This weekend, one community manager explained that search engines accounted for nearly all growth to a community. It outweighed direct visits, any visible referral activity, links from any site and exceeded all social media traffic.
SEO, he declared, was the best way to grow a community.
The problem with that statement is he wasn’t doing anything else to drive growth. His plan for growth was to wait for members to search for a word and hope they became active community members.
Of course SEO will be your biggest source of growth if you’re not doing anything to stimulate growth. How else can people find your community?
If you’re not undertaking any promotional efforts, encouraging referral activity, inviting people to join, building relationships with influencers in the ecosystem, doing things worthy of attention – then people stumbling along through search engines is all you’re going to get. But that doesn’t make it the best source of growth. It just reduces all the other channels to zero.
The problem is search engines attract people looking for information rather than relationships. The conversion ratios for search engines are the weakest I’ve seen of any channel. Last week a founder of one community gave search engines a conversion ratio of just under 1%.
SEO attracts information seekers. Once they find the answer, they’re gone.
If SEO is your biggest channel of growth, it’s time to develop some new channels.