How to Discover Who Links to Your Online Community

As online community manager, you should keep track of backlinks. Backlinks, or incoming links, are good for both search engine optimization (SEO) and site traffic. They identify how people ended up on a particular website. If a high-ranking website or blog is linking to yours, you may even experience a huge increase in traffic.

Use your stats program to find out where your traffic is coming from. If it’s coming from a specific blog post or website, investigate to see what’s being said about you.

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You may find that traffic is coming from Facebook and Twitter without knowing exactly what had people coming to your community. But you may notice a spike in traffic from the social networks on days when you release a new community feature or launch a promotion. If you notice changes in traffic patterns, see whether they coincide with promotions and announcements.

Many of your incoming links are specific to a certain blog post or web article, or even to comments from other forums. Don’t disregard these links, even if they show only one or two hits. Take some time each week to investigate. Someone is linking to your brand or community for some reason, and it’s in your best interest to find out why.

Your brand may be the subject of a positive discussion, and if so, this information is important. Monitor the discussion carefully and read all comments, and don’t forget to thank everyone involved.

Or your brand may be the subject of a not-so-positive discussion, and this situation is worthy of investigation as well. Report all feedback to the appropriate departments, and monitor negative feedback to be sure that there’s no crisis in the making.

Your community wants to know there’s a human element to the brand. If people are talking about you online, they like to know that you’re paying attention. When you take the time to investigate a mention, you’re telling your community that you hear them loud and clear.

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