If you’ve been blogging or online marketing for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard about the power of forum marketing. It’s a very basic way to drive traffic to your sites, but it definitely works. You simply find forums that are related to the website or blog that you’re promoting, become a member, and post regularly with a link back to your site in your forum signature. It sounds pretty basic, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you go on a full-on forum posting spree, and PISS OFF the members and/or the administrators of each forum….
1. Don’t use automated software or buy bulk forum posts from overseas outsourcers. This not only is a bad idea, but it can get your IP address banned from forums that could be a real asset to you in the future. Also, people can sense BS a mile away, and will report you almost immediately.
2. Add as much value as possible! When replying to forum posts, always try to answer the questions that you already know the answer to. If you don’t know it, do some research and come back to it. The more helpful you are, the more likely people are going to click your signature link and come to your website.
3. Don’t create a signature link when you’re brand new to a forum! You will want to regularly post for at least a week (preferably 2 weeks) before you add a link to your signature. A lot of forum members (as well as admins) will think you are just link spamming if you come out of nowhere, posting in a bunch of threads with a link to your site. In fact, many forums already combat this by not allowing forum signatures until you reach 15 posts (or similar). The best way to handle it, is to post 2 or 3 times per day for a full week (as a safeguard), and THEN add your signature link. By this time, some of the forum members may have gotten to know you, trust you, and like you.
I have owned a few different vBulletin forums over the years, and I always used a plugin that was a 1-click ban. (IP address, email address, etc…), so don’t think they won’t drop the ban hammer on you if you are too aggressive… Slow, steady, and adding value is the way to go.
Once you’ve established some credibility on these forums, you’ll not only want to post replies to other people’s questions, you’ll also want to start creating your own informative posts. If you give some really good information and show that you’re an expert (without being too cocky of course), then people will WANT to find out more about you, and click on your signature links. It’s pretty much like article marketing with a resource box, but it has more of a community feel to it, and you don’t have to worry so much about strict guidelines. Just make sure you read the forum rules before you post.
You’ll want to post regularly to at least 2 or 3 forums to get started. It should take you no more than an hour each day to make some posts at all of them. It will get you both exposure, as well as backlinks. If you haven’t added forum marketing to your overall traffic plan, then you should seriously get started. It’s one of the easiest, and most effective free forms of traffic out there.
How Can I Find Forums to Post to?
The best way I have found is to just do a quick Google search for your main keywords, along with the word “forum”, like this:
internet marketing forum
sports cars forum
This one seems the most obvious, but it really is the easiest way to find them. There’s also a website called Board Tracker
http://www.boardtracker.com/ . This is a search engine that searches through millions of blog posts in just a few seconds. Just type in your keywords, or search strings, and the results will be from only forums and message boards. This can be a great way to find some forums in your target market.
Another site that’s been around for a long time is called Big Boards http://www.big-boards.com/ , they list the top message boards / forums, and even have a rankings section found here: http://rankings.big-boards.com/
So, if you haven’t tried forum marketing, I urge you to add it to your daily activities and see for yourself. Of course it does take some effort, but if you stick with it, you’ll surely tap into some highly targeted traffic that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Have you used forums as a source of targeted traffic? If so, what strategies have you used?