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To many, the word 'community' elicits thoughts of social networks like MySpace and Facebook, and of popular social media websites like Flickr and Digg. But if you were active on the internet about a decade ago, you probably don't forget the precursor to today's social communities: the message board/forum.

They're still around (there are quite a few massive ones) and while they may not be as sexy as today's social networks, a Google update that will make it easier for searchers to find content posted in message board communities is likely going to benefit many operators of message board communities.

That Google is indexing message board posts is not new; Google is merely highlighting the most relevant posts from a message board where appropriate. The implication for operators of message board communities: the ability to 'earn' SERPs that are more prominent and thus, more likely to drive traffic.

As you can see from a search for "getting from rome to florence", the result for Destination360, a travel message board, includes additional direct links to several relevant Destination360's posts. I'm sure Destination360 won't complain about that.

Google hopes this update will give searchers "a deeper view into the relevant content available on sites throughout the web — even when that content spans multiple pages or discussions" and I think it will since there's a ton of great content contained on message boards. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that when it comes to user-generated content, message boards beat modern social networks hands down.

For online publishers, business owners and entrepreneurs, Google's update is a good reminder to not forget message boards. Today's social networks are great and look to be increasingly important for SEO. But at the same time, the trusty old message board has significant advantages in terms of fostering certain types of user interactions. And, in my opinion, the product of message board interactions -- high-quality, subject-oriented content -- is often more valuable than the people-oriented content that typically comes from interactions on modern-day social networks.

If you're running a message board already or thinking about setting one up, be sure to check out the SEO plugins available for popular platforms:

Patricio Robles

Published 5 October, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2429 more posts from this author

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Vincent Roman

You really can't underestimate the benefit of boards, both for drawing attention to your own site or as an outbound link to another site for SEO.  The fact that google is indexing them better is only GREAT news.  Amen to that!

about 7 years ago

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Jonathan Phillips

Have been monitoring this over the last month since the forum listings were introduced.

Although it's great that the content of many excellent forums will now be more readily available - would like to know how Google is choosing which forums to list?

It seems that large forums are being introduced but smaller ones ignored. It is mostly the smaller more specialist forums that have the more accurate, focused content.

about 7 years ago

Jonathan Moody

Jonathan Moody, Freelance at Language4Communications

"And, in my opinion, the product of message board interactions -- high-quality, subject-oriented content -- is often more valuable than the people-oriented content that typically comes from interactions on modern-day social networks."

Thanks for making this point, Patricio, one that is well needed in a world where some people think that social media begins and ends with Facebook, Twitter and similar. We've been preaching the need to see the big picture for some time now.

about 7 years ago

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SeoNext

Google recognizes that most duplicate content is not created to be deceptive. There are of course exceptions, which are considered spam. Grothaus says even spam sites aren't being penalized for having duplicate content though. They're being penalized for being spam. Just like some spammers use bold tags, he says. They don't penalize people just for using them. And they don't penalize people just for having duplicate content. Nice post.

about 7 years ago

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