Using Forums To Get Traffic To Your Site
Participating in forums is a good way to get a better understanding of a typical visitor and the kind of issues they are having in your niche.
Simply reading the forums on your niche topic can give you this information but if you participate in the forum by initiating new discussions and answering questions, it can also be a source of traffic to your website too.
Finding Forums To Participate In
It’s not very hard to find a forum.
Go to Google and type in your niche topic and “forum” or “message board” or “discussion”.
It’s sure to bring back some results. If your niche is a sub niche or very small then think about more general niches that it fits into. For instance, there may not be many forums that specialize or talk exclusively about gender selection of your baby but there might be a sub section in a forum about pregnancy or health in general.
There are other places to find forums or discussion groups, like big-boards.com which is a directory of message boards (an old name for forums). Personally I haven’t found these very good.
A simple Google search is good enough in most cases.
If you have got to the stage of publishing a website in a particular niche, there is a good chance you know many of the important websites in that niche anyhow. You will probably know if they have a forum and how active it is.
You don’t want to go overboard though.
Finding 20 forums in your niche will only dilute your efforts if you participate in all of them or overwhelm you to such an extent that you give up.
Find one or two that you think fit your niche or that you like and focus on those.
Making A Contribution
Once you have a couple of forums, start to participate. It’s as simple as that.
You probably want to try to answer questions more than ask them but it really depends on your goals.
If you want to be seen as an authority or somebody that knows what they are talking about, then answer questions. You could also initiate new discussions provided you aren’t asking “newbie” style questions.
The aim is to showcase your knowledge on the topic without being arrogant about it. That’s why answering questions is good because you are helping people without forcing an opinion on people.
In keeping with this respectful approach, you don’t want to splash your website url all over the place.
Adding your website url is how you are going to get traffic to your site but I would suggest you are very low key about this.
You want to put the url in your profile and the signature box at the bottom of every post you make on the forum.
People will either see your signature box as a consequence of reading a forum thread or they will click on your forum name, which also accompanies any post you make, which will take them to your profile.
They can then decide if they want to visit your site.
Some people get very creative with their signature box. In other words they make it very enticing to click through to the site mentioned in the signature box but this really depends on the niche you are in.
For instance, there are some very creative signature boxes in the Warrior forum but this is a marketing forum so people accept this. It probably wouldn’t go down as well in a knitting or cake decorating forum.
So tailor your style to your audience.
I would suggest you don’t put your website url in your profile until you have 20 or so posts on the forum. The same goes for putting something in the signature box at the bottom of any post you make on the forum.
By this stage, you should be an established member of the forum and not a blow in or drive by forum abuser. You have established credibility and value to the other forum members and they will accept and maybe even welcome a chance to find out more about what you think on the topic.
Don’t put links to your site in the message part of a forum post except on rare occasions or when you have really established trust and value to the forum members.
Again, play this by ear.
Once you have been on a forum for any length of time, you will know what is acceptable and unacceptable.