Forums can be a lot of fun. Plus, they can reward you in the end, if that is, you follow some of the tips I’ve outlined below. Forums can also be profitable, allowing you to put cash into your pocket. A lot of people are trying to start forums these days and sometimes they can be really successful. Follow the tips below to learn how to make your forum a successful one. Continue reading
This is something nearly everyone wants to do, whether you have a website, blog, or forum. Increased traffic leads generally to more revenue from your advertisements, increased community engagement, and, if you have something interesting on your site, more people who will return for information in the future. Once you get the traffic flowing, it tends to grow off of itself as long as you continue to provide good content and/or services. But the problem most of us face is how to get that initial traffic going. Continue reading
So, let’s say you’ve just started a new forum. You’ve sorted out the theme, rules, sections and all that lovely stuff needed to kick start off the community. What is left to make it’s presence known? The members are yet to make their debut! The members are the very heart of any online forum, they keep it alive and running. You won’t get very far unless Continue reading
If you are someone that has spent any amount of time on the Internet, then you might have noticed that some websites always contain “www” in their URL and then there are some that are fading away from that trend, and do not contain the “www” in the URL. However, how do you do this? Is it simple? Is it a good thing to do or does it just look nice? Well, sit down and let me explain a few things.
First off, Continue reading
SEO. The dread of most website and forum owners. That horrible thing that is always in the back of your mind, picking away at your brain with no clear way of solving the how and why. Google, while it can be your best friend is at the same time your greatest enemy. How can you truly use words to benefit your site?
The common thing I see happen all the time on blogs is an article being written to best interest the readers. This is obviously a necessity, if no-one reads the post what is the point of making it? However, once this post is written, tags are then added to it that somewhat relate to it, maybe are mentioned in the article once, but in general they are just what the writer believes should be connected to the post. Unfortunately, this is not the way it works. These tags are your most important source of SEO, but only if used correctly.
So, how do you write an article that both interests your reader, doesn’t become too repetitive and despite this uses your keywords several times over and in the correct context? It is starting to sound rather complicated isn’t it? At first it is, and it will take you a lot longer to write your articles. However, after some practice things will go a lot easier and quicker. I am by no means an expert at this, it still takes me a long time to get my articles to a level at which I am happy with them, but it is possible.
Start by selecting your keywords, but stay away from the obvious. Using words or phrases such as “successful forum” or “big traffic” are not going to get you anywhere. Why? There are just far too many occurrences of these particular words and phrases on the internet for them to warrant any attention. Google uses complex algorithms for its search ranking system and it isn’t going to list you above all the hundred of other sites with content similar to yours.
Instead you need to stand out. Look to use phrases that are a bit more unusual, or that have a greater meaning. Select a phrase to build your article around such as “value of forum currency”. Once you have chosen this phrase you can start building your article. Do not use this direct phrase more than twice in the article though, for this is where similes come in. Similes are one of the most underrated and underused items in SEO and Google does recognize them to a certain extent, as long as they aren’t too farfetched.
Once you have built your article around this particular phrase, you will want to locate keywords that are similar. For example with “value of forum currency”, keywords would be inflation, deflation and exchange rate. These are all related to currency, but you would also have to include words such as message board, threads, posts and topics. Tying all these in together within your article isn’t noticeable to the reader, but it is to Google. Have a go, experiment and explore the English language, it could be a good experience!
This article has been awarded “Editor’s Choice” by Twisted Fairytale for its originality and helpful content.
Coming up with a good name for your website or forum is very important. A good name could mean the difference between a website which is successful, and one that it not. When you are going through the process of selecting a name, there are proven techniques which are designed to come up with as many names for your website as possible, and then eliminate the names which you do not like.
Before examining the method for coming up with a good website name, you need to come up with a list of requirements which you have for a name to be a “good name.”
Requirements for a Good Website Name
This list is fairly subjective, so feel free to use your own list of requirements. It is important, though, that you understand your own personal list of requirements for a good website name. Here is the list that I recommend.
1. The .com or .org domain must be available
I recommend only registering .coms or .orgs, because of the infrequency at which .net domains are typically used. If you tell someone you know in person to visit yourwebsite.net, they are as likely as not to type in yourwebsite.com instead, and go to one of your competitors. If you would like to use a .club domain, or even a .net, though, that is your choice.
2. The name must be short and to the point.
Long names are hard to remember, so it is best to keep away from them. Usually a name is a combination of two english language words: ForumPromotion, CreateSpace, DigitalPoint, StackOverflow, etc, etc. Most of the domain names for single english words have been taken, such as Amazon.com and Hover.com, so looking into those names may be a waste of time. Names which are composed of three words are usually too long, unless one of the words is “the” (such as TheAdminZone.com). Also, a name can be a misspelling of a real english language word, such as Google, which is a misspelling of Googol. In summary, there are three types of good, short names: One word names, two word names, and one word misspelled names.
3. The name must be pronounceable by yourself
This is very important. If the name is a tongue twister, which is common for two word names, then it is not a good names. You need to be able to say it. Also, if you have a speech impediment and cannot pronounce a particular name with good clarity, it is best not to use that name (you are the website’s founder, so you will be saying the name a lot).
Method for Generating a Lot of Website Names
This technique is known as brainstorming. It is seen by experts as one of the best ways to come up with a large number of names in a short period of time. It requires only a piece of paper (or a text editor), and a pencil (or a pen, or a keyboard). You can turn on some music if that helps your creativity flow, but that is purely a matter of personal preference.
What you will need to do is write down a list. A very, very long list. It is imperative that you keep writing until you have a lot of names written down. It is also crucial that you do not take a break from writing these names down. Do not check whether a domain name is available, and do not stop to consider whether a name is a good one. Just write down names.
Here is what you will need to do:
Step #1: Write down your keywords
Write down a list of “keywords” which apply to your website. For example, if you have a debate forum, then those keywords would be: “Debate, Policy, News, Politics, Washington, etc,”
Step #2: Expand your list of keywords
Find a thesaurus, such as the one from reference.com, and type each of your keywords into the thesaurus. Add any good synonyms to your list of keywords.
Step #3: Write down two word combination names
Start making a second list. This is a list of potential names. Keep writing down possible variations on your keywords until you can’t think of any more. The best way to convey how you should do this is by example. Again, using a debate forum as an example, here is a list of possible names which is right off the top of my head.
Here are a few different formats which you can use in coming up with new items for your list.
(keyword)(place) example: DebateSpot
(keyword)(activity) example: DebateTalk
(verb)(keyword) example: ThinkDebate
(keyword)(keyword) example: PolicyNews
Step #4: Write down misspellings of keywords.
Start by taking your list of keywords and removing vowels from each. Remember, a vowel is one of: A E I O U. You can also try replacing one vowel with a different vowel, because several of them sound pretty similar when pronounced. Also, if you think of other misspellings, write those too. Here is an example, again using a debate forum. Note that if you don’t like “Web 2.0” names, then you can skip this step.
Most of the names you will come up with will not be good, but if you keep writing for long enough, there will be good names in your list. The key is sorting through them.
Method for Selected a “Good” Website Name From a List of Possibilities
Now that you have a three lists of names, combine them into a single list.Taking the lists I mentioned above, that list would be:
Every item in this long list of names is a potential name, but since brainstorming is a very spontaneous process, 90% of these names will be, to be completely honest, awful. You need to weed out the bad names. This is done by applying your list of name requirements to your long list of possible names. Here is the process which I recommend. You can use a different process, but that is your choice.
1. Use a Bulk Domain Name Availability Checker
This process will usually weed out more than half of your candidates. Go to the Godaddy Bulk Domain Name Availability Checker, type in your really long list of candidates, select which TLDs you are interested in, and press the submit button. The list of domains which Godaddy returns should be your new list of candidates.
2. Go through each existing name and roll it around in your mind.
For each name in your list, stop for a moment and ask yourself: is this a good name? If it’s a bad name, remove it. It comes down to a matter of personal preference.
3. Try Pronouncing each remaining name.
Say the name aloud. If it’s a tongue twister, remove it.
4. For each remaining name, google it.
Google the name to make sure that it’s not being used by someone who is likely to sue you. This is particularly important if you are making a product. Less so for a website.
5. Do a Patent & Trademark Search.
This is not required, but generally a good idea. Go to the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office, or the trademark office in your country (or maybe both!) and type in the name into their trademark search system, both with and without the TLD in it. If you find a trademark, then seriously consider whether using this name is worth the risk of legal action. If not, then the name is good.
The list of names which you have remaining after this process are all good names. You can pick the one which you like the most, or one of them randomly. It doesn’t matter, since each has fit your own personal criteria.
This process of coming up with names is a good one, and will produce a long list of potential names which you can use for your website.
This article was first posted on our blog on 02/04/2009. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.
Well, by reading the title, you can pretty much assume what this article is about: Me teaching you how to promote a forum. (The blind leading the blind, right?) I can tell you that every forum owner wants more members and posts, but barely any of them are trying! If you are interested in starting a forum, you have to look at where you want to be, find another forum owner that has met this goal, and ask yourself, “Can I do what this person has done to make their forum ‘great’?” If your answer is “no”, you should definitely reconsider opening your own forum.
Building the Castle
So, you decided that you wanted to start your forum, eh? Well, to start off, don’t ever make the forum in two-and-a-half minutes, go and advertise it, and then say you’ll do all the “minor stuff” later. I’m very sorrry to say that it just doesn’t work like that, because, the minor stuff matters more than a lot of new forum administrators think it does. Here are some things you may want to look over before getting your forum out to the public;
A Good Logo/Banner – Nobody likes to click on a link to a forum and see a banner made in MS Paint with Times New Roman as the font. >_> If you get to the point where you think you should open MS Paint to make your logo, you might as well not make one at all. There are many forums where you can request a good logo for your forum, and it normally just takes 2-3 days to get a result in.
A Decent Style – Nobody wants to visit a forum and see a style they have seen a million times in other places. First, never use the default style, as it makes you look really lazy if you can’t even change the style. Second, choose a unique style. My suggestion is to go to some less-known styling sites and choose a nice style that barely anyone uses! And if you still can’t find a good-looking unique style, it’d probably be worth the money to get a custom one made.
Awesome Grammar – Whether you like it or not, some people get really mad when they see a simple grammar mistake. If a member spots one, they will instantly dash to the Feedback forum and write an 8,000-word essay on why that mistake shouldn’t be there. (I hate it when they point out the problem in the middle of their post, so you have to read through the 4,000 unnecessary words to find out what the problem was.) So, why not get a spell check (*pokes Firefox*), or maybe even take the time to copy what you write into Microsoft Word? If that isn’t available, why not pull out some of your kids’ ol’ “School House Rock” videos and watch those?
The Layout of Greatness – Build a nice attractive layout where guests and new members can easily find what they are looking for, and navigate around the forum. Also, when starting off, remember to keep the amount of discussion forums to a minimum, probably ten forums at most. This makes navigation easier, and it makes your post count look bigger since a lot of topics belong in one area. If you start to see some type of topic become popular, you should then create another board for it.
Uniqueness – You don’t know how many times I have visited two forums that look exactly alike, and their forums are exactly alike. I’d suggest not looking at your competition until after you have made the layout of your forum, and you have applied your ideas. After you’ve done this, you can look at your competition, see what they have, and try to improve upon your own forum to make it better. Also, be creative, and create some unique titles and descriptions that users haven’t seen before. If another forum already has it, guests will most likely choose to join the one that has more posts and isn’t just starting off.
After you have looked over these and made sure everything is in tip-top shape, you should invite some of your friends in to post a little bit on your forum, and give it a little boost before it opens up. You can also choose one or two of these users to be your starting Moderators, which will also keep them active to show you have some activity.
Open The Gates…Loudly
There are a lot of ways to start advertising, and when you start, I’d suggest getting your forum known everywhere, by registering to a bunch of forums, adding the link in your signature, and making a bunch of posts. This is probably the best way to start promoting a forum, as it shows you are willing to be apart of the community, which makes people more comfortable with joining your site.
Some of the other ways that you can promote your site when you are first starting:
Advertising Forums – This is probably one of the most-known ways to advertise. Go to a resource forum, order a couple of services, and it is really a great way to get a boost for your forum. Also, advertising forums are probably some of the best places to become active and get members through your sig. Becoming a staff member at one of these places can get you a lot of attention.
Make Friends – A lot of people that are going to join your forum are the people that already know you, just because they are more comfortable with it. You should bring your site up in normal conversation, without directly telling them to join. Maybe share one of the experiences you have had while building the site, and what has been fun about it. You never know, they may become interested.
Post Exchanges – When I say Post Exchanges, a lot of people think of a 5 for 5 post deal, which is what most Post Exchanges are. But what I am suggesting is long-term post-exchanges. This is a way to get you a guaranteed post increase, even if it is just 20 posts each week for each other. Something like this could lead to 1000 posts a year if you exchange a decent amount, and if you don’t like it, you can always stop it any time you want.
Any of the ideas above could help you start out your forum, and I highly suggest that you use all of them to start off.
Don’t Let Them Escape!
Once you’ve gotten a couple of members, you will then realize it is very difficult to get a lot of them to stay. A good way to keep new members active is to send them a PM asking a little bit about them, and maybe referring to a couple of the posts they have made. Ask for their IM address, E-Mail Address, and try to start a discussion about something. If you keep the discussion going, they will come back to continue to respond.
Another great way to keep members active is to start a non-promotional contest (which means referral contests or posting contests should not be made at this time), something like a “Most Creative Contest” or “Wallpaper Contest”, it really all depends on what the topic of your forum is. If they have an area for it, always remember to go and post about this contest on a couple of ad/promotion forums. Members will always read and reply to these to get their post count up, and they can actually get you more attention than a general advertisement topic would.
Keeping Things Awesome
Once you are getting a decent amount of posts per day, it’s time to continue to keep your forum going by doing everything you can to increase your member count, using some of the following suggestions:
Continue Advertising – Continue to put your link in as many places as possible. The more places you put your links, the easier it is for a search engine to find you, and your link is still being displayed for someone to click it!
Get Your Forum Reviewed – Get a Review to tell you how your forum is doing every once in a while. This can be a great way to get some good advice on your forum, and what you are doing wrong. When you do decide to reveiw, you should get a review from three to four different places rather than one, that way you are getting lots of feedback from different users, who have different views on your forum. If two or more of the reviewers all point out a problem, it definitely needs to be fixed.
Submit to Topsites – Submit your site to a topsite, and encourage your members to vote for it every day. If you can get enough votes to put you on the top, you can get a lot of incoming traffic.
Hire Some Staff – You shouldn’t hire staff members too often, but once you get some need for it, you should open an announcement stating that you will be selecting some new staff members, and will be accepting applications. Have the application process last for about two weeks and you’d be amazed at how much the user’s activity will increase.
Affiliates – You should affiliate with as many sites as possible that fit the same style as you, and if you get the chance, why not affiliate with some larger forums? Becoming an affiliate with someone is completely free, and it only takes a little bit of time to set up an affiliate with someone.
Well, that is pretty much all I have to write for this article. If you think this article should be improved, please send me a PM on the forums and I may edit in your idea, along with leaving you credit in the article! Thanks for reading!
~ Carsonk, Ex-Packages Team Leader
My whole life I have been one of “those people”. You know who I’m talking about; the ones who prefer a physical day planner over a smartphone, the ones who still use pen and paper to take notes in school instead of laptop, and who still uses a check book to balance their budget. Embarrassing, I know. Two important things happened in my life to help change my ways. First, I married a techie, a hardcore techie. Second, I got a job which consisted of throwing me headfirst into the amazing world of SEO.
About a year ago I applied for a writing position at a nearby company. All I knew before going into my interview was that they needed a writer. Lucky me, that’s what I had been pursuing in college. It wasn’t until I actually got the job, that I heard the term SEO mentioned in a sentence. It was in that same sentence that I also learned it would be my responsibility and number one priority. I had no clue what it was or even what it dealt with. My husband is the computer techie, not me.
I figured it must be some kind of techie phrase only known to the “geek community”. My boss kindly led me to SEOmoz and other such blogs, where I was able to do plenty of research about this mysterious SEO. Much to my surprise, it’s not as mysterious as I thought it was. (Honestly I was a little bummed, I was looking forward to learning a secret SEO handshake.)
Even after learning about SEO, I thought I would always have to go into an elaborate explanation about what SEO was, whenever someone asked me what I did. The reality is that most people not only know exactly what I’m talking about, but they have dabbled in it a little bit themselves. It’s everywhere. It influences everything. It helps determine where people shop, what people read, where people go and even why you buy something or go to that specific restaurant, rather than the other one down the street. It affects everyone in some way, whether they have heard of it or not.
Once I began to understand how important SEO is, I realized I needed to expand my knowledge even further. The number one thing I have learned so far, is that this line of work is very intimidating. There are people out there blogging that have been doing this from the beginning. There are even people out there who have started more recently and yet they took to it like a bird in flight. You know who I’m talking about, the gurus that redefine how it works and who are constantly figuring out new and improved techniques. They are the ones that are changing the industry while newbies like me are tripping over their own shoelaces trying to catch up. That said, you can’t quit. You eventually will catch up. You will have that moment, when you read an article full of advanced SEO strategies and algorithms when you actually get it. Your time will come. Until it does, start off with the basics.
- Stay Informed about the major changes Google makes. Several hundred changes are made every year; as a beginner you can’t get lost in the mess that surrounds algorithms. You can however be aware of the major changes that come about. Those changes determine how SEO will evolve and move forward.
- Frequently Check your page rank. Boiled down to its basics, that’s what SEO is all about, your website’s rankings. If you aren’t frequently checking on your progress you will miss out on important tendencies and information. If you are checking often you might be able to find trends, and discover what things you have been doing that work and what things don’t.
- Link! Link! Link! Take advantage of everything that guest posting has to offer. Go at it from both sides, writing and as a blog owner. Get good content information out there and link back to your site. Link to others as well, you have to give a little to get a little in this business.
- Create Social Media Accounts and use them! Social media is an amazing tool that you have at your fingertips. There are tons of platforms out there that you can join: Facebook, Linked In, Google+ and Twitter, just to name a few. Set up accounts and start posting. Add links to your articles and outside articles. Inform customers or readers about upcoming events, pertinent news reports and website announcements. There are several ways you can use social media to your benefit.
- Add Images to your blog. You can take advantage of using alt tags here. You will also be more likely to have returning readers if you post images on your blog and website because it makes it more appealing. Just make sure you follow all copyright laws. You can’t just use any image you find on Google.
- Keyword Research is necessary. Notice how I didn’t say, “using” keywords is necessary. Many beginners make the mistake of just using any keyword, at any time, anywhere. Do your keyword research. Find out what is popular right now. Learn how to use keywords to your advantage. It’s a lot more involved than just typing 3 important words in a little box.
- Be Consistent and Reliable. Post when you say you are going to post, update as needed and keep in touch with your readers. Be the blog they want to go to when they hop on the internet for a few minutes. You readers should always know they can count on you to provide unique, useful, entertaining and important information.
While I have gained a lot of experience in SEO, I’m still in the learning stages when it comes to advanced methods. I’m not that guru I hope to be, but someday I’ll get there. I just have to remember these basics, continue expanding my knowledge and roll with the punches.
SEO is exciting and fun. It never gets boring because it’s always changing. Some people find that frustrating, I consider it a challenge. If you’re a newbie like I once was, you’re in the same boat as all those gurus out there. They had to start somewhere. So don’t give up. Don’t get intimidated. In the infamous words of Dory, “Just keep swimming!”
This is a guest post by Kathryn Mott who enjoys writing about SEO. She works as a content creation assistant at Professional Marketing International. Read more about how we help entrepreneurs here http://www.youtube.com/user/pmieducation.
This article was first posted on our blog on 11/03/2011. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.
In this blog post, you’ll learn a few ways in which you can turn your forum into a fully functioning business, possibly without the need to manage it depending on the size of your forum and activity!
I see so many new forums listing advertisements from Adsense, Chitika, Adbuzz etc. I hate it when new sites, try and make money from the start. Focusing on making money from the start only depletes the chances of your success where other forums won’t have this issue by focusing on the community. However that’s a different blog post all together.
Your best bet at success is to start off without any advertisements, until you hit the 1000 post milestone. This means that you should have reasonable activity, a few active members and posts coming in every day without paying for them via FP or paid forum posts.
I would personally go with setting up private adverts on a click basis (as opposed to an impression basis, where the advertiser pays for the amount of times it’s displayed instead of visited.)
This will give your advertisers more freedom of advertising, and try to be more slack with the type of adverts you want when you’re small. Obviously try and keep the adverts suitable for the type of forum you run.
Once your growth begins to vastly increase, start to raise your advertising costs. This means you’ll get more premium members from your forum advertising,members from real sites which convert into cash in the end. You’ll be seen as a business partner, and you’ll begin to gain contacts which are always useful in a dry spell.*
* If you start to build business contacts, make sure that you ask their permission to keep their details. After doing so, only contact them if needs be. Don’t try and be a friend to them, from their perspective you’re another method of getting business and not looking for a 4 hour chat on Skype.
2. Exclusive unsaturated niche
A few members here may read that title and think “WHAT?!”, well I’ll explain.
Exclusive: Something other forums don’t offer. This is the hardest part of running a forum, as there are so many out there it’s hard to break into the field.
Unsaturated: This means (in the simplest form) not full of the same idea. Such as surveys > gifts sites such as Points2Shop. If your forum is completely unique and all aspects of it are only used by you, advertisers will come flocking in asking for advertising quotes. This is what I mean by autopilot business.
Niche: The area of the market you’re entering. If you’re in the gaming aspect of forums, only advertisers with adverts relating to gaming will approach you (normally). It’s a good idea to vaguely broaden your boards, opening opportunities to advertisers and people looking to join a board.
You’ll want to start a board that people will want to join. For example, the most recent one I’ve seen here would be phpBB Communities. They offer a completely new niche for people who own phpBB communities. They had instant success, and still do today. I personally recommend joining the board if you own a phpBB community, it’s extremely useful and helps a lot when creating and updating your board.
3. Making a return
This is the most important part of a business, is whether or not it will actually function as a profitable transaction. You need to focus on getting your name out there, which can take a lot of time and money. SEO is an extremely important method of gaining activity and thus money, because it can get tedious having to refer people through hundreds of different boards and mediums when you could be getting organic traffic from Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Once your site is listed, don’t give up! Keep on posting daily fresh content, fight spam and support your members with their problems. People love to get help when they need it, so try and be a loving admin and you’ll see the result of it!
Once you start to make cash from your site, don’t stop there. Reinvest it in methods that work. You need to spend money to make money, so why not use the cash you got from your site and use it for your site again?
$1 into your paypal isn’t much use to you, but it could buy you 100 visitors which could become registered users, a backlink on a premium web link directory or simply save it toward custom features!
I hope this guide has started to help you and that you have gained something of value from it.
This article was first posted on our blog on 18/03/2011. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.
Welcome to the wonderful world of SEO! It’s a vast, active collection of webmasters who are striving to better their site. They have Google Page 1 listings, active search results and thousands of organic (search engine) visits daily.
SEO divides in two sections. BlackHat and WhiteHat. Many users that offer scripts (such as above) have used BlackHat methods and have suffered for it. Google and Bing remove their listings, and they have to start over again.
Blackhat is using techniques such as spamming and forced listings. Whitehat are legal and approved ways such as backlinks.
There is no quick solution to SEO. It takes time and effort, it can sometimes be costly (depending on whether you do it yourself or through a professional SEO company) but you will nearly always come out from it better off if you go about it the right way.
Here are some basic SEO tips that all users should follow before attempting to advertise:
• Find a source of .edu and .com blogs that offer dofollow links. Post insightful and good comments (more likely to get accepted) and ensure that you ping them back.
• Use relevant forums to advertise your link. Spamming it around can lead to blackmarking or banning from the forums, so simply put it in your signature with anchor text and post around! Post good quality content that relates directly to your niche. For example, if you were advertising a script website, you would go to a web development forum and post a detailed article with your link in your signature.
• Submit your sites to premium link directories every day. These are high ranking sites that offer you the chance to better your search engine rankings. Here are a few links to help you start your SEO journey:
You can find more by watching these lists grow and simply Googling around!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this basic step into the world of SEO, more will follow!