A while ago, I had a small information site that helped people who were looking to get jobs on oil rigs. It only had about 10 pages, the design was lacking, and it was generally just a boring site.
It was no Google powerhouse, but it got a fair chunk of traffic for some random keywords every month, and made some money via Adsense as the click-thru rate was about 4.5%. It wasn't making enough money for me to put loads of time into it, but I decided I wanted to experiment with forum marketing to make some more money out of it.
I knew the basics.
- Create an account on a forum in your niche
- Start posting useful comments and starting threads
- Leave a link to your website it your signature
- Get Traffic
All I had to do was set the steps in motion and get free traffic right? WRONG.
On the first attempt of marketing my website and dropping some links in an online forum, I was banned pretty quickly. A waste of a few hours of my time, but a valuable lesson learned.
There is a right way and a wrong way of doing forum marketing.
First, I’ll tell you the wrong way, so you can avoid doing it like me at all costs.
If you go sign up to a forum, and go in all guns blazing, you’re gonna get the ban hammer pretty quickly. By this I mean posting on everything you can, dropping links to your website left right and centre, and being a self promotional douche is a waste of your time.
People can smell a spammer a mile off, and they hate them immediately. They won’t be in the que to visit your website and subscribe to your email list. They’ll be in the que to report you and see you thrown out of the forum in 15 seconds flat.
You need to ease yourself into the community.
For a while, the only link to your website should be in your signature. Obviously, you should check that the forum allows links in signatures before you sign up. You can usually find signature rules with a quick search of the forum.
When creating your signature, you need to make it appealing to click. This means you cant just have a www.mysiteiswisked.com signature. You need to throw a bit of copywriting into the mix. If your site is about smoothie recipes, then you should think of a cool phrase to advertise your site.
Free Smoothie Recipes That Will Make Your Mouth Water HERE.
That’s something I would use off the top of my head. You can all think of something better I’m sure.
Now, you need to start getting involved in the forum discussions. Try not to just leave one sentence, boring answers. Disagree with previous posters, giving an alternative answer. This will usually get a better discussion going, meaning more people in the thread, more eyes on your signature, leading to more clicks to your website.
Be Super Careful When Dropping Links
Only leave a link to your website, when it truly helps the OP, and leads to a great piece of content. If people think you’re only there to drop the link, you’ll get reported, and your link will get deleted. Or worse, YOU will get deleted. Only you will be able to judge the situation and decide if you will get away with leaving your link in that thread.
If you’re leaving your link as an answer to a question, I’d make sure you answer the question in fully on the forum, and then leave the link to your article on the subject for “further reading”. This makes everything look a lot less spammy, and the extra effort is worth the longevity for your links.
You Will Get Traffic From The Forum In 2 Ways
First of all, you will see traffic come in quite fast from your signature links, and any website links you’ve successfully dropped. You will usually see a quick spike in traffic that day, which will usually drop of pretty quickly as that thread dies and gets buried. Posting just once a day will give your signature link exposure to maybe hundreds of people, and you can get fast clicks from targeted people.
Over time though, you will start to see a stable source of traffic coming in from that forum. This comes from random people who came across the forum via Google, and ended up clicking your link. This happens because Google favours forum threads especially when questions are being asked. Probably because it thinks that the multiple inputs from lots of different people will help the user more. Who knows.
When people ask that question in Google, they may find that thread and be reading through it, and end up clicking your link. For this to be effective, I think your link needs to be in at least 5 different threads, which could take a few months to leave depending on how active the forum is.
Try Not To Go Overboard
Instead of signing up and posting in loads of different forums, just concentrate on 1 - 3 forums depending on how much time you have spare. At first, I signed up to about 5 different forums, and spent ages trying to drop my links in all of them at the same time.
It was hard to keep track of, so in the end I just chose 2 forums and made 1 post a day on each of them. After about 2 weeks, I had 4 links linking to various articles on my website, 2 of which were actually follow link, and an extra 100 - 150 visits to my website each month. This lead to additional income for that website, which is a win.
Don’t get caught up in the forum and end up procrastinating. Limit your time on the website, and get what you need done. I’ve probably spent too much time browsing the forum I was meant to be posting on, and could have used that time to get more traffic / more money.
If you feel that you don’t have time to forum market yourself, the good news is that you can usually find someone on freelancer or odesk to do it for you. If you’re willing to spend money, it's a good way to outsource some quality traffic generation.