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February 27, 2008

SEO & User Generated Content

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Last session of the day, thank the good Lord. And what do you know, I have been sent here to cover a session where little Becs Kelley is speaking. Muahaha, let the evil commentary begin!

Vanessa Fox is moderating this afternoon with speakers Andrew Goodman (Page Zero Media), Rebecca Kelley (SEOmoz) and Roget Monti (Martinibuster.com). Chris Winfield (10e20) will be acting as Q&A moderator.

Up first is Roger Monti. Lots of claps.

Optimizing a Forum

  • Goals:

    • Attract more users via search: Make your community site more useful. You want to bring in new users, not just cater to the lifers. Optimizing will help you improve ranking ability, improve long tail phrase performance, raise CTR with better title and description, make your site easier to research and browse, and improve user retention.
    • Improve User Friendliness: Moderate topic titles. "I’m a noobie" doesn’t help you rank. Optimizing your titles makes it easier for people to do research and improves site navigation. Remove all links to fluff. Again, this will improve the navigation and helps to keep users focused on content creation.
    • Improve Site Usefulness: Too much fluff distracts.
  • Remove Fluff: This includes links to site visitors stats, links to member profiles, and from moderator profiles. Direct the bots to pages that matter. You want to maximize PR flow and help pages rank better. Also tightens focus of topics. Remove sub forum links as well.
    The exception is when member pages have useful content and encourage members to become more productive.
  • Target KeywordsAssociate topic titles with title tag and the Meta Description. It won’t do that out of the box. Moderate topic titles so they contain descriptive text/keywords. Hard code pet keywords into main page of your forum.

    Fun Forum Hacks: Site Map Generator for phpBB (http:://www.phpbbhacks.com/download/4902) and RSS Feed Generator.

  • Moderate for Search and Users

Andrew Goodman is up and my fingers are burning. I can has cookie now?
It’s hard to get noticed these days. The bar has been raised

If Yelp has 400,000 relevant inbound links, 1,000 semi-relevant links aren’t going to cut it. Getting indexed doesn’t help you rank…think of how much "duplicate content" is out there on things like raw business listings.

First Generation UGC: Examples

  • Open Directory Project
    • Army of volunteer editors categorize content.
    • Supposedly overcomes the scalability problem of directories
    • Directories then fell out of favor
    • Issues with quality control
    • Outcome: Must more widespread awareness of value of "crowdsourcing" – before anyone called it that.
    • Trip Advisor
    • Users write reviews about their experiences
    • Epinions
    • Among other things, blazed a trail of legality of opinions.

    UGC 1.0 Prototype: TripAdvisor

    • Search visibility and tactics: check
    • Risky? Nope
    • Feeds Google, doesn’t compete
    • Result: Millions of top ten rankings! Long tail poster child. To evolve they’ll have to tackle credibility and trust issues and work on the appropriateness of their recommendations, matching thinking users.
    • Lesson Learned: ODP was bought for $50 million, TripAdvisor bought for $200 million. Now everyone’s doing it.

    Is it really 2.0? Not really. Not much has changed. Positive developments are about understanding the incentive for why people would want to use such a system. Adding social media components. It’s not 2.0, maybe 1.9.

    Advantages of UGC: It ducktails with your search engine strategy because it gives the engines what they want. Doesn’t complete with the engines, just feeds them. It’s often just what users are looking for, too. Low cost to set up. It’s relatively easy to get link love as its quality content. It solves the long tail weakness of editorial driven media.

    Cut of personality opinions vs wisdom of the crowd: What are the real shortcomings of traditional media?

    Old: Famous restaurant reviews
    New: Epicurious

    Old: Customer advocacy messiah
    New: Online neighbors, WOM

    Old: Consumer reports
    New: Reviews by actual consumers

    UGC sites he likes are Yelp, Plenty of Fish, and Squidoo.

    Rebecca Kelley is next. Lucky for her my fingers are burning. The snark will be minimal.

    Why UGC? Because it’s free. It’s a simple way to create fresh, unique content for your site. More content equals more crawling.

    If you’re thinking about implementing UGC on your site, ask yourself what you want it to accomplish. How can you make it relevant to your site? Are you able to effectively monitor UGC?

    Implementation: If you’re going to launch a UGC section on your site, create buzz beforehand. Considering fudging the numbers a bit – no one is going to join a dating site with a population of 1. Acknowledge UGC sections after launch. You can’t just forget about it and expect it to stand on its own.

    Monitoring: If you’re a smaller site you’ll be using an inhouse moderator. Someone submits content, it goes into a queue, and then if it’s worthy it gets promoted, if it’s not, it won’t. If you’re a larger site, you’ll probably have a flagging system that you can moderate as you go.

    Tips for Dealing With User Generated Content

    • UGC Tip #1: One Man’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure
      Be as objective as possible with UGC. Controlling the community can lead to hostility.
    • UGC Tip #2: Don’t Forget to Optimize
      This means Title tags, Header tags (profile names/blog times in h1 tags), and using click-friendly URLs.
    • UGC Tip #3: Badges
      Play to users’ vanity. Make easy to share/display widgets. Include a link back to their profile or that section on your site. Don’t be spammy!

    Case Study: Yelp

    Recommended URL changes for location and user URLs.
    Title tag changes: "Restaurant – San Francisco — Yelp" became "San Francisco Restaurants"

    Results: Their rankings improved for searches across the board. Bumped up to 4 million monthly users. Added "Yelp Bling" widget for Web sites/blogs.

    Case Study: Drivl

    Had 250 page views/month & 90 inlinks to start. They wrote and then moderated stores and created a widget to share articles.

    Results: Have had 529 stores submitted, 409 of which were UGC. There were 2400 user signups, 3,1000 comments, 210k page views in June 2007, with 116k monthly uniques and 24k links.

    Case Study: YOUmoz

    Launched in February 2007
    Benefits: Drive visitors to your blog/site, build personal brand and get input from the search engines/other marketers.

    Results: Had 435 posts to date. Hundreds of mentions from other sites. Established a strong community.

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One response to “SEO & User Generated Content”

  1. Rebecca Kelley writes:

    I liked seeing you kicking your leg while sitting in the front row like you just had crack-laced coffee. Good stuff.



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