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I had the opportunity to go to the Search Marketing Expo (SMX West) in Santa Clara, California last week. Here are some notes I jotted down during the session: SEO & User Generated Content. For further reading, I’ve found other resources covering this topic here and here.

SMX West: SEO & User Generated Content

Speakers:
Andrew Goodman, Founder & Principal, Page Zero Media
Rebecca Kelley, Search Marketing Consultant, SEOmoz
Roger Montti, Founder & Owner, Martinibuster.com

Roger was the first speaker. Talking about nuts & bolts on the “community side” (forums) to make it rank better. The goal is to have your forum attract more users via search, improve user friendliness & make your community site more useful. Went into detail on why optimizing is a good thing to do (improve ranking ability, long tail rank performance, user retention, etc.).

Don’t be afraid to moderate topic titles! Often times, users will have a title of “I need help!” Well, what do you need help with? However, misspellings are a GOOD thing to keep unmoderated. Having a sprinkling of correctly-spelled and incorrectly spelled words is good because searchers also misspell.

Remove the forum fluff such as “last post by” for each forum thread, moderator profiles, links to member profiles outside of inside an actual thread.

Andrew was up next. “A big picture of pure-play user generated sites.” Sites that start / have started recently will have a hard time ranking against sites that are established in the social media / user generated content scene like Yelp or Zillow.

First generation of UGC – the Open Directory. TripAdvisor. Epinions. Sort of like UGC 1.0. Now – everyone is into UGC. But is it UGC 2.0? Andrew says it’s UCG 1.9. There hasn’t been much of a big change from these 1.0 user-generated content sites to these 2008 UGC sites.

Bottom line is – you need great content. And you need to be innovate to GET new creative & great content on a site. And you need an incentive to contribute as well.

Rebecca was the last speaker. She went into a couple of case studies including Youmoz & Yelp. And unfortunately, my computer died right as she was launching into the first case study… but she had an entertaining presentation about things that Yelp did right… and things that they had them correct.

I did see some mislabeling on her powerpoint presentation – some slides were labeled with this session’s name and date while some others had a conference and session name in 2007. Gotta double-check that presentation!

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