Everyone is looking for answers on the Internet all of the time. Those who consistently provide the most relevant and best answer to particular questions hold a worthy place within their given niche. They also can consistently obtain quality traffic to their website and funnel people to particular areas based on their reputation alone. The good news is, you can build the same for your website via forums.
How Forums Work
Forums are much like crowd sourcing: You get complete and relevant answers to questions from others online. Forums offer a place for people to ask, and answer, questions within a particular niche, and the most popular and best response usually goes to the top of list. There are forums built around every niche on the Internet. You will always find a forum to join to ask questions. However, you can help build your online reputation by taking a question, such as, “Is this the best time to buy real estate?”, and freely answering it.
Why Utilize Online Forums
Online forums bring you highly targeted, quality traffic. When you are consistently answering questions that are relevant to your business, real estate or otherwise, online communities take notice. Your website gets looked at because people become not only curious as to who you are but, when your answers are good, what else you might be able to do for them. Your answers provide an avenue of trust that, when built over time, results in people referring to you in both online and offline conversations. It is the best way to build “street cred” within online communities that are oriented towards your niche. An added bonus is that you are usually able to get a link back to your website, via your profile, that has keyword-rich anchor text. Just keep in mind that you should generally be participating within online forums for the people, not the search engines.
How to Find Good Forums
Finding good online forums to answer questions is somewhat of a hit or miss process that initially takes a bit of patience. One way to start looking for good forums is to search Google for your niche and forum. So, for example, if you have a real estate site, try typing in “real estate forums” or “real estate message boards.” You should get a good listing to sift through and find one you like. Alternatively, you can save time and use a search engine dedicated to finding message or forum sites, such as Omgili, Board Tracker, Yahoo! Groups, Google Groups, or DMOZ.
How Much Time to Spend
Most people are busy, and although it would be great to spend all day answering questions directly related to your niche on the Internet, there are clients waiting. The best way to offset the time challenge is to find a question to answer and set a timer. Once the timer is up, submit your answer. You want to make sure your response is detailed, accurate, and worthy while at the same time honoring the rest of your day. Spend just half an hour a week, maybe even just 15 minutes, stay consistent, and you should see some good results.
Track the Results…with Patience
Search for a forum or message board, start using it, and then track the results…with patience. It will take a good amount of time before you start to see any sort of traffic. You have to answer a number of questions and build up your reputation within a given community. When some time has passed you can look at stats within Google Analytics to see what traffic has come from referring sites. Keep an eye on this from time to time so you can get a better idea of when your efforts are paying off. If you are really adventurous, try answering questions from more than one forum or message board. You can then track which ones do better for you over time.
Even though it does take some time and patience, once you have established yourself, what you have just keeps building and getting better. Once a certain community comes to respect your authority in a given niche, you gain an Internet marketing asset that is far greater than any advertisement you could hope to purchase.
Do you already use forums or message boards with success? Send a comment below and let us know they have worked out for you.