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[Discuss] BLU's SEO

Eric Chadbourne wrote:
> I just opened a private window and googled "boston linux group" and blu
> was #1.

Richard Pieri wrote:
> Bing: BLU #1.
> Baidu: BLU #2 -- after Boston Blender User Group at #1.

Greg Rundlett wrote:
> If you search Google for "Install Linux Boston" - you get BLU in
> the number one position.

That's great to see we are highly ranked for the obvious keywords.

Richard Pieri wrote:
> Can't do much better than top spot on Google and Bing.

Greg Rundlett wrote:
> The purpose of doing some of the SEO tactics that Tom mentions
> would be to increase BLU's visibility when people search for "redhat
> configuration", "apache versus nginx" etc.  This would help build the 
> user base of the group to those who might not directly seek out BLU.


Dan Ritter wrote:
> Generic people seeking help with Red Hat configuration (a) need to
> better specify their question and (b) should look at the myriad
> of Red Hat-specific sites.
> And that's pretty much what's wrong with the idea of SEO in the
> first place: it's nothing more than an attempt to fool search
> engines into according an earlier place for the wrong results.

That's true in the case of these broad keywords Greg happened to chose
for his example. It would be bad use of SEO to strive to get BLU highly
ranked as a canonical source for those. Maybe less so if you add in some
geographical qualifiers.

But it isn't bad SEO to unlock the knowledge in the list archives. There
are plenty of far more specific and obscure queries for which the list
archives have a really good answer.

Most of us are here because we see value in what the list provides. (If
we only cared about the BLU talks, we'd just subscribe to the announce
mailing list.) Figuring out a way to make this value more evident to
others seeking the same sort of information should be the goal of SEO.

Once you've delivered value to the user, it's in the group's best
interest (more on that below) that you make the viewer aware of where
they can find more knowledge from the same source, and what other
resources the organization has to offer, such as the talks.

Eric Chadbourne wrote:
> ...why does blu care about seo? 

Greg Rundlett wrote:
> This would help build the user base of the group... 
> (Is that a good thing?)

BLU should care about SEO if it wants to grow and if it wants to
maximize its reach to the target audience (more on that below).

Whether growing is a good thing is a more subjective question. Growth
means more people on the list. More shared knowledge. A larger
population from which to draw speakers. A greater chance that when you
ask an obscure question, someone on the list will know the answer. But
more people also means more noise. At some point you reach diminishing

Richard Pieri wrote:
> BLU isn't a front-line help desk. It's an advocacy group.

Greg Rundlett wrote:
> I agree completely.  BLU is an advocacy group (not a linux help desk
> although list members certainly help each other all the time with 
> specific technical issues).

So if BLU is an advocacy group, what form does that advocacy take, aside
from the installfests? It seems to me that the more prominent form of
advocacy BLU provides is peer support for Linux/UNIX.

That this happens to be "2nd tier" help desk, instead of "front-line"
help desk level support is merely a side effect of the age of the
organization and the type of members it has attracted.

It's perfectly fine to make the case that we'd rather remain being a
more "elite" organization, than a resource for newbies, but it seems
inaccurate to say we are nothing like a help desk. (If this was purely
an advocacy group, the list discussion would be entirely about planning
installfests and other educational outreach events.)

If we did want to take on the mission of improving BLU's SEO, the first
step would be coming to an agreement as to what BLU's purpose is and
what sort of members it wants to attract.

The web site defines the group as:

  Boston Linux & Unix (BLU) is a non-profit trade organization; our
  mission is to educate about and advocate for Open Source, Open
  Systems, and Free Software ("free speech" not "free beer"), such as
  Linux, Unix, and freely-redistributable software.

Does that still make sense? Are we primarily a support organization for
senior-level technologists using UNIX/Linux, and the occasional
adventurous newbie? Or are installfests and other advocacy aimed at new
users the real mission, and the Discuss list just happens to be a side
project where the senior members hang out and forms the pool from which
volunteers are drawn to implement the advocacy activities?

You can't really do SEO until you know what it is you want to provide
and who to.

Dan Ritter wrote:
> BLU is the right resource for people who want to talk about
> Linux and UNIX with other users in New England. 

BLU's geographic focus is more an anachronism of its beginnings as a
Boston Computer Society group, and the practical limitations of user
groups at that time.

The mailing list has no enforced or even stated (only implied by the
group's name) geographic restrictions (and there are a bunch of
non-local subscribers). Even the reach of meetings will be expanding
beyond local with live streaming and online video recordings.

In some ways the geographic criteria is just an arbitrary way to slice
up the audience and create a smaller, possibly less noisy community.
Though if BLU did more advocacy activities in addition to installfests
that require a physical presence, then a regional focus still makes sense.

Eric s wrote:
> I have suggested blu to many other technologists and probably zero
> have stayed on the discuss list long.  The complaint somebody told me
> just last week was that the list was way over their head.

This either suggests that BLU should have some additional lists (or
other form of online community) for users at a more novice level
(perhaps a mailing list or online forum built around the Desktop Linux
SIG?), or it just isn't a group optimized for novices, and we're OK with


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
Professional Profile:

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