If you are looking for an effective way of getting backlinks and traffic that is also fun, consider forum marketing. In my opinion, too few affiliate marketers actually use forum marketing. Everyone seems so caught up with article marketing, blog commenting, and Web 2.0 that one of the easiest ways to get floods of traffic and quality links is consistently overlooked.
What is forum marketing?
Forum marketing is simple. It is a type of marketing where you participate in ‘forums’ (also known as message boards) and discuss different topics with other like-minded individuals. You can get backlinks by leaving a link to your website in your ‘signature’ file (this is displayed automatically every time you post on a forum) You can also put links in the main body of your comments, and there is another nifty little backlink trick I will show you as well.
Why is forum marketing effective?
- Forums are targeted. Forums are highly targeted to specific topics or niches. A dog training forum is going to be full of people interested in training their dogs, for example. As you may already know, search engines look favourably on links that come from related and targeted websites
- Forums are specific. No matter what your niche is, there is most likely a forum based around it. This means you can really ‘drill down’ and find highly relevant forums. Imagine that you have a website that sells parts for classic American muscle cars; you don’t just have to settle for forums about cars in general. Instead, you can go one step further and comment on forums that are all about American muscle cars.
- Forums are active. Rather than just getting links from static web directories and websites that are updated rarely, forums are living and breathing communities. Even the smallest of forums receive updates a few times a day by new posts or comments. Search engines love fresh content, and forums fit this criterion very well.
- Forums are fun. Let’s face it, link building is not a lot of fun. Submitting articles, exchanging links with other webmasters, submitting to directories – this all gets very boring! Forums are lively and enjoyable places, full of interesting people. Because forum marketing is fun, you are much more likely to be consistent with your marketing efforts.
- Forums are well established. There are many forums online (especially in bigger niches) that have been around for years. Search engines reward links from established, authority websites.
How do you find forums?
The first step in successful forum marketing is finding a list of forums you can join. This is actually not as difficult as you might think. Simply use a Google search for your niche keyword plus “forum” or “message board” to find potential candidates.
You can also use the Google Discussion search, available on the left hand side of the search screen.
It really is that simple.
How do you join forums?
So you’ve found a list of forums, now how do you join them? This is usually a very straightforward process too (if you haven’t noticed by now, forum marketing is also easy)
Simply navigate to the forum you want to join, and look for a “register” or “join” button. Provide the details requested, and then you are ready to go.
Tip - If you cannot easily find the register button, just browse to a message ‘thread’ and then try and leave a comment. A screen will come up saying that you need to register to post. On this message, you will usually find an option to register.
How do you actually build links with forum marketing?
Now we come to the important stuff, actually building our links.
There are three main ways to build links and get traffic with forum marketing:
1. Using a signature file. Most forums use platforms such as vBulletin or phpBB. These platforms allow you to add a ‘signature’ to the end of every message you post. In your signature, you can often include an anchor text link to your website.
For example, if the main keyword you want to target with your website is “American muscle car parts” then your signature could say something like “Visit Sam’s American Muscle Car Parts today for a wide selection of rare parts for your pride and joy”.
Tip- Avoid being too promotional in your signature file, as this will quickly get you banned or ignored. Some forums will require you to have a minimum post count or level before you can put links in your signature – this is a common anti-spam measure. Finally, some forums will only allow plain text links, meaning you can’t use anchor text. This isn’t as good for SEO, but if the forum is very active and you write a great call to action then you can see some serious traffic.
2. In-post links. Instead of linking in your signature, you add links to the individual posts you make. In-post linking works well for forum threads where someone asks a question or wants help about a problem. You give a structured, detailed response, and then write something like “read my American muscle car tuning guide for more” – remember to use anchor text where possible. You are offering your website as an additional resource to supplement your reply. Make sure your reply actually helps or offers something useful, and don’t just spam your link.
You are more likely to attract the attention of moderators by adding links to your main post, rather than your signature. Don’t link with every post you make, and consider adding links to sites other than your own.
Tip-In-post links provide a great opportunity for “deep linking” to pages on your website. Make sure that you link to the most relevant resource on your site, and not just the homepage. Not only will this have SEO benefits for your website, but it will also reduce your risk of being flagged as a spammer – if your links point to useful articles or pages deep in your site, this looks better than just linking to the home page. Use your signature file to link to your homepage, and use in-post links for deep linking!
3. Profile links – Another quick and easy way of building backlinks from forums is to make use of your public profiles. The majority of forums let users have a public profile where you can share personal information. On these profiles is often an option to share a “homepage URL” or “site URL”. Just add your link to the profile, and save your profile. Voila, you just got a one-off backlink for mere seconds of effort.
Are there any "secrets" for forum marketing?
There most certainly are! If you want to get the most from forum marketing, make sure you do the following:
- Always abide by the forum rules. Forum users, especially moderators, tend to be very good at spotting spammers who break the rules.
- Give before you take. Consider building up a number of posts before trying to add links to your signature or comments. Prove yourself a valuable member of the community.
- Post regularly. You should be making multiple posts per day across a number of forums. Posts don’t take long to make, so in an hour you should easily be able to make 10 posts or more. You will get the most links and traffic by doing this.
- Avoid digging up the past. A mark of true forum spammers is to resurrect old message threads, especially ones that are ranking in search engines for keyword phrases. Forum users call this “thread bumping”. You will quickly find yourself being ignored or banned if you dig up old threads.
To recap, forum marketing is a great way of building links to your website and getting more targeted traffic. Few people seem to use this powerful method fully, so there is huge potential in forum marketing.
If you only take one thing away from today’s post, you should remember to add value to any forum you join. Don’t just leech off the community for some easy links – you will see the biggest benefit if you are contributing great ideas in a friendly and polite manner.
Do you have any forum marketing tips or tricks you like to use? Are there any questions about forum marketing you would like answered? To share your knowledge or get an answer, just leave a comment below!