Here’s the lesson learned from the recent Google crackdown on content farms and the JC Penney fiasco: If a SEO tactic looks like a shortcut, it’s probably a dead end. You might be smart, but Google is smarter. Get too cute and the search engine’s Web spam team may manually bury your company’s listing somewhere south of the Earth’s core.
But the funny thing is this: You don’t have to resort to slight-of-hand to improve your search performance. A few minor adjustments to some of the constructive marketing tactics you are already executing can make a big difference in your SEO performance.
Take communities, for example. Virtually every marketer I know is trying to figure out how to prioritize this new wave of Q&A and document sharing communities. I get asked all the time, “How much time should I spend answering questions on LinkedIn?” Or, “Why does Quora matter?” Or, “Scribd vs. Docstoc, which is better?” While some of the answers will vary from company to company, there is yet another consideration when it comes to community marketing: SEO.
You see, some these communities are structured in such a way that Google will not recognize links included in answers or profiles, whereas the search engine is able to “see” links in others. Insiders call these “no follow” and “follow” links, with the latter being obviously preferable for SEO.
Divining the “no follow” communities from their “follow” counterparts is tricky and time consuming. But we’ve done the work for you. We’ve even thrown in the domain’s MozRank, which gives you a sense of how much the search engines “like” that particular domain (higher scores are better). All things being equal, if you have to decide between allocating time between two communities, pick the one with the “follow” links and a high MozRank. Just don’t go link-spamming in your answers, or else the community itself will turn against you. Make sure your links always add value, regardless of whether or not Google follows them.
Lastly, we’re taking a risk by sharing some of our marketing intelligence. So if you find this post helpful, please share it liberally. We want to make sure as many marketers benefit from it as possible. Of course, websites are constantly changing, so it’s possible that by the time this post is read, some of the lists may have already changed. If they have, please let us know.
- Quora. Not followed. MozRank of 6.04.
- Scribd. Not followed. MozRank of 7.33.
- LinkedIn. Not followed (in Groups or company profiles). MozRank of 8.48.
- Gather. Links in articles/posts are followed. MozRank of 6.72.
- StackExchange. Not followed. MozRank of 5.74.
- Mahalo. Not followed. MozRank of 6.11.
- ChaCha. Not followed. MozRank of 6.14.
- Docstoc. Followed when next to an uploaded document. Not followed in profile. MozRank of 6.4.
- Vark. Links in answers are followed. MozRank of 5.72.
- Edocr. Links in company profiles are followed. MozRank of 3.73.
What communities do you think we should add?