How to build a passionate online community

This guide is based on Mixergy’s interview with Rand Fishkin.

After building an online community with over 300,000 members, Rand Fishkin went on to create, a community-curated marketing news site that recorded 12,836 visits during its launch weekend. It was all done using community building tactics, so we invited him to teach you how to do it.

Rand is the CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz, which develops search engine optimization software and hosts an active SEO community.

Here are the actionable highlights from the interview.

1. Find a cause people are passionate about to attract an audience and build community

Rand and co-founder Dharmesh Shah felt the need for an inbound marketing news site but noticed there wasn’t one, so they created it and made exposing more people to it their cause.

Take Action:
Reflect on your own problems and experiences and choose the one that is most relatable.

2. Create good content to seed comment threads and encourage participation

The users Rand invited to join Inbound’s beta launch eventually became the community’s seed group.

Take Action:
Hire in-house writers, write the content yourself, ask friends to participate, or invite people to join a beta program.

3. Use search engine optimization tactics to boost your page ranking and visibility

Rand writes keyword-relevant content on Inbound, which he then shares on Google+.

Take Action:
Make your site accessible, use Google AdWords to find usable keywords, and promote your content on social networks.

4. Be active on social networks to attract more users to your community

Rand’s friend Mariam, who founded Minted, discovered that Pinterest was the portal most commonly used by her audience.

Take Action:
Find your target audience’s networks using Follower Wonk and FindPeopleonPlus, post content when the most people are online, and share links.

5. Figure out what’s missing in your niche so you can create unique content

Rand cited Noah’s Dad, which features content about raising a child with Down’s syndrome that can’t be found anywhere else on the web.

Take Action:
Research your niche, find the missing pieces, and then create the content.

Want magic?

Premium Members who are logged in, will auto-magically see the full cheat sheet with all the tactics, right here. (Everyone else sees the first set of tactics.) They also get all of our courses.

6. Seek out referrals to increase site traffic, get more backlinks, and improve ranking

Rand says SEOmoz gets increased traffic with referrals from Search Engine Land, WebmasterWorld, and The Next Web.

Take Action:
Write guest posts, participate in forums, find partners who will send you traffic, and use site directory lists.

7. Send automated emails to follow up, get users to return, and increase participaton

Rand set it up so that SEOmoz users get an alert if a 404 error is detected on one of their web pages.

Take Action:
Set up an automated email system that sends notifications based on user behavior and actions.

8. Make it easy to register so you can increase conversion rates

Rand linked Inbound’s registration system with Twitter so new users can sign up in just two clicks and used big arrow buttons to make it easy for people to vote on content.

Take Action:
Design an easy-to-use site with a simple registration process that uses Twitter, Facebook, or Google.

Want to make sure you get results?

Written by Hazel Chua, based on production notes by Jeremy Weisz

  • Stephen Walsh

    The tips from this article are true, proven and tested. If you’re a businessman you should have reputation in “Internet World”, online will help you to gain client and investor. And also it will help you branding your business.. :)

  • Andrew Warner


  • Rickina

    These tips are just what I needed…I was already off and trying to implement them before I finished the whole cheat sheet. I keep looking for ways to gain more clients and get more people excited about what I’m trying to do…but your interviews and guests are great Andrew..Thank You!

  •!/michalhudecek Michal Hude?ek

    Very good point about the passion. This is strong motivation factor. You might like this infographic about how to use Motivation Wheel to work on it little more systematically:  

  • GraceMontage

    To build a passionate online community takes  enormous amount of effort especially when it comes to getting a lot of people involved. The tips shown here give great insight on how to make it possible. The first step is the hardest one but once you get past it you can reap the rewards and all you need to do next is to maintain it and use the power of creativity. 

  • Andrew Warner

    That’s what I like to hear. Glad you’re using it.

    What’s your biggest challenge in getting customers?

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