Forum marketing might be the most underutilized traffic generation strategy on the planet.
Industry forums are a watering hole of potential leads and customers.
However, simply creating a signature and leaving generic posts isn’t going to get you a tidal wave of traffic. I’m going to show you how you can drive targeted traffic to your site using forum marketing.
In my Google Analytics, I checked my referral traffic for the month of May, which is a month where I did quite a bit of forum marketing. In the top ten of my referral traffic sources, Warrior Forum is number three. It brought me 387 visitors. In a different internet marketing forum, trafficplanet.com, brought me 121 targeted visitors.
Now, I’m going to teach you how you can do the same thing for your site, no matter what niche you’re in. The first step is to find forums in your niche that are active. This is the best search string you can probably use. You want to use your keyword in quotes plus forum.
Depending on your niche, sometimes this search string works really well, sometimes not so much, so I’m going to show you some other ones. This one obviously will bring up a ton of forum results. You can also use this search string, which is your keyword plus Powered by vBulletin and vBulletin is a forum software that a of people use for creating and managing forums. As you can see, this forum here, if you scroll to the bottom you can see it says “Powered by vBulletin”.
OK? This is a very common search string that you can use to find tons and tons of forums in almost any niche. You can also use this one, which is, baking plus this in quotes hot thread with new post, and this is another search string that a lot of forums tend to use at the bottom of their home page to show you which threads you want to check out.
These are three really, really good search strings and you can usually find plenty of forums in your niche, but if these aren’t bringing you enough results or you just want more, there’s another trick you can do to find more forums. What you want to do is, put in a niche specific keyword, so this is something only people in your niche would probably searching for.
If you’re in the baking niche, you don’t want to put something like baking or baking cookies, you want to put something very specific, so in this case, almond flour baking. Then, here you want to click more and then choose discussions from the list and that brings up a list of forums and posts a lot of blog comments, but mostly forums. As you can see, we have [??] which is a Q&A site and some other forums are going to be listed here. This is another thing you can use, so if you’re in internet marketing or SEO, you wouldn’t want to put SEO, you’d want to put something like link building and choose discussions.
Once you’ve found a forum, you want to see if it’s even worth your time. The first thing you want to do is look at the latest post info and look at when the last post was posted. Basically, what you’re doing is seeing how often people are posting on this site and how active it is, because there is no way to see how many active users there are, so this is a proxy way to do that. Under posted you want to look at the date and in that case that is yesterday, so that’s pretty recent. This is also from yesterday, which is pretty recent. As long as you see that, it’s probably worth making an account.
Your next step is to register. Find wherever it says register, click that button. Then, you want to fill out the user name or screen name, depending on how they phrase it on that particular forum, very carefully. You want to make it your brand name or your personal name. If you’re Neil, you want to do something like Quick Sprout. You wouldn’t want to put something like Neil 1987, like that. You want something very memorable and branded. Ideally, you’d put your brand name or your site name as your username. That’s important because people are going to be seeing that and associating your content on the forum with your brand. If this is something that’s not your brand, it’s going to be harder for them to associate the content with the name of your business or the name of your website.
Once you have an account and it’s all set up, your next step is to create a signature. A forum signature is important because that’s actually how you’re going to drive traffic to your site. Let me show you an example. Here’s Warrior Forum, I have an account here. Most forums are set up the same way, they have quick links, and then you click on edit signature. In your signature, you just want to create some call to action, a benefit driven call to action.
Consider it a little ad-words ad on the forum. Here, I put Google Plus only link building tips and strategies, that’s the benefit, and then I put a call to action, “Add me on Google Plus right now.” and that’s my link. You don’t want to make the mistake that a lot of people make with forum marketing, which is to try to get some SEO value from this link and they put exact match anchor text. That is not smart because really Google doesn’t consider these links particularly valuable and that over-optimized anchor text can hurt you down the road. Just make sure to use some sort of call to action in your anchor text that isn’t just your keyword because this is actually how you’re going to drive traffic to your site from the forum.
Once you have your account set up and your signature ready to go, your next step is to actually participate in the forum. To do that, you want to head over to the main area of the forum and see where most people hang out. As you can see, like most forums, the Warrior Forum has different sections and you can see how many people are viewing each section at one time and that’s obviously where you want to participate most often because that’s going to get the most eyeballs on your forum signature, which is going to make sure you have the most clicks.
If you do have a special area of expertise, like there’s a social media marketing forum, even though less people participate here, if you have a special area of knowledge that matches up to a certain section, you can, of course, participate there as well.
The next thing you’ll want to do is click on one of the areas that either has a lot of people viewing or is an area of expertise or both and click on it. You want to click at the thread titles and see where you can add value. That’s really important because a lot of people, when they do forum marketing, they make the mistake of just responding to as many as possible. In my experience, it’s definitely quality over quantity. If you can maybe add one to two quality posts to a thread per day, you can get quite a bit of traffic from that.
For example, this has something about adsense payment this month, so this is maybe where you could click on it. The person’s confused and you could help them out if you know about that, but in this case, this is about Bing Pay-Per-Click. I personally don’t know almost anything about Pay-Per-Click, so I probably wouldn’t even click on that.
On the other hand, this Google keyword tool, I have a lot of experience using that, so I’d click on that and I would see what’s going on and they are saying how the Google keyword tool is going away and you can’t choose the exact keywords. This person is actually mistaken. This is where I would respond and say something like, “Actually, the Google keyword tool is just being folded into the Google keyword planner and you can still get exact match anchor text etcetera. ” so, I’d add value.
Let me show you an example of a time that I value and it got me quite a bit of traffic. This person said they do the forum and they’re going to start doing interviews and they want to know how to optimize the pages that they’re going to publish the interview on. As you can see, I was right there, the second one, so everyone who views this thread, pretty much, is going to see my response and that’s not the case if you’re way down the list.
You definitely want to be early on and that’s why when you look at the forum section, you want to stick to the top as much as possible and not scroll down too much because then when you participate you’re going to be towards the bottom of the thread and not as many people are going to see you. I just gave a very brief, it doesn’t have to be that in depth, just exactly what I would do in his situation. I would include the keyword in the interview and in the title. That’s it. I gave him a helpful response and then I participated again because he asked a different question and I came back and responded.
This particular person, wholesaleblogger, is now a fan of me and he’s more likely to click through, and then everyone who sees this sees me as a helpful expert and they’re more likely to click through, and that was from two very, very brief posts, so it doesn’t have to be so in depth.
If you want to get a ton of traffic from forum marketing, you need to be actually creating your own thread. Participating in threads is great, but you also want to create your own threads. This right here, this particular post that I made at Warrior Forum, which is 17 untapped backlink sources, is literally copied and pasted from my site. I just copied the content and pasted it here. You can do the same thing. It doesn’t have to be original for a forum. Make sure it’s indexed on your site and once Google indexes it, you can head over to your forum of choice and then give them, maybe, a different version that’s a little shorter or more brief or maybe add something to it that’s exclusive for the forum, so it’s not really just copying pasting. For the most part, this is essentially copied and pasted and this particular thread, just this thread alone, has brought me hundreds and hundreds of targeted visitors and as you can see over 75 people have thanked me and that’s really important. That’s another reason why you want to provide quality in your responses and not just try to respond as many times as possible, because when people evaluate you, they’re going to be looking at how many post you have and how many times you’ve been thanked. If you have 620 posts like this and you’ve been thanked five times, it doesn’t look like you’re a very valuable member of the community, but if you’ve been thanked a lot, that’s going to increase your perception of expertise in the forum and increase the likelihood that people are going to click through.
That’s really all there is. You want to create an account that has your brand name as the user name. You want to participate as often as possible, but make sure you’re providing value every single time you participate in a thread. Then, when you publish something great on your site, wait for it to get indexed and then head to the form and then paste it there and maybe make some modifications and that’s going to get you some really, really great traffic.