- it helps you understand the pros and cons of your offering. Considering their reviews and ideas, you can continually improve. So aim to offer an excellent experience to customers and encourage them to share feedback as well as their experience.
If you want to up your SEO game even further, seek reviews from influencers and those with a large following in your industry. This builds links as well as increases trust for your brand.
Check out the blogs and websites that have reviewed your competitors’ products and services, then get in touch with those bloggers to invite them to test and review your product. Tell them what makes your product different from others in the market - its key features, benefits, and USP.
Crowdsourced review forums like Yelp also help your brand perform better in organic searches. Reviews on these platforms tend to be honest and unfiltered. You can use your online community to encourage your fans to leave their honest reviews on the relevant forum.
5. Improve the user experience
When you build the perfect online brand community, it helps in improving the user experience (UX) on your website significantly. Great UX promotes customer engagement, and can improve conversion rates by a whopping 400%!
This increase in engagement brings new visitors to your site and encourages existing fans to keep returning. Customer engagement levels and URL popularity are also two search engine ranking factors. So work on offering a better user experience to users to improve SEO.
Here are a few UX tips to ensure your community is as good as it can be:
Use a simple navigation menu that takes users directly to the page they want.
Evaluate the needs and preferences of community users
Ensure trending pages and crucial information are front and center.
Break up blocks of text with bullet points, lists, and paragraph breaks.
Use an attractive and easy-to-read color scheme.
Use plenty of visual and video content in addition to text.
A clear and easily understandable call to action (CTA) matters as it is directly proportional to engagement and conversion rates. When designing the CTA, ensure it stands out on the page and tells customers clearly what they should do next. Examples of good CTAs are “Join the Community” and "Join the Discussion".
Build your own brand community to boost SEO and branding
Brands across the world are constantly competing with each other to achieve and maintain top SERP positions. Regardless of the quality of your products and services, your brand will struggle to succeed if it cannot get in front of the right users at the right time. That’s where SEO and strong branding come in.
With a well-built and well-managed online brand community, you can make a big difference to your business. You can give exposure to your brand, increase your customer outreach, and rise to the top of search engine results.
Whether you are building a brand new community or working on an already existing platform, consider the size and goals of your business. And remember to give it time - none of these strategies will succeed overnight. Now that you know how to improve your SEO and branding via your community, it’s time to start implementing these tactics to take your brand to new heights.
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