Here are the links to the other articles in the series:
Last time, when I covered off-site SEO, I repeatedly stressed the need for high quality content on your site. Without good quality content you won’t get good quality links.
This time I want to discuss Forum Marketing as a way to get people to visit your site and see your content.
Forum marketing involves joining a forum in your niche and establishing yourself as a recognised, helpful and knowledgeable member of the community.
This differs from Social Media marketing, which I touched on in the previous article, because Forums are not generally set up to facilitate sharing of content.
None-the-less, it is a good way to generate links to your content, and those from a site that you know and trust.
Get started with Forum Marketing
The first step is to identify forums that focus on your niche.
The best way to find suitable forums, if you don’t already know of any, is to do a search on Google for forums in your niche – e.g. Internet Marketing Forums, Pet Care Forums or whatever's relevant to your niche.
You’ll get a lot of results back but your search has only just begun because the percentage of all forums online that are professionally run and worthwhile is small.
So you’re going to need to check out each of the results until you find one that’s well-moderated and has quality activity – meaning that people are discussing real problems, not just spamming their products or services.
Once you’ve joined a suitable forum the first step is to set up your profile as fully as you can.
During this process give some thought to your Signature. It’s the snippet of text that will sit at the bottom of your forum posts once you’ve passed the qualification period. This is usually based on creating a pre-defined number of posts.
The temptation is to link to your home page but you may be better off linking to a specific page, or possibly a category, on your site if it’s more closely relevant to the forum discussions.
This is the same logic that I used in the post on building links, where I suggested linking to a specific article, rather than your home page, in your comments and guest posts on other blogs.
Links to specific pages within your site (called deep linking) benefits you by spreading the incoming links around and getting people to articles they may not find if they simply visited your home page.
None of the professionally run forums will allow you to directly promote your product or service in forum posts.
Promotional posts will be deleted and you’ll probably receive a slap on the wrist from the moderators to boot.
What you can do, though, is link to a specific article on your site in a response to a question, but only if it’s informative and amplifies your answer. That’s important!
The way I do that is to look for questions on WordPress each day and answer questions whenever I can.
Even if the answer is contained in detail in an article on this site I will still answer it directly in the thread first. I then explain that there are more details in the article and post the link.
Of course, I don’t link every answer I offer to an article. Many times I don’t have a relevant article, but often a simple answer will do.
Again, if you’re going to link to an article, it’s important you link to one that provides a more detailed answer to the question. It must be totally relevant.
This is an exercise in providing information, not in promoting your products or services.
Doing this successfully has two effects:
- It encourages visits to your site
- It creates a link from the forum to a specific article in your site
A good way to use forums if you’re just starting out is to use questions that you see regularly as the basis for posts on your blog.
That way you know you’re writing about problems people in your niche are having, and that has two benefits:
- These articles will likely attract search traffic because others will probably be searching for the same information online
- It will create an article that you can link to from the forum in the future when the question comes up again – as it undoubtedly will
So look out for questions that come up frequently and create well-written, detailed answers as blog posts. You will probably need to do some extra research to get the level of detail and quality you need, but the effort will be well repaid over time!
That's it for Forum Marketing - it's pretty simple really.
But as with anything worthwhile, forum marketing takes time and perseverance: you'll need to set up a disciplined process to ensure you check in regularly and contribute.
I have 2 forums that I log into and check each day as part of my standard daily routine.
I look for questions that I can answer and do so whenever I can. But I don’t spend all day on them – forums can become a real drain on your time if you’re not careful.
So find a good forum, set your profile up, start participating and answer questions whenever you can.
Link to specific articles on your site, as long as they are directly relevant to the question being asked, and only after you’ve already written an answer in the thread.
Create a process for working your forum, follow it, and over time you’ll start to attract both visitors and links to your site.