Forums have always been tricky to get into if you are a marketer. Forums are usually where people discuss issues and topics or where people look for answers to questions. Being a hub of problems and solutions, forums naturally pose a big marketing and promotional opportunity (i.e. putting YOUR solutions in front of those problems).
However, almost all decent forums are sensitive to spammers. That is why if you plan to get involved in forums with marketing guns-a-blazin’, you may find yourself banned by your first post. This is also why most SEO practitioners don’t include it in their SEO campaign, they can’t backlink spam the damn thing.
Don’t get discouraged though. The fact that forums are strict and harder to get into than any SEO strategy is also an indication of quality. Forums have benefits and advantages that go beyond the number of backlinks it can provide for your website. Most established forums are also favored by Google, giving high amounts of link juice to links you post in them.
As we are doing Evergreen SEO, we have to do away with the old and ineffective ways of using forums to build our business and backlink networks. This is how we get involved in forums the Evergreen SEO way.
Basic Evergreen SEO Principles for Forum Involvement
- Goodwill is a forum’s currency. If you enter a forum mentally counting the amount of backlinks you can create in there, you’ll be out as soon as you put your first post. Enter a forum with the purpose of establishing your reputation and credibility in the niche and you’ll last forever. Aim to build as much goodwill as you can among the forum members from the start and you’ll gain a lot of targeted audience for your business.
- It’s hard because it’s worth it. Most quality forums put a lot of props on quality members. That’s why most forums have built-in reputation systems or karma systems where you earn points usually given to you by other members. Great forums also show how long you are as a member and how many posts you have, among other things. This is to ensure that you are not a fly-by-night spammer. Once you have achieved a certain level of reputation and have verified that you are a quality member, forums often give incentives like the ability to post outbound links and access to exclusive areas. Those perks make the hard work worth your while.
- Be peaceful. By saying so, I mean stay away from heated conflicts. I know some people would say “there is no such thing as negative publicity” and “being controversial gets you attention” but in the world of forums, it can get you banned from the site. So stay away from drama, just keep helping other people out to get yourself noticed.
Evergreen SEO – Forum Involvement Method
STEP 1: Find 3-5 quality forums to get involved with.
To start, you can visit big-boards.com, boardreader.com, or boardtracker.com and search for forums using niche-specific keywords.
After you’ve compiled your list comes the hard part – picking out 3-5 of them that you would like to get involved in for the long-haul. It’s not much of a “which forum is good” decision but more of a deep commitment on your part to build your reputation and not destroy the forum with shameless self-promotion. Here’re some general guidelines you can observe when hand-picking your forums.
- At least 1,000 members and 10,000 posts indicates that a forum is not new and have an active following.
- There should be a lot of posts made “today” which indicates members posts on a regular basis.
- Threads should not be overrun by “that’s nice”, “awesome advice”, “I agree”, and similar posts. This is an indication of spam. The forum should have real quality posts from real quality members.
- Check the user guidelines. See if they allow outbound self-promotional links on the signature, are there any restrictions on new users, and what special privileges are given to high-reputation members.
Since you are only focusing on a few forums, it’s not going to be hard to remember the individual guidelines among these forums.
STEP 2: Create a quality profile.
Register and create your profile immediately, even if you have no intention of posting now. Some forums need you to be a member for a certain period of time before you can post, so it won’t hurt to create a profile now.
Fill up your profile with information that proves you are a human being. Bring some personality into your profile as well. However, as many e-mail harvesters frequent forums, only put e-mail information you are comfortable being made public.
STEP 3: Get involved.
Forums are usually a tight-knit group so you can’t just go in and enter any conversation you want. You have to pace yourself in order to build your reputation and get yourself involved in the community.
Building your reputation up in the community usually involves 3 levels:
- Newbie. As a newbie, you should get acquainted with the forum first and let the members get to know you well. Forums usually have an “Introduce Yourself” thread so it’s good to start there. It is typical for newbies to ask a lot of questions and help from other members so your posts and replies should mostly be asking questions and advice. You can also start a thread of your own asking for help, tips, and advice from the veterans.
- Contributor. You are no longer a newbie, you have several posts under your belt and some people know you already. Now it’s the time to be a contributor and actually help other newbies with their problems. Your posts should consist mostly of very effective and helpful tips to question threads. Focus also on solving a thread and not jumping from one thread to another.
- Expert. You are a veteran and gaining a good reputation in the forum. People know you and are open to listening to your advice. At this level, you should focus on starting your own sticky threads. You should start your own thread giving away some exclusive information like a detailed method, a 30-day experiment, a detailed review (if allowed), an exclusive offer (if allowed), etc.
Once you are considered an expert in the forum, you’ll receive benefits beyond merely putting a high PR backlink in your signature. You’ll start to realize that you are getting more traffic in your website and you’ll be able to convert more sales with these traffic. After all, you have built your reputation and people actually look forward to your recommendations.
Evergreen Forum SEO takes honest and hard work. In a world where everyone looks for the fast and easy (that’s why automated spamming software sells), forums and search engines put a premium on those few who really build a reputation and provide quality help.
That’s why this method is very effective and remains effective, it’s something automated software and those looking for the easy way just can’t duplicate. Traditional forum spamming techniques may yield faster short-lived results, but hard work pays a lot more dividends in the end.