In early December I received an email from Google announcing that Google Communities was live and inviting me to check it out. To be honest, I hadn’t been on Google+ much since it originally went live. When I was on, it was only to share links to recent articles I had written. I wasn’t engaged or active at all.
The concept of Google Communities intrigued me though and given my new recent focus on upping my “social media game”, I decided to check it out.
Google Communities are like forums, but integrated seamlessly into Google+. Google Plus members can join a Google community and begin participating. Communities are assigned one or moderators that are responsible for monitoring activity and enforcing any rules or guidelines the community has established. The level of moderation and types of rules in place vary from community to community. Moderation, or the lack there of is my biggest concern with Google Communities, but I’m jumping ahead. I’ll address this a little more directly below.
The first thing I did after clicking on the Communities icon was to search on “blogging”, as I was really interested in finding some blogging related communities and hooking up with some other bloggers in my niche. I’ve learned that establishing relationships with other bloggers is not only fun, but can be a huge benefit to you and the bloggers. In the blogging “old days”(a whole 5 years ago), this was done using Blogging Networks and forums. Now, Social Media has filled that space and especially so with Google Communities.
I initially joined Blog Tips, Blogging, and Blog Community communities. After joining and participating for a bit, I met a number of really great bloggers that I’ve enjoyed interacting with on a daily basis. Through these bloggers, I found additional communities that I also joined. I’m later joined: Social Media Strategy and Adsense Community on Google+.
Google Communities – The Good
Initial activity on Google Communities during the first few weeks of December was high. Lots of new members joined and some good discussion was going on as well. For December, Google+ was my number one social media traffic generator. Community content varied with members asking questions, introducing themselves, sharing good article’s they’ve read, and of course the dreaded link spam. The link spam itself generated some good discussion on whether or not it should be accepted and whether there should be some guidelines established. Rand Wilson even shared a name for something similar: Plusterbation.
As time went on, activity in most of the communities slowed down some, which frankly is good. Personally, I was having a hard time keeping up with all of the initial activity and discussion and spending way too much time on Google+ when I should have been writing content.
Via communities, I’ve met a number of new bloggers and found new blogs to read. I’ve learned some new things about Adsense, how often and when other bloggers publish and learned a ton on how to most effectively participate in Social Media.
At the same time, I’ve also shared my personal experience and expertise and hope others have found it helpful. I really enjoy being active on Google Plus and Google Communities. It seems to be the social medium where I am spending most of time and not so coincidentally getting most of my social media traffic from as well.
Join some Google communities
Social Media is a trend that is not going away. Social Media can drive large amounts of traffic to your blog and should be something you are actively participating in. I’m very impressed with Google+ and being active and participating on it can have significant SEO benefits. While difficult to confirm, most SEO experts are strongly suggesting that high levels of participation in social media, and in particular Google+, can boost your search engine rankings.
Google communities are a great way to meet up with people in your same niche and not only help to provide value but to learn as well. Blogging like any other business requires relationships and social media, Google Plus, and Google Plus communities are a great way to develop them. Head over, search around, join a few communities and get active.
You won’t be disappointed….at least not yet.
Google Communities and Link Spam – The Ugly
December 21st, I literally went on a blog free vacation for almost two weeks. I didn’t check my blog, didn’t check my blog stats, didn’t check my income, barely checked email, and wasn’t on Google+ or Google communities at all. I didn’t write a single article. Instead I spent time with my wife, my kids, and playing probably far too much World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2.
I returned to the blogging world and looked forward to checking out the Google Communities I’m a member of. As I did, I quickly noticed that a very high percentage of activity wasn’t great discussion, wasn’t members sharing articles they liked, but primarily members linking out to their blogs and websites – Plusterbation – Spam.
I was Plustrated, big time. I immediately headed to Evernote and drafted the first version of this article – a rant. Fortunately I’ve learned to let things “marinate” for a bit before pressing the publish button and this article is a significantly modified version of the original.
Hopefully it’s far less of a rant now and more of a plea.
I was really excited with the promise of Google Communities – I sincerely wanted to meet new people and interact with others on our shared interests. Unfortunately, the majority of communities have turned into mostly link spam which I just can’t deal with.
The problem? Lack of moderation.
The only community I’m in where link spam isn’t a problem is Social Media Strategy. Why? The community is heavily moderated, which I really appreciate. Given the community has more than 4500 members, other community members must feel the same.
Social Media Strategy has various topics defined to categorize posts and a full set of posting guidelines that are 100% enforced. The guidelines are intended to make sure people are posting high quality links and participating in the community. It works very well. When members violate the guidelines, they get a warning – they do it again, they get booted.
Harsh? Perhaps. Does it work? Absolutely.
Google Community Moderators – My plea to you
Take a close look at what the moderators have in place at Social Media Strategy and follow his pattern. By doing so, you might just save Google Communities from becoming nothing more than archive of link spam – which is where it’s heading. I don’t want this. I see great potential in Google Communities and very much want them to succeed and be of value to people beyond link building.
I plan to continue participating and staying as a member of the current communities I’m involved with.
I’m also pledging to not link spam.
If others want to share my articles in the communities, fine but I won’t share my own in communities. As I said, I really have met some great people and participated in conversation where I’ve I learned something. Unfortunately though, if the high levels of link spam continue, I’ll need to leave. I just don’t have the time or desire to sort the wheat from the chaff.
What are your thoughts on the topic? How do you feel about link spam in social media and Google Communities? Do you link out to your own content? Add a comment!