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A Complete Guide to Using Forum Marketing to Drive Targeted Traffic

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Forum marketing is one of the most effective and underutilized ways to market your business and drive qualified traffic to your website.

Thousands of forums are created every year online, each of them with a huge variety of topics created and visited by people who are passionate about the topics.

By posting on forums that are relevant to your site’s content, you can boost your website traffic significantly, and it won’t cost you a penny.

What is Forum Marketing?

A forum marketing strategy involves posting relevant and useful content to establish a meaningful presence in the community by participating in relevant forums in your niche market. This can take time.

A successful marketing campaign is about getting your brand known, building your authority, and establishing your credibility and trust in your business rather than engaging in overt and aggressive sales pitches.

Using forum profiles to build links used to be very effective, but Google now takes special note of links on forum profiles since they tend to make up part of a spammy link profile.

Because of this, it is not recommended that you include anchored links to your website in your profile.

On the other hand, the use of forums is an effective way to establish yourself as an authoritative source of information within a particular industry or niche over time.

Search engines love content, but they tend to enjoy online conversations more.

Live threads generate activity from around the world, causing a viral effect that attracts search engines.

How Forums Work

Forums (also called message boards, bulletin boards, community forums, or online discussion groups) are dynamic websites that allow like-minded individuals to exchange ideas, ask questions, get answers, and discuss topics on common interests.

The difference between a blog and a forum is that blogs are usually written by one user, and their content is typically open to the responses of others.

Every member of a forum is usually allowed to post and start a new topic.

Forums are also different from chat rooms.

Typically, chat room members are online at the same time and communicate at the same time, while Internet forum members post messages that can be viewed by anyone logging on.

Online forums are also usually more topic-specific than chat rooms.

Forums bring people with similar interests together.

In promoting a business’s product or service, you want to reach out to people who are most likely to be interested.

You can find them by visiting community forums with topics related to your service.

The members of a forum tend to develop a sense of community among themselves, and the topic can be anything.

It is possible to find a forum for just about any niche among the tens of thousands of forums that are available on the Internet.

Most forums focus on a single subject with several categories.

As an example, if it is a forum about health and wellness, you’ll see different categories including nutrition, weight loss, physical fitness, etc.

You will find a forum specifically created for every hobby, business, or topic you can think of.

Advantages of Forum Marketing

There are lots of good reasons why you should be doing forum marketing as there are many distinct advantages:

  1. As long as you become part of the community yourself and are not there just to drop a link and leave, forum marketing can be an incredibly effective way to drive qualified, laser-targeted traffic to your website.
  2. Using forums, you can learn about people’s problems and challenges, because the majority of the posts you’ll read in them will be about the difficulties, frustrations, needs, and wants of a given community within the forum.
  3. Your ability to post meaningful posts and respond to questions builds credibility and establishes your reputation as an authority within a niche community.
  4. You’ll find online forums for almost any niche, and many of them contain people who are extremely passionate about their subject. Take dogs, for example. Pet owners gather on forums to discuss the joys and difficulties of owning a furry friend.
  5. You can target forums according to the niche you are promoting.

As already mentioned, when you register, do not include an anchored link to your website in your forum signature feature is enabled.

Google’s considers forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature as a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.

You are advertising your site with every post you make, and it’s free.

However, when people first begin using forum marketing, one of the biggest mistakes they make is they are so eager to use their signatures, that they flood the forum with meaningless posts and get flagged for spam.

Post thoughtfully and don’t forget to include some quality content in your posts.

This will help you gain a positive reputation as a forum contributor and build your online presence and profits by building links in forums.

Locating the Best Forums

The first step in forum marketing is to locate the right forums.

To find a forum for your needs, create a set of highly targeted keywords and phrases that best describe the product that you are marketing. I

f you are providing a service, then create a set of keywords that best describe the service, such as seo, social media, plumbing, roofing, etc.

The best place to start is on a search engine like Google. For example, if you’re looking for an SEO-related forum, you can use search strings like:

  • seo forum
  • seo community
  • intitle:seo forum
  • seo inurl:blogs
  • seo answers
  • seo bulletin board
  • seo online discussion

This should bring up lots of options.

You can also use the following search string: your keyword + “Powered by vBulletin”.

vBulletin is a forum software that a lot of people use for creating and running forums.

You can also use the following approach to find live discussions about the topic in which you’re interested, as questions are being posted:

Your keyword list should include questions using each keyword phrase.

Think about the questions a potential customer might ask that your product or service can answer by putting yourself in their shoes.

Using this method is very simple and does not require extravagant word combinations. Using common sense is all that is needed.

For example, if you are marketing a plumbing business, this is how you can transform that keyword phrase into a question:

How can I fix a leaking tap?

In most cases, this system will work best if you include the question mark and also put the double-quotes around the question.

To build a longer list and increase the volume of leads you receive, create variations of each question.

Simply enter your keyword targeted questions including the double-quotes and question mark into their search engine and you will instantly get a ton of the latest forums and discussions online related to your niche.

Continuing the above example, you could try:

  1. “What steps do I need to take in order to fix a leaking tap?”
  2. “How can you tell if you have a septic tank??”
  3. “Can you install a toilet on a four-inch cast in a basement floor?”
  4. “What is the fastest way to fix a broken tap?”

Do this for every keyword in your list.

How to Find Forums in Your Niche

Try searching with double-quotes surrounding the niche keyword and the word forum.

You may put the quotes around the niche keyword excluding the word forum in the following manner:

“niche keyword forum” “niche keyword” forum

Another Google search tool you can use is the tilde (~) operator.

The tilde (~) operator takes the word immediately following it and searches both for that specific word and for the word’s synonyms.

It also searches for the term with alternative endings.

The tilde operator works best when applied to general terms and terms with many synonyms.

As with the (+) and (–) operators, put the tilde (~) next to the word, with no spaces between the ~ and its associated word.

For example: ~lightweight laptop NOT ~ lightweight laptop.

Here’s what you can do to find forums in your niche using the tilde (~) operator:
forum ~niche keyword forum ~keyword1 ~keyword2 “forum” ~niche keyword “forum” ~keyword1 ~keyword2

Here is how we can apply this to the dog training niche:
forum ~dog training “forum” ~dog training “forum” ~dog ~training

“forum” ~dog ~training, this will tell Google to search for the EXACT word forum, and then return all the possible synonyms for the word dog and the word training.

The tilde search operator comes in handy if you’re having difficulty with your niche keywords.

The next step is to determine whether the forums and discussion groups are going to be worth your while. You will want to consider the following things when planning a marketing campaign on a particular forum:

  1. Is the forum a good match your niche?
  2. Does the forum contain enough members?
  3. Is the forum active? When was the date of the last post? You can find out how active a particular forum is by evaluating the response and viewing figures of recently posted threads on the forum. You can also check out how many people have been online at any one time.
  4. Is the forum private or is anyone allowed to join?
  5. Is the forum a paid membership?

Registering as a Member

The next step is to become a member of the forum once you have found one that meets your criteria. Choose a username very carefully.

If you have a brand name, a site name, or any other name that’s memorable and branded, then use that.

Do not use numbers.

It is important for you to choose a name for your content since it will be associated with it.

It will be more difficult for users to associate your username with your content if your username is unrelated to the content you are posting.

Creating a Forum Signature

Following the setup of your account, you will need to create a forum signature.

Forum signatures are blocks of information that appear at the bottom of every forum post.

It is important to create a forum signature because that is how you can drive traffic to your website.

Irrespective of whether the forum allows them or not, you should not use exact match anchor text to your site in your forum signature.

As a result of widespread abuse in the past, Google views them as part of a spammy link profile.

There is no SEO benefit to them, and they could cause you problems in the future.

Put in a strong, benefit-driven call to action that will resonate with your target audience in your signature.

A dog groomer, for example, could include “Tips and advice for dog lovers”.

If you wanted to put a link to your site, it could be “Save Money by Grooming Your Dog at Home”.

This is how you can subtly promote your products or services using a forum signature.

You could come across as a manipulative spammer if you spam forums with random posts with the intention of spreading your signature across multiple pages.

In general, the more relevant the content of the forum (to your signature links), the better.

Posting frequently in a relevant section of the forum is important.

Always check the forum’s “terms of use” regarding signature links to ensure you are following the rules.

Do not stuff keywords into your signature links.

Add Real Value

Once you have become a member of the forum, it is time to establish your reputation as an expert on the forum.

What’s most important is to get out there and start interacting with the community and providing meaningful advice whenever you can.

You will be earning the trust of those around you as you become an expert, and this could lead to qualified leads for your business.

It’s not a good idea to reply to threads just to boost your post count and display your signature in another thread.

There is no substitute for quality.

A quality post or two per day can get you some good traffic.

A major part of becoming an expert on a forum is responding thoughtfully and helpfully to highly visible threads.

The best way to answer posts that are questions is to provide helpful responses to the original poster.

The original poster and others who read the thread will appreciate your effort as a result.

It is vital to know how to answer questions in a way that provides value to the original poster, but does not reveal everything.

If you reveal everything in your answer, people will not need to visit your website because all of your information will be available on the forum.

Maintain a prominent position on the forum at all times.

You will not be seen if you scroll too far down the thread since you’ll be at the bottom.

Be concise when answering.

Provide a concise and direct answer to the question.

It is important to remember that when you provide value to someone, they will view you as an expert or an authority.

Following are tips that will enable you to position yourself as an expert in your niche:

  1. Answer niche-specific questions whenever possible.
  2. Aim to establish yourself as part of the community by providing real value rather than self-promotion.
  3. Post frequently and consistently.
  4. If you want to drive traffic to your site, you’ll need to create your own threads. If you have a very popular post on your site, you can post it in the forum.
  5. Publish original threads offering helpful advice. If you have a content piece that has done really well on your site and on social media, you can use a shorter version of the article as the basis of your thread.
  6. Establish relationships with other active posters.
  7. Keep an eye on the most popular threads.
  8. Once you have established a strong presence on the platform, you can begin to post content with a link back to your site.

Optimizing Your Profile

Members usually choose their own user name and password once they have been approved by the forum’s administrator or moderator.

Passwords are sometimes provided.

Each post can feature an avatar, or a photograph or picture, supplied by the member.

Provide value by posting relevant and meaningful content, and actually helping others.

Make sure you have a gravatar (your actual photo, not your company logo) attached to the email address of your website, and the same photo on all of your web properties including your website and social media profiles.

When people see the same photo on your website and social media sites, this will reinforce the trust they have in you.

In addition, when people see your meaningful and relevant posts on lots of forums in your niche, they are more likely to click through to your website.

With this technique, you’ll get the kinds of natural links that search engines love, and you’ll be building your brand and authority in the process.

Remain Professional Always

Although a forum may be a casual environment, all aspects of your forum presence should remain professional at all times when representing a business.

User names and pictures should reflect the personality of your business.

The bio section of a forum profile should also include all relevant information about you.

Make sure to include background information on the topic of the forum while avoiding sales talk.

Before you publish a post, make sure it is well thought out and free of spelling and grammar errors.

As a newly registered member, you should not immediately begin promoting your products or services.

Others will think less of you as a result, and you won’t accomplish much on the platform.

Make sure you become acclimated to the platform and avoid coming off as a marketer, which will result in your account being removed.

Find an introduction thread to get started. Aim to reach a post count of at least 20 by providing thoughtful comments in some active threads.

Forming Relationships on Forums

Take steps in forming relationships with some of the other dedicated members as you become more invested in the forum.

You can have a huge impact on your business if you establish relationships with respected and prolific forum posters.

In time, you’ll be able to recognize some names of others, and they’ll recognize you when they see your posts.

You’ll even have the chance to send personal messages to some of these people.

You can use this technique to build a closer relationship with others on the forum.

In most cases, it is done directly through the forum, and it isn’t thought of as intrusive as sending an email.

There are all kinds of reasons why you might want to do this, including to continue a discussion in private, to ask additional questions, or even to introduce yourself.

Aside from the obvious benefit of trying to sell your product, forming these kinds of relationships can provide several advantages, including:

  • You can ask these people to check out your product and provide a testimonial;
  • You can ask these people for feedback regarding your market, such as the types of things they look for in a product, etc.

Relationships can take you places you never expected. For example, imagine that you are promoting a training program for animals. If you form a relationship with a petstore owner, he or she may promote your product in the store!


  • Make sure you pick the most appropriate forum for your business.
  • Take the time to learn about its rules and regulations, and adhere to them.  
  • Be helpful and earn the trust of forum users.
  • Avoid spamming
  • Outsourcing forum marketing should be done with great care.

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