Following and commenting on forums is a way to both keep up with what is going on in a niche and get some backlinks at the same time. It is also a way to socialize and make oneself known among people with related interests. However, forums do take valuable time but finding the right ones will make time spent on them much more effective. Here are some methods to make finding the perfect forums easier.
Before getting into any forums, remember that spamming with thoughtless comments and blatant self-promotion will lead to one being ignored at best and banned at worst. Instead, approach forums to learn, network and help people. Offer useful advice and only occasionally include a promotional link. When people are positively contributing to a forum, many users will follow their signature and profile links back to the forum member’s site without any promoting.
A nice thing about forum commenting is that finding forums does not require any expensive software and can be done through a regular search. Simply type the following in a search engine:
- “your niche keyword(s)” forum (try both with and without quotation marks)
For example, a search for a forum on “search engine optimization” would look like this: search engine optimization forum
It is also possible to find good forums using names of popular software that most are run on Examples of the most used ones are below. Note the vBulletin is paid and perhaps the best software.
- “Powered by vBulletin” your niche keyword(s)
- “Powered by SMF” your niche keyword(s)
- “Powered by phpbb” your niche keyword(s)
- “Powered by PunBB” your niche keyword(s)
- “Powered by IPB” your niche keyword(s)
Therefore, the same search example given above would look like this: “Powered by vBulletin” search engine optimization
Filtering to get the best forums
The results given in searched will likely need to be filtered and narrowed down. For example, many people will want sites offering “follow” links in order to get more juice from search engine rankings, or only want forums that rank high in search engines. The free Firefox browser has a lot of good plugins that can help with this task. One of the best is SEO Quake, which gives lots of information about sites on the search results page to include page rank and if the site is nofollow.
Forum search engines
Another way to find forums is to use search engines dedicated to forum searches. The following are some of the top search engines for this purpose, although some of them contain message boards and other sites that are not strictly forums.
Regardless of how the forums are found, look for ways to select the best ones. Examine each forum individually for interesting topics. A look at the number of threads and the most recent posts will give a good idea of how active it is. A forum with little recent activity may not be worth signing up with. In addition, a good forum will have some kind of moderation and will not allow blatant advertising.
When using forum commenting to bring people to your site, the most important aspect is that they allow some type of signature that shows up at the bottom of posts. Look at their policies on signatures (doing a search of the forum name + “signature rules” often works well). Live, dofollow links are the best, but many forums will not offer these. Any forum that offers some type of a link, even if it is not live, has the possibility of generating good traffic if you are posting information people are really interested in.
Using forums effectively
Once the right forum(s) have been found, keep the following goals in mind:
- Learning about the niche and find what people in the niche are interested in
- Providing others with useful information
Good forums will have knowledgeable people posting on them. This is a great way to learn and gather information to use when creating your own content. In addition, keep an eye out for popular topics and consider incorporating them into your site.
Never use forums as a place to start just posting links to a site. Most posts should be concentrated solely on offering advice. Do research to give people the best answers possible. When people see posters making intelligent and useful answers to posts, they will be drawn to want to learn more about that person and follow links in their signature, even if they have to copy and paste it.
If posting links is allowed, it is fine occasionally offer links back to specific articles on your site that offer solutions to questions asked. However, the main emphasis needs to be on establishing oneself as a knowledgeable member of the forum community and learning about the niche. Therefore, the number of forums one posts on should be limited so that the posts can be regular enough to allow the poster to be noticed.
The profile should be completed carefully with a good image and any other requested information. If you are not using your own name, always try to select as clever a name as possible. Remember that a good profile, combined with informative posts, is a good way to build followers to your own site and the kind of social proof that search engines are increasingly looking for.