Have you used Forum Marketing to promote your blog?
We always talk about building community around our blogs which can engage and aid lot of useful thoughts in the posts. An engaging community can add a lot more than just comments, they can give feedback, suggestions or they can even contribute.
One of the good ways to build community is engaging your readers with the help of forum marketing. You can establish a forum for your readers on your blog.
The first dilemma is to either wait till you have a community on the blog and then starts a forum or should we go ahead and start it right away.
Do you wait for an engaging community, before opening the blog?
You know where I am going with this. Yes, I am in favor of opening it right away.
We can open a forum and promote it to create a community. You can use the community you have on your blog, or you can build a community on your forum which can later be diverted to your blog.
Once you decide to open a forum, the first question is which software you will use for your forums.
There are some free softwares like SMF, PHPBB or Mybb forums or paid softwares like VBForums, IP Board etc available for forum creations.
In case of forums the free softwares are really good. SMF and PHPBB are two very good options for the forum creation which are on par with each other.
The only difference I found is that in PHPBB you need some knowledge of coding to add mods, it is not an automatic process and require manual updates of PHP files. In SMF mod installation and updates can be done from admin panel, you might require some manual work depending on how many mods you install.
Both platforms have some good free themes to make it look attractive and many other useful mods to make it work.
Paid software's are good but I found them bit costly for the starters though they provides many options out of box like SEO and many other customizations.
SEO Options for Your Forum
One most annoying thing with the free forum softwares is that they are not SEO friendly out of box. There can be duplicate content as same content can be accessed via different URL’s, or the forum URL’s are not descriptive.
There is some work involved when you install the forum software, to make them SEO friendly. Benefit of doing that is huge, as it can get you additional visitor from search engines.
Descriptive URL's for forums are always a point of discussion, many people believe that they do not add anything in SEO and other says it does. You can decide which group you want to follow but they do add a value to the users. They provide an understanding about the topic to the users.
With the help of mods like pretty url's and some manual work you can make them look SEO friendly.
One other thing which you might want to do is setup RSS feed for your forums. This makes it easy to promote your forum in commentluv way, you will be able to create links to forum topics with the help of your RSS feed.
Spam is a big thing with the forums, lot of false accounts, garbage posts etc. There are few software which make life little easy, but be prepare to see something which you might not have seen in blogging platforms.
Here are the basic steps which you should take to fight spam:
- Ask readers to answer captcha or some random questions in order to create account. It's a one time activity so it should be fine with the users.
- You can request email verification before activating the account, so that spammers need to do one extra step.
- You can activate the account manually. It can be a good choice for the product support forum. Only people who have purchased the product can have an access to it.
Whatever you do, it is going to be a good fight.