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SEM NY: Communities, Wikipedia & Tagging

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-03-01

Social community websites, user-edited encyclopedias, and content classification by tagging…all of these can be utilized by the savvy search marketer to garner traffic for a website.

Do you tag or wiki or commune with like-minded business people? How has it helped your business? Tag us at SyndicationPro and tell us more.

A group of presenters discussed ways to tap into the popular social media technologies that have debuted online. Mike McDonald from WebProNews sent along his take on the session, SEM via Communities, Wikipedia & Tagging.

National Instruments search and community manager Jeff Watts started by discussing Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that can be edited live online. His firm has an entry in Wikipedia and Watts thinks other firms could benefit from an entry there as well.

"Getting feedback from a larger audience sometimes requires moving to a larger source," Watts said. "In general content in Wikipedia is fairly trusted and neutral. One of the goals of the community is to keep it that way."

Watts first tried out Wikipedia two years ago, crafting a 40-word entry for LabVIEW that the community promptly edited and changed about twenty minutes after he placed it online. It is now a more neutral and objective entry, and carried extensive detail over several pages about the product.

Since the conversation about a company is going to take place online whether the company is participating or not, Watts thinks that a firm may as well be involved in the process. "Think about the things you know about and engage the community with unbiased information," he said.

Wikipedia benefits LabVIEW by the traffic it delivers and the third-party objective viewpoint it possesses. That means information it contains about a firm may be unflattering but accurate, and companies need to resist the temptation to remove it.

Nick Wilson of Performancing.com discussed the tagging phenomenon, where people label content with the user's own language. Tags, called 'social bookmarking' by some, has a big factor in its favor. It is simple, which has led to broader adoption of tagging by countless blogs and websites.

Tagging can deliver the fabled 15 minutes of fame for a site. "For example, if you can get your page about music to be tagged by a bunch of people you can get a lot of links out of it," Wilson said.

He also said Delicious is the most popular of the tagging sites. "If you don't know anything about tagging, this is the only one you should be concerned with."

Site publishers need to tag quality content. Useless and spammy content will earn the publisher a reputation as someone trying to game the system, and a fallout of bad publicity from hardcore bloggers with vocal followers.

Publishers can avoid that by tag their good content, and benefit later by using good anchor text for those tags. This lets users find the content and tell what it is. When the tag becomes popular enough that others begin to import links to it in their blogs, a site could see a dramatic jump in their inbound links using that good anchor text pointing back to them.

Andy Hagans from Text Link Ads also favors tagging. He noted a four-point approach to it a business should consider:

1. Create link-bait (bookmark-worthy content)
2. Get it in front of the right people without spamming
3. Give it a bump on delicious - Delicious is by far the most important
4. Rinse and repeat

"When viral marketing works, it works well, but most of the time it flops," Hagans said. He recommended sticking to tagging. Lists that are funny or useful, like rules of thumb for accomplishing a task, work well as tagged content. So do encyclopedic resources and unique tools.

Hagans also recommended making a list of bloggers covering the industry who may benefit from one's content. He said a short, unique, personalized email to the blogger about the site would be a good approach to contacting one.

He is also a Delicious fan, and repeated that publishers should not try bumping their tagged sites up within Delicious by using multiple accounts. "This is not the place to test the waters and make enemies. Tread lightly," Hagans said.


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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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