THE IMPORTANCE OF SEO TO THE CUSTOMER
It’s hard to find a business that isn’t worried about its search marketing results these days. No matter what your industry, today’s tech-savvy customers start their process of gathering information and getting support in a search engine. Why? We’ve all learned that a quick Google search will tell you just about everything you could hope to know in the most time efficient way.
As a result, most companies spend a lot on paid search engine marketing (SEM) to ensure that their content shows up on the first page results. But SEM is expensive, and you can only optimize for a handful of keywords without breaking the bank.
A better solution is to use search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to ensure that your web site and pages appear on the first page of search results naturally. This involves paying careful attention to your keywords, content, information architecture, site map, and more … and it’s really just as much an art as a science.
In practice, SEO is hard, and you have to write all the content. This is both time-consuming, and doesn’t necessarily get your prospects and customers to the information they’re looking for — authentic opinions and experiences of people like them.
But there is a way to make SEO easy. Search engines love user-generated content (UGC) because it’s written by real people and therefore earns a higher degree of trust and engagement than anything your marketing team produces. Bringing customer-generated content into your website and linking your web pages to and from customer conversations naturally improves your SEO.
Search Engines Love Community
Because of the long-tail nature of conversations and the preference that search algorithms give to user-generated content, community content produces some of the best SEO results. Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm prioritizes social content and conversations when ranking search results, so community content naturally has a major advantage. Get Satisfaction benefits from this algorithm
Rank for the Language your Customers Actually Use
You can do all the keyword analysis you want, but nothing compares to ranking for the language your customers and prospects are already using to search and talk about your brand and your products. That’s the beauty of community. The questions, ideas, praise, and problems are posted there by real customers and prospects, so when someone else turns to Google to find information about the same topic, they’re likely to use similar language. In Get Satisfaction, the conversation title used in the community also appears in the URL, so the conversation is naturally indexed for the appropriate keywords.
The Marketing Value of Customer-Generated Content
As we’ve discussed, search engines prioritize content that’s trustworthy, helpful, and engaging. Content in your community automatically falls into that category by its very nature. When people are searching for an answer or for more information about your products, they want to hear from people like them, not just from your marketing team. Consider the example of what happens when you search “How do I migrate to HP Vertica from Oracle?” The very nature of the question suggests that the person is doing pre-sale research and is considering switching to HP Vertica. Notice, that the top results that surface are community conversations about that very topic.
The responses to these questions are from a mix of HP Vertica employees and knowledgeable customers. The breadth of responses suggests that this is a process that others go through often, and that it’s relatively simple — precisely the two messages you want to convey to a prospect. Even better, it’s real HP Vertica customers who are delivering the message. The marketing value of this content is high, and because it’s in a Get Satisfaction community, it also turns up first in search results.
A Positive Feedback Loop for SEO
The more community content you have, the more likely your community pages will show up in organic searches. The more your community pages show up, the more content gets created. And so on. HP Vertica has seen the number of community page views grow dramatically since launching in January 2013. This diagram speaks for itself; the amount of direct traffic has remained relatively stable while he traffic from search has spiked.
Google’s algorithms are all about connecting searchers with content of value. As more and more people come to the community and engage with the content there, that sends search engines a message that this content is interesting and useful for searchers. Some of these people will create new content once they come to the community, which creates more conversations. The cycle perpetuates; your community is really an investment in SEO that appreciates over time! It’s a positive feedback loop.
By providing rich and relevant content, the community approach to SEO helps you meet customers needs, as well as your own. It trumps traditional approaches like SEM, hiring an SEO agency, or scattering link trails like breadcrumbs.
Showing up in top results for the keywords your customers and prospects are searching for is crucial to being found in today’s business landscape. Providing interesting, relevant, helpful content on those pages that people can engage with once they land on them is crucial for staying relevant and competitive. Community allows you to do both.
Interested in learning more about how a Get Satisfaction customer community can help you acquire more customers, drive product innovation, and deliver excellent, low-cost social support? Call 877-339-3997 to schedule a demo.
About Get Satisfaction
Based in San Francisco, Get Satisfaction provides an online community platform connecting companies with customers to foster relationships that unlock new value for both sides. Companies of all sizes and industries—from Kellogg’s, P&G and Intuit to Sonos, and SugarCRM—rely on Get Satisfaction to deliver online communities that modernize customer support, accelerate sales, differentiate their brand and inspire new innovations. Get Satisfaction’s community platform offers the fastest time to value for companies ready to embrace the way today’s customers want to engage.