The name of the game is stop relying on Google for traffic.
If you’re not playing that game yet, then you’re going to be in for a rude awakening. Maybe not today, or tomorrow or even this year, but at some point the likelihood of your online business or affiliate site being affected is high.
So, I’m going to show you a detailed breakdown of one method that brings my sites hundreds of targeted visitors each day.
That method is forum marketing, and it’s one of the oldest sources of traffic online.
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever built a site that gets tons of traffic, but just doesn’t convert?
The answer is likely yes, at least I know it is for me, and while your conversion problem could be many things a lot of the time it’s your traffic source which is what makes forums perfect.
Traffic from forums is laser targeted.
Many people coming from forums are looking for a specific product are ready to buy. They know what they want, all they need is a little reassurance from other people that it’s the “best” product. All you need to do is provide them with that reassurance (assuming it actually is the best product).
And here’s how…
General Forum Rules to Live By
Before I give you the step by step method for generating forum traffic, here’s a few rules you need to follow.
- Follow the rules. Your larger forums actually have moderators watching for people who are just their to spam the forum.
- Your first post should not include a link. In fact, your first couple posts shouldn’t. Many times forums set a post count before you’re actually allowed to add a link anyways. If you do encounter a forum with a post count (usually its either 10 or 50 based on my experience) then you need to spread your posting out over a week or a couple weeks. There is no rush, the forum isn’t going anywhere.
- Do not troll 50 posts in one night; it is unnatural and you will get banned. I have personally been banned from 2-3 different forums.
- Don’t spam the forum, you will get banned.
- If you have nothing but 10 posts with links or even just 10 responses with links you will likely get banned.
- You’re not just there for links, you’re there to spark conversation and answer questions. Consider the link as a bonus and you’ll end up with more people clicking through.
- Don’t abandon the forum just because you get your link up. Continue to revisit the forums and make helpful posts with no links. All it takes is 5-10 minutes a week, that’s it.
- Fill out your profile, add a picture (even if it’s a picture of your dog).
- Don’t use the same e-mail and profile information across multiple sites. For instance, in my main niche I have 3 sites. I use 3 different pseudonyms and 3 different e-mails.
- Forum moderators know what you’re doing. It’s super simple to track the IP address that people are posting from. So don’t think you can set up 20 different e-mails, spam the forum and be safe. If you’re doing this from the same IP address you’ll get banned.
- This is about traffic, not links. The whole point is for you to gain additional traffic sources that will remain over a long period of time.
- Many of these links will be no follow links.Pull your head out of the do follow sandbox and move on. No follow links have value in terms of link diversity and building a natural link profile, besides, you’re not using forums for links. If you are then you’re doing it wrong.
- Bottom line is don’t be an idiot and ruin this for other people just because you’re too lazy to do anything but spam links.
How to Find Forums for Your Niche
There are millions of niches out there; unfortunately not every niche is going to have active forums. I’ve found if you can answer “Yes” to the following questions then you’re likely to find some relevant forums that will provide decent traffic.
Can you repair your product if it breaks?
For instance if your product is “bar stools” it’s not very likely people are going to be visiting a forum to repair their broken bar stool, but if you were promoting something like “best dog hair vacuums” I’d wager they are often online asking how the heck to get the dog hair out of the motor, cylinder, pinion, hose, etc.
Are there multiple products in your niche?
If someone wants to buy a vacuum specifically to clean up dog hair they’re liable to search for “the best dog hair vacuum.” Anytime you can add the word “best” in front of your keyword there are likely to be forums with people discussing your product.
Even if you can’t answer “Yes” to the above questions it’s there is still a possibility you can find some forums relevant to your niche.
Here are 3 methods I use to find forums:
1. Search Queries (copy and paste into search engine, replacing “Your Keywords”):
Your Keyword Forum
Your Keyword Forum Year
2. Search Queries (copy and paste into the search engine, replacing “Your Keywords”):
“Your Keyword” “powered by phpbb” inurl:/forum
“Your Keyword” “powered by phpbb” inurl:/community
“Your Keyword” “powered by vbulletin” inurl:/forum
“Your Keyword” “powered by vbulletin” inurl:/community
EDU And .GOV Forums – Targeted To Your Niche/Keyword
3. Search Queries (copy and paste into the search engine, replacing “Your Keywords”):
“Your Keyword” “powered by vbulletin” site:.edu
“Your Keyword” “powered by phpbb” site:.edu
“Your Keyword” “powered by vbulletin” site:.gov
You’ve Found the Forums, Now What
There’s really 2 types for forum marketing that work.
- Marketing as a user.
- Marketing as an authority.
Marketing as a User
This is the method that I employ most often.
Essentially I find forums in my niche and “use” them by creating topics or replying to topics already created and leaving a link back to my site.
Being helpful or disagreeing and then providing a helpful answer often works best.
Here’s an example of a forum response:
I totally agree with the above poster. My iRobot Roomba is the best investment I ever made. I run that thing every morning and it rarely breaks down.
I ended up getting one after reading this review: Insert Your Link
Some times my responses end up being a lot longer than that, or they may offer a comparison of multiple products, etc.
Another way to market as a user is to create a topic.
Here’s an example of creating a forum topic:
Hey guys, I just got done testing 3 different tablet computers and I thought you guys might find this information useful:
Insert Picture & 2-3 sentence review
Insert Picture & 2-3 sentence review
Insert Picture & 2-3 sentence review
End post with your recommendation.
Also if you want to take a look at some more reviews I found this site: Insert Your Link and this site: Insert Random Link (this helps keep it legit) pretty helpful.
These types of posts take a bit of time, but can be worth it sometimes. Though make sure the forum you’re on allows “guides” or “tutorials” or whatever you want to call them. I’ve spent a couple hours writing a nice little guide up only to have it deleted and get banned.
Marketing as an Authority
If you’ve built out an authority site and really want to establish yourself in some communities then this is the way to go.
It’s very important that you spend a lot of time creating a great profile and putting an unobtrusive link in your profile and signature. If you noticed above I don’t use signature links or profile links unless I’m marketing as an authority.
This is just my opinion, but I don’t recommend you using this method and linking back to your site, or if you do, do it rarely. It just looks shady.
This method will revolve around you creating a presence in the forum in a niche that you’re an expert in. You can then toss a link in your signature or profile and traffic will eventually flock to you if you’re doing it right.
I have tread lightly here.
I haven’t found a niche that has made it worth it to get super duper involved. Though, if you’ve followed Pat Flynn at all then you’re likely to know that this is really how he got started. If you read this post you’ll notice that he echoes a lot of what I talked about, as far as being helpful and not just using the forum for a link or promotion of your site.
Does This Actually Work?
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while then you know I’ve talked about using forums for traffic.
But that was then and this now…in a post Penguin world. Well, as far as traffic goes this still works amazing in some niches.
With the exception of Facebook and a couple other sources that site is receiving about 70 visitors a day from forums.
Whether this works or not for you is all a matter of taking action (bet you haven’t heard that before).
Forum Links and SEO
Last thing I want to say is be careful.
It’s not natural to suddenly get an influx of 20 forum links over night.
Find your forums, and space out your links.
Also keep in mind that when you build forum links they will either be naked URLs or anchor text. You need to use both. Strictly speaking from a conversion stand point naked URLs perform better. But it’s not natural to have nothing but naked URL links from forums. Occasionally people will link to your site with a “Click here to read the article I got this info from” or something of the like.
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