When I first started working with Forum Links, I did some research and found that it was hard to learn much about them. Wikipedia doesn’t even have a page for Forum Links. All they have is a page about Forum spam. That made me wonder if links posted in forums were even any good. If other SEOs are talking about forum links, it’s hard to find their stuff because there are so many sites selling garbage forum links.
Well, I’ve come to find out that, when done properly, a forum link can be a really great addition to a backlink portfolio.
Let’s start by using an analogy to help describe what I’m talking about.
Every college has that campus notice board that keeps students informed about the latest college happenings. It’s a place where activities are posted and students can stay current on news and events that are taking place. Anyone is free to post messages and announcements. Sometimes, these posts add value to the board (i.e. changes to class schedules or school policy changes). Sometimes they are spam (i.e. “1995 DELL PC For Sale” or “Electric Guitar lessons”).
The value of the notice board is often determined by the one who cleans it up once a week. We’ll call this person the moderator. He or she decides what notices add value for the students who read the board and what doesn’t. He or she has the power to eliminate some of the notes, while allowing others to stay. If this person is taking the task seriously, the notice board will be a good addition to the campus, providing quality information for those who stop and read it. If they are allowing anything on the board, or they ignore the board for weeks at a time, the value of the board degrades.
There are a million forums online. Forums are simply places where people who have similar interests can communicate with each other. They are great for getting questions answered and for sharing content on related interests.
Personally, I’ve spent some time on Apple’s forums. When I switched to Mac a few years back, it was a little weird getting used to the ways in which it was different from a PC. The Apple forum was a valuable resource as I taught myself the new operating system. Other Mac users were happy to assist, providing insight into simple things like keyboard shortcuts or tips and tricks (I love SPACES on the Mac!) that aren’t available on PCs.
Search engines like forums too.
- They are filled with valuable content. Google: “How do I use spaces on a mac?” and Apple’s support forum is the #1 result. That alone is very telling.
- They often have PageRank and Domain Authority.
- Forums get new content on a regular basis as users post questions, comments and answers. Google’s Freshness Update has got to love that.
So when you’re looking for a backlink to point to your site (to improve SEO and maybe even get some traffic), you should look for the same things that Google likes. That means that a forum is a great place for a link.
Whoa! Wait! That is way too blanket of a statement. Check out this campus notice board:
Would this be a good place to post your valuable content? Probably not. It isn’t going to get read, and it isn’t going to impress those finicky Google bots either.
So while I feel comfortable saying that forum links are good, I’d like to qualify that by saying that “Links on good forums are good.”
My next qualifying statement is this: “Good links on good forums are good.”
So before you go joining a bunch of forums and posting your links, let me give you a little more advice. Don’t create the spam that forum moderators hate. If you’re going to take the time to join a forum, you’ve got to participate in a way that adds value to the forum, so that the moderator doesn’t trash your comment (including your link).
Here are a few strategies to make your link look as natural as possible (to the moderator and the Google bots):
- Only post on forums that are related to your site. (Don’t place a link to your landscaping site on a forum about skin care. Duh.)
- Don’t use your keywords as your anchor text. (Instead, link to a random word in your comment.)
- Don’t use your URL as your anchor text.
- Don’t point the link to your home page. (Use an interior page – hopefully one that is super-relevant to the forum.)
- Add value to the forum. Provide an answer to another reader’s question or provide interesting content. Don’t write something totally random that makes no sense on the forum.
Just use common sense. After writing your comment, ask yourself: if you were the moderator, would you leave the comment (and the backlink with it)? If your answer is no, then just take it down and start over, because that’s what the moderator is going to do anyway.
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