Because community building isn’t fluffy: enhancing UX, DistilledLive video

Well, look who we found hanging out at the Mack Web Solutions offices! Whilst our former Seattle consultant Geoff has been off “working remotely”, we thought it made sense for both Geoff and Mack to talk about what they both know best: Community and SEO.

Community building isn’t fluffy. Community actually involves SEO. Watch the video below for Mack and Geoff’s update on how community and SEO work together. You can also find the full transcript to the footage below.

Over to you, dear reader

Are you providing a good experience for your user? Is guest posting a good way to speak out to other industries? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or you can find both Mack and Geoff over on Twitter.

DistilledLive | Enhancing UX for your community and SEO

Mack: Hi, this is Mack.

Geoff: And I’m Geoff.

Mack: And we’re here to talk a little bit about community building and...

Geoff: And SEO. Mostly SEO because we’re not really going to talk about the soft and fluffy community building.

Mack: Whatever. We’re going to talk about SEO and community building and then we’re also going to talk a little bit about the experience and then we’re also going to talk about guest blogging and the latest updates with Google and all that stuff that’s going down. That’s the lay of the land for today. Let’s talk first about SEO and community building and how those two work together because community building is not fluffy; it actually involves SEO.

Geoff: We’ll see. Explain this to me, Mac.

Mack: Here’s the deal: the basic gist is you want to always start from goals. Let’s say you have some things that you want to do with your company, which is usually where goals come from, you would set those for the entire company not just for SEO or social media or content or any of those siloed things separately. You want to think about it holistically for your whole company and then you can move from there. When you’re doing that then you can determine the right tools to match with those goals in order to meet them. Most of the time we use things like SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, outreach, in person stuff. There are all kinds of things you can use and it doesn’t all have to be online stuff; it’s whatever it is that’s going to help your company accomplish those goals. SEO fits into that mix.

Geoff: Sure. So maybe SEO fits into it well by really bringing in people to your site, your community and helping expose them to your brand and giving them the opportunity to make them part of your community, to colonize them.

Mack: Very true. That leads really well into the experience part of all this, right? Because if you’re not providing a good experience then people are not going to want to be part of your community or whatever you sell or anything like that. I wanted to talk a little bit about how you’re always wanting to think about building your community and building your business from the inside out. By that I mean you’re always working on improving your products and services, you’re always thinking about ways to become internally more efficient and have better systems and processes, you’re always wanting to talk to your customers and get their feedback. When you’re doing all of those things, inherently you’re going to build a better company, you’re going to attract people to your community and things just naturally come together that way when you’re building that experience around your brand.

Geoff: Experience is important for SEO as well because if you don’t have a good experience on your site, if people come to your site and it has poor UX, it’s just not welcoming, they’re going to leave. It doesn’t even matter that you brought them to your site in the first place.

Mack: That’s very I think we’re in agreement about how everywhere you are in terms of where the experience is happening, whether it’s on social, on your blog, on your website, in person, online, wherever it is that you always have to be working on that experience.

Geoff:     Exactly. Or at least for now.

Mack: Hopefully. That third part we really want to talk about today is a little bit more current news. It’s that whole thing with Google and how they’re ‘penalizing’, I used air quotes, yes, and how they’re looking at guest blogging and whether that’s good or bad. We use guest blogging a lot in terms of a tool or a tactic for building community. So I wanted to get your take on it on the SEO side and then I can share a little bit about how that also helps build community.

Geoff:  I think as you say, guest posting is great for both our goals: it helps with SEO to build links and it helps with community and exposing people to you and the brand. From the SEO side I don’t think that guest posting is something that Google wants to get rid of. When you write for SEOmoz, or Moz now, you’re adding value, you’re helping their users understand something new and strange and different. Like community. So there’s a lot of value and Google wouldn’t want that to go away. I don’t think. They don’t want sites offering less value to users because they’re afraid of [inaudible 0:04:43] Google. I think as long as you’re keeping it topically focused, keeping it relevant to your business, again, to talk about you and Moz, writing about community on Moz is great. It’s a good fit with inbound marketing, SEO and everything else you write about.

As long as you have that focus and you really want to do something that will be of interest to your business and what you have to say is of interest to someone else’s readers then that’s great. I’m not concerned about a few off topic links, either from my blog to someone else’s site or coming into my site from a different blog because that’s normal. That’s just how the web works; you get random links all the time. When it’s something of concern and something I think Google would start to action on is when most of your site’s back link profile is from these off topic sites or you have links from guest posting sites where all the content they have is guest posts and there’s no consistent theme or topic with that site. It’s just like this mash up of whoever will give them content and they’ll let them link to wherever, whether it’s casinos or sports or whatever. They don’t care; they just want the content. If you’re guest posting on sites like that, yeah, that can be dangerous for you. Same thing with exact matching of anchor text. If you’re going out there and doing guest posting to build a ton of exact match anchor text that’s something that’ll probably come back to you later and could cause problems.

Mack: This really brings it back to the experience piece we were talking about earlier and the fact that if you’re doing that just for the sake of getting links then obviously you’re not providing any value; you’re not enhancing the experience. But also, on the other side of that when you’re building community, especially for companies who are starting from nothing they think they actually have to start from nothing but that’s not true. If you leverage a community like Moz and you say, ‘That’s a community I can contribute a lot of value to’ and obviously you can get a lot of value from, then that would be a great place to guest post, guest blog because you’re contributing to that community and it’s relative [sic] there.

Now you’ve put yourself into maybe a newer audience that you haven’t quite targeted before. Stepping outside of Moz it would be really important to do some audience targeting and figuring out those other places, those other quality blogs, those other quality forums for you to get in front of and say, ‘I have some value to share, I have some information to offer that’s really useful to you.’ Not self promotional and then you attract that audience to your community and now you’ve become part of their community. So it’s a win-win on both sides.

Geoff: Exactly. Good for SEO and good for community. I never thought I’d say it.

Mack: We work together.

Geoff: Thanks for talking with us and come see us at SearchLove in September in San Diego.

Mack: Both Geoff and I are speaking there and we would love you to come and have a vacation. And come to a conference.

Geoff: And learn something.

Cheri Percy

Cheri Percy

Cheri joined Distilled as a community intern and now heads up the Marketing department in the London office. She has co-ordinated and project managed some of Distilled's biggest content pieces to date and has doubled its social media growth.  When...   read more

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