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Case Study: Content Marketing, How to Learn from Mistakes

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Content marketing practices are plentiful, and everyone tries as much as possible to get the most out of them. However, when you start, and even when you are already familiar with the field, there are actions that often do us more harm than what we really think.

In this article, I'm going to present to you the case of a talented blogger (let's call him Alain) who, after having held a forum for about a year on his blog, ended up closing it.

Before I talk about why he had to shut down the latter, let me introduce you to what he learned while managing it.

Already, if you consider adding user-generated content a form of marketing to your website, and the goal of which would be to increase your traffic (as was the case for Alain) you should keep some things in mind:

First lesson. Google knows which pages contain user-generated content

For months, Alain received messages from Google, telling him that they had detected user-generated spam.

Alain didn't realize how advanced Google's algorithm was, when it came to detecting user-generated content, until he received messages telling him which pages of his site contained. spam.

User-generated content, even good quality content, had never managed to rank as high as his blog posts. This was not because the posts on the forum did not contain backlinks, but rather because the quality of the forum was not at the level of that of the blog.

Unless you have guidelines like Wikipedia, it will be difficult for you to encourage the creation of quality content by users. And if you can not raise the level in terms of quality, your search traffic will be low.

Second Lesson. More pages do not mean more traffic

Alain's blog being a personal blog, he doesn't post a lot of posts there each year, so he decided to encourage user-generated content, with the goal of creating thousands. more pages, and position (potentially) for more search terms on Google.

However, a very unfortunate ratio emerged. The forum, which accounted for 89% of the pages on its site, was only 4% of the total number of page views. 🙁

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So if you want to generate more traffic, increasing the number of pages is not the solution, unless those pages are of exceptionally high quality.

Third Lesson. Participation helps build loyalty to your brand

The beauty of user-generated content is that you, as the site owner, can participate. It's like having a party with friends.

As for Alain's case, he was busy answering almost all the discussion threads on his blog's forum. When a user asked a question, they answered it. People continually thanked him for his answers and told him they wanted to work with him.

Since he had no intention of promoting any offer, Alain did not get consumers from the forum, although he could well have turned it into something really profitable.

If you decide to create a forum, a Q&A portal, or something similar, make sure you take the time to answer your users' queries. If you really care about thesethey will feel it, and help you grow loyalty to your brand.

Lesson 4. User-generated content creates a lot of spam

95% of the users on Alain's forum were spammers! He and his developer continually fought against these, but they still found a way to sign up.

Askimet is the tool that made it easier for him at this level. And if a clever man still managed to infiltrate, Google Webmaster Tools took over by sending a message, as described above.

While he only had 1 spam comments each day, Alain had appointed a person whose role was to ensure that quality comments did not end up marked as spam.

By the time it hit 50 to 60 spam comments each day, that was no longer possible. He simply had to close the forum ... These spams prevented quality comments to be published on the blog.

The traffic generated by the forum was not important, and on top of that, it generated too many warning messages from Google. His solution was therefore to close it ...

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Lesson 5. People are naturally lazy

Having said that, you understand, then, that it is very difficult to get people to upload large amounts of high quality content. The low number of words per comment really doesn't help in search results.

You should know that Google tends to rank articles of 2 words or more on the first page of search results. So with the little hundreds of words on the forums, you really shouldn't expect much!

To try to boost the number of words, Alain got down to answering each thread. Additionally, he recruited moderators to help him answer user questions with high quality content.

However, he still couldn't raise the word count to a high enough level without adding a lot of superfluous (what he didn't want).

So he failed to create the quality and detailed content (Wikipedia style) generated by users. With a site that does at least 500 000 visits when the month is even bad, it shows you how much you need a really high volume of traffic to build a lot of quality user-generated content.

Lesson 6. Indexing is a problem

When you have thousands of pages in a subsection, you will realize that some pages are not indexed quickly, or are not indexed at all.

To try to solve this problem, Alain used a few elements:

  • The cross-links : Manually, it toured hundreds of forum pages and linked them to each other to help increase the indexing rate. He did the same with blog pages that he linked to the forum.
  • Link Building : Alain has visited thousands of sites to encourage them to make links to the forum. More specifically, he wanted various sites to make links to various threads within the forum.
  • Influential presses : each time he was interviewed and asked a question whose answer was on the forum, Alain mentioned it. It helped him in the rankings.
  • Modified meta tags : Alain had to retouch a good amount of titles and descriptions on the pages of the forum, because they were either too short or not unique enough. More pages have been indexed.

While all of these implementations helped improve page indexing, traffic to forum pages did not increase.

Lesson 7. If you can't build it, you can buy it.

If there was one thing Alain could do with money, it was encourage engagement. With the new answers and new threads being created every day, he went about it as follows:

  • He announced the forum : he was able to obtain the initial base of users by asking his audience to register on the forum.
  • He then paid bloggers to promote the forum : The most engaged users a blogger has are usually those who are subscribed to their email list. This practice has helped generate more registrations and create more content.
  • He prospected new readers : Every time people subscribed to his email list, the first emails they received encouraged them to subscribe to the forum and create a thread. In his emails, Alain obviously did not fail to promise to answer their questions and help them. It is this practice that has generated the largest share of engagement and new content.

If you have the cash to spend, you can create more content by following the tactics outlined above. They still work today, but are just expensive.


Alain had to remove the forum from his blog for the following reasons:

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  1. It was causing too much warning from Google due to spam
  2. The forum did not generate enough traffic
  3. It required too much time for maintenance, given the low level of traffic provided.

For Alain, user-generated content is always good. You just need to figure out how to get your community to engage. The most important thing is to make sure that the content generated is of extremely high quality, as well as in quantity.

Otherwise, this content marketing effort will not produce much with regard to improving your ranking.

So, are you going to encourage user-generated content on your site?

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