When you hear other talk about creating a forum for their business website, you will often hear two legitimate warnings: 1) It is hard to get people using your forum on regular basis 2) You have to spend time weeding out spam. However, a forum optimized for content and SEO also has a chance to drive a lot of relevant traffic and long-tail searches in search engines such as Google. And if you are already spending time creating a brand in various communities and forums, why not use that time building your own forum community?
Above was my thinking when I created http://webhelpforums.net, and since then I have learnt a lot of things which I will now share 🙂
- Buy a separate domain: It gives you the opportunity to choose a good domain name for both SEO and branding purposes. If you are lucky it will give you one more domain in search results. It allows you to separate security aspects of running a forum from your main business website.
- Start with only a few boards in your forum: Nothing is worse than a forum with lots of near empty boards. You need to start slow to attract new forum members. Active boards with ongoing discussions and new posts will help do that.
- Be active in your own forum: For better or worse, this is your forum. Post articles, answer questions etc. to increase the quality and make the forum appear active.
- Be sure to promote the forum every way you can: It can e.g. be in articles where you write “discuss this article in our forum” or emails to customers such as order confirmations and newsletters.
- Consider allowing do-follow links in signatures: Although allowing do-follow links will attract many of the wrong people, it will also help you attract quality members that will be willing to spend their time posting useful answers, comments and articles in your forum. If you do allow do-follow links, be sure to look through member posts and delete their signatures if they lead to places of dubious quality.
- Combat robots forum spam: One effective measure is to add some nonstandard questions such as “spell company name with spaces in-between” or similar. Something truly unique to your forum. You can add new questions over time if spam becomes a problem.
- Combat other forum spam: Make sure to exclude member profile URLs in robots.txt. This will null and void most automated and semi automatic forum spam.
By following above suggestions, your forum will have a good chance to take off and help drive relevant traffic to your business 🙂