Start a Niche Forum to Build Your Online Presence
Internet presence is usually defined in terms of how visible you are online, how high you rank in the SERPs (search engine results pages), whether you have a good online reputation, and what reach you have when you promote yourself. To someone that is just starting out on the task of building their online brand awareness, developing an online presence may seem daunting. Fortunately, there is one tried- and- true type of website that contributes to every aspect of an internet presence: a niche forum.
Forum pages have been in existence since the beginning of the internet, and some of the highest traffic online is generated by forums. The development of Web 2.0, with its increased focus on social interaction, has seen online forum platforms like Yahoo Groups rise in popularity. Now it isn’t uncommon for even corporate websites to include an online forum. This is because the advantages of running a forum as a part of your company website touch on many parts of a good internet marketing strategy.
The most obvious benefit of hosting a forum on your corporate website is that it gives you the opportunity to collect personal information from the new members. Often, the motive for creating a forum site is simply to collect this sort of information so that it can be collated into e-mail marketing lists for promoters. Building an organic list of people that are interested in your niche provides a good foundation for the reach of your marketing material. E-mail marketing is one of the most common tools for converting web visitors into paying customers; therefore, one of the major focus points of any business’ internet marketing plan should be to assemble a list of e-mail addresses where they can distribute their marketing material.
The content on forum pages is almost entirely contributed by the members who engage in conversation there, making these sorts of pages relatively low-maintenance. Usually, this maintenance doesn’t amount to much more than moderating and administering the list, and making the occasional comment to initiate a new conversation. Because the content is always fresh, the search engines will scour the page more often, giving it a better ranking in the SERPs than static pages would generate. The information that you do contribute to the forum will develop your reputation as an authority in your niche; after all, someone that is moderating a forum and setting many of the topics on the site is likely to be someone who is invested, and possibly an expert in the field. If your website is the place where people find the solutions that they are looking for, they are naturally going to associate your brand with that experience.
The dynamic nature of most websites now makes it simple to include a forum page in a website. User-friendly scripts like WordPress and Joomla have plug-ins and themes that set up all of the necessary components with minimum effort. Often, fans of your social media brand pages will happily join your forum list, and there are a number of incentives you can offer to encourage them to join the conversation on your webpage. Starting a forum for your niche may be a viable alternative to keeping a blog, which demands that you produce new posts on a regular basis. For many people that don’t have the time or the skills to write a blog, running a forum where the members contribute the material might be the preferable option for adding the dynamic content that is necessary to get your website ranking well in the SERPs now, and which will thereby encourage your visitors to return.