How Forums can build your site’s popularity

I participate in forums, you’ll see me around, usually under the name of sarahk but sometimes I’ll have to pick another – shock, I’m not the only sarahk out there!

Have you ever wondered who all these nice folk are who are answering questions on the web? Well, they’re nice folk. But they may have an ulterior motive such as

  1. Building their personal reputation in their chosen field
  2. Promoting their business through their comments and signature
  3. Gaining new inbound links for their websites through their signatures – links that are purely for SEO purposes

I’m not going to spell out how participating in forums can be very good for the first two options, I’m just going to deal with #3

Forums have alot of content, you’re fighting an uphill battle to try to create content on any site more quickly than a forum can. Unlike a links page a forum will have alot of text that isn’t a link and the bots see that as being “good” content – with links scattered in there too. That the links are your signature and not someone saying “read this” doesn’t matter.

When you first visit a forum get going straight off and check the control panel or profile settings. Enter a signature and check to see what sort of signatures others use. Don’t be cute about your name – this is professional link building so “hot mama” may not be the username you’re after. They will also have a field for your website. This doesn’t get useful anchor text but a link is a link so I normally put in this site – because it in turn builds up my other sites.

When you post to a forum you get the opportunity to add your signature (can’t see the option, it may be hidden until you have something in your signature)

Then when you do post you’ll have some standard text at the bottom of the post. Best of all it’s usually updated when you change your signature so you can generate new links in a giffy further down the track.

I like to have a minimum of 10 posts on a forum so after I’ve signed up I’ll look through the other posts to see if there’s something meaningful I can add to any of them.

Many forums provide an RSS feed of the posts which you put into your favourite feedreader and then at a set time each day you can review the new content and decide if you want to participate. They’re all in one place so you don’t have to remember where to go.

Other forums, such as those using vBulletin allow you to subscribe to a section of the forum. I do this for those sections where I know I can add value or gain value – such as the Link Exchange forum over at REW. Every night I get sent an email with the threads that are new or updated. If I have a moment I may pop in and contribute, thus clocking up another set of links.

One point, once you have posted on a page don’t put your signature in again. Pages tend to have 10 posts, so only put your signature in if the thread spills over to a new page.

I asked a question, in the early days about the value of signature links and the feedback was “don’t put all your SEO efforts into links from forums” and I do agree with that. However the SEO competitions, particularly the Nigritude Ultramarine comp was won from blog and forum posts, not from traditional link exchanges.