by John Rampton, Editor Search Engine Journal
Cross-posted from the ForumCon blog. ForumCon is the only conference dedicated to the business of forums and is held this year in San Francisco on June 13.
The internet is filled with forums. People go to forums for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons include: SEO purposes, JV partners, driving traffic, and information. In this post I will examine each of these areas.
1. SEO Purposes
You’ll want to learn a little bit of how the search engines work and html to understand how you can use forum postings for SEO purposes. Search engines index information on websites to store in their index.
You can apply a bit of html code to tell the search engines whether or not they will index the links on the page. You do that by using either the ‘no-follow’ attribute or the ‘do-follow’ attribute. The no- follow one tells the search engines not to index the links. The opposite goes for the latter.
To determine whether or not a page is do-follow or not, then you just simple ‘view page source’ while on the page you’re analyzing. Many forums are no-follow, but that doesn’t prevent you from obtaining the other benefits of forum postings; JV partners & driving traffic.
2. JV Partners
JV stands for joint venture and many entrepreneurs start them to leverage someone else’s skills, leadership, and resources. As you become a regular participant in the forum of your choice, you’ll undoubtedly make connections.
I really like to use the internet as a spring board to a real friendship or connection. To do this, you have to elevate the relationship beyond just words. When a connection is made, I’ll set up a meeting on skype to get to know the person and see their face. Take the opportunity to get to know them. Ask them about their goals and what they’re trying to accomplish.
You might just find out a JV with this new connection will help you both reach your goals and objectives. No JV is the same. Some will be good, while others will be a miserable experience. Do your due diligence before you start a JV with someone.
3. Traffic How do you use a forum to drive traffic?
You’ll be wise to get to know the forum’s guidelines. Some will allow links in the posting itself, while others will not. More often than not, forums will allow for some type of a signature.
Many marketers neglect to take advantage of the signature box. Everyone can improve what they put in their box. Just like you’ll spend quality time crafting the perfect title for a blog post, you’ll want to take some time to create a sentence that will motivate someone to click through and visit your website.
If the website is do-follow, then I would recommend linking to your main blog or website. If it’s no-follow, then I typically recommend you using a capture page of some sort so you can build your email list.
If you’re looking for an answer, you can browse the existing threads on the forums. Even I spend time reading forums to learn more information. (Side note: you can use forums to get ideas for blog posts and other content.)
Another option available to you is to start your own thread asking the forum members a question. You’ll find that many forum members will participate and offer up their advice. Make sure you signup for email updates so you know when people have commented on your thread.
Forum postings are a great way to build backlinks to your website, drive traffic, obtain information, and find potential JV partners.
Posted in Building Communities & Forums, Guest Post
by Dave Cayem, VP Delphi Forums
Cross-posted from the ForumCon blog. ForumCon is the only conference dedicated to the business of Forums and will be held this year in San Francisco on June 13.
The good folks that run ForumCon have asked me to lead a session on forum moderation.
My session is entitled “Effective Strategies for Forum Moderation,” and we’ll be focusing on ways to keep the peace in your forum.
When resolving sticky situations in online communities, it’s vitally important to choose your words with care. When you can’t convey your meaning with body language or facial expressions, it’s easy for your words to be misconstrued. That’s especially true when communicating with an angry member. So I’ll be sharing some of the language I always turn to in these situations, and asking session participants to share their ideas.
We’ll also spend some time talking about forum rules. Forum rules are a tricky topic, because few visitors take the time to read them. But when a forum member starts causing trouble, you still need a set of rules that you can point to when calling out an infraction. Forum rules are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The topic, membership, and sensibilities of the forum should dictate what the rules are. But there are still some concepts that apply to any forum, and we’ll discuss them.
There are certain types of people that seem to turn up in any forum. There are helpful types, troublesome types, and those that are merely an annoyance. I’ll talk about the five types of people I often see in online communities, and I’ll ask the group to share stories about forum participants they’ve run into.
We’ll also open up the conversation and swap stories about difficult situations we’ve faced in our forums, and discuss how we resolved them.
Finally, I’ll be sharing the online community management resources I turn to for advice and ideas, and asking the group to share theirs.
Are there topics related to forum moderation and management you think we ought to include in this session? Do you have any questions that we can answer during the session? Please join the conversation via #ForumCon, the official twitter @ForumCon, via their Facebook page, or add your thoughts below.
Posted in Building Communities & Forums
A few weeks ago, we posted the slides from the opening statements made by our CEO Oliver Roup at ForumCon. Today, we’re excited to share with you a few videos taken of actual ForumCon panels and speakers. Some great points were brought up surrounding several topics, so go ahead and check them out!
Verticalized Social Networks: Online Influencers that Savvy Marketers Covet
Speaker: Dan Gill, Founder & CEO of Huddler
How to Create, Curate & Put Great Content to Use
Speaker: Tyler Tanaka, VP of Development for PostRelease
More to come in the next few days!
Tags: ForumCon, Monetization, VigLink Posted in Building Communities & Forums
We’re still hard at work packaging up the video presentations from ForumCon, but in the meantime, we’ve compiled speakers’ slides for those of you that have been asking.
In order of their presentation…
Posted in Building Communities & Forums, Content Monetization, Re-Inventing Affiliate Marketing
Ten sessions, three ground breaking product announcements, twenty-five speakers, two-hundred attendees, hundreds of cups of coffee (and hundreds of cocktails) later, ForumCon 2012 is a wrap.
We’ll be sharing all the pictures, presentations and interviews from the event with you in the next couple of days, but didn’t want to wait any longer to share the three pieces of news that came out of ForumCon: vBulletin premiered their first product release in 2+ years, selected VigLink exclusively for content monetization, and we announced that our merchant coverage is now double that of any competitor. We now monetize traffic to 30,000+ merchants!
Here’s the blow-by-blow of how each of the announcements went down.
The morning kicked off a little bit early with a special event for both press and attendees: the unveiling of vBulletin 5 Connect.
While a press release with a few key details went out on the wire just as John McGanty, General Manager of Internet Brands took to the stage, the audience was certainly anxious for a more detailed overview. John’s preview definitely delivered, and we saw what vB5 Connect had to offer:
In total, there are 125 new features and enhancements in vBulletin 5 Connect. And the audience was buzzing throughout the rest of the day about which they were most excited for:
One of the enhancements available in vB5 Connect is VigLink content monetization available out-of-the-box. With the upcoming release, vBulletin will be replacing its previous content monetization solution with VigLink.
Bambi Francisco of Vator News chatted with both John McGanty of Internet Brands and Oliver Roup, our Founder & CEO, on Monday evening and shared details on the partnership early Tuesday morning in the lead up to the formal announcement.
And after the dust had settled, Murray Newlands, an advisor to VigLink and correspondent for Performance Marketing Insider caught up with Joe Rosenblum, CTO for Internet Brands, for his thoughts on the newly announced partnership (check it out below).
We’ll be sharing more detail on the partnership as the vB5 release date nears, but are happy to announce now that we’ll be offering both current and new VigLink users a 5% revenue bonus when they upgrade to vB5 (more detail in Oliver’s full presentation at the bottom of this post).
After vBulletin’s press session wrapped, Oliver formally kicked off the day with a few ForumCon updates, and also a pretty big announcement: VigLink now monetizes traffic to over 30,000 merchant sites.
Over the last six months, we’ve been hard at work forging a set of relationships that not only represent double the merchant coverage of any competitor, but will also deliver higher payouts for our publishers than any other entity can.
The end result: using VigLink is easier than ever (thanks to partnerships like that of vBulletin) and we’re not only earning you more than ever, but more than anyone else.
If you’re interested, you can check out Oliver’s full presentation below. And be on the lookout for full video and the rest of the presentation decks very soon!
A Thank You + 3 Things
The section title here is a homage to our concluding panel of the day, focused on the future of forums (video to come!). The VigLink team had such a great time spending the day with so many of our users, partners, and other industry leaders yesterday — and we are beyond excited for next year. The best, really is, yet to come.
Posted in Building Communities & Forums, Company Milestones, Content Monetization, Feature Announcements, News and Updates, Re-Inventing Affiliate Marketing, Relevant Reading
ForumCon 2012: San Francisco is less than 48 hours away! To get you ready for Tuesday’s event, take a few minutes to check out the final agenda below, and then catch up on some of the newest episodes of ForumCon TV below (and be sure to be on the lookout for Tyler, Winter and Chad at the actual event).
Excited to see many of you on Tuesday morning!
Know what’s happening when by downloading a copy of the final agenda here.
Posted in Building Communities & Forums, Company Milestones, News and Updates
Okay, so we are officially pumped for ForumCon June 12th! In addition to sessions on SEO, social media, community management, monetization, and content creation — we’ve just made two exciting additions to the schedule of events for the day of ForumCon.
The next version of vBulletin will be launched later this year. It will entail a next-generation forum product with a modernized community experience. The product will provide increasing social functionality, improving content management and streamlining site set-up and administration.
The worldwide introduction of the new version of vBulletin will be made at a special press event at ForumCon, just before the kick off of the day’s formal agenda. Media, developers, and forum owners that are interested in a first look at the newest product can arrive early for the event which will kick off at 8:15am.
Also, vBulletin will be extending a $25 discount to all ForumCon attendees that are interested in purchasing the newest version when it is formally released! Be on the lookout for your unique discount code in your registration packet you receive upon arrival.
Executives from the parent company of vBulletin will draw on experience from operating over 200 forum sites to explain the trends, tools, and technologies that are driving the next wave of forum growth. Specific areas to be discussed include why 2012 is a great time to start a forum, why Google Panda is an SEO best friend to forum sites, how forums can leverage Facebook to attract more users than it draws away, vital considerations for forums serving mobile visitors, key ways forums need to change, and how they should stay the same.
See you in San Francisco June 12th! Haven’t gotten your ticket yet? RSVP here.
Posted in Building Communities & Forums, News and Updates
The article below originally appeared on TechCrunch as a guest post by Oliver Roup, VigLink Founder & CEO.
When an email hits our inbox, we know not only who it’s from but their entire web imprint. LinkedIn canpoint out the profile of the woman you interviewed for a sales role last week and the gentleman you spoke with earlier in the year at a conference.
And rest assured that the dining room set you checked out over the weekend at CrateAndBarrel.com will haunt your online experience for the forseeable future.
Data — its collection and manipulation at scale — has revolutionized how we interact online. Homepages, banner advertisements and what we see in our Facebook timeline are all tailored-to-fit the reader, and we don’t give it a second thought.
But the hyperlink, the key feature that distinguishes hypertext from text has remained largely unchanged since Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web.
Websites generally, and search and online advertising specifically, would be barely recognizable today by their younger selves. But hyperlinks — their structure, how they’re authored and how we use and track them — have barely changed in 20 years. Consider:
Hyperlinks, in many ways, are dumb. And as a result, harming your user experience and potentially bleeding money from your company — when they could be a tool for better engagement, increased revenue, and deeper analytics.
Now, there are a cluster of companies innovating by recognizing the power of the link — Omniture, Vibrant Media and Yieldbot, to name a few. But, this isn’t a problem companies can hold off on thinking about until the perfect tech pops up to solve it. There was a time when SEO was considered a “pro-tip” — a way for startups to get ahead of the game. Today, it’s standard best practice — and companies that don’t think strategically about the way search engines view their sites are at a strong disadvantage.
Hyperlink optimization is similar. While link optimization might be a “pro-tip” now, it won’t be for much longer. Companies that aren’t thinking strategically about link placement, closely tracking results, and taking subsequent action, will find the companies that ARE doing these things at an advantage.
The most critical areas to spend time on are tracking outbound hyperlinks, building a linking strategy, and refining it based on results. Let’s briefly dive into each.
The first step to optimizing a site’s outbound traffic is to understand what that traffic looks like. Where do visitors go when they leave your site? What do they do on those other sites?
While there is still a lot of room for growth within the outbound analytics space, Omniture (paid) and Google Analytics (free — but requires a modification to the standard Analytics code you add to your site) both offer tools to help you understand what happens when a reader leaves your site. VigLink (disclosure: I am the CEO there) also offers an outbound analytics suite as part of its content monetization solution.
What do you want your outbound hyperlinks to do for you?
Do you want them to earn you revenue? Do you want them to serve an SEO purpose? Be purely informational? Should they be scarce (keeping readers on your site)? Or abundant (allowing readers to exit as it is helpful)?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a plan for when your team includes a hyperlink, and when it does not — opening up opportunities for a better reader experience, and deeper engagement.
Combine a plan with data to track that plan’s performance and you’ve got a gold mine on your hands. Notice a link that is never clicked and your plan requires that links must be useful to readers? Take it out. Or, a heavy percentage of links pointing to non-eCommerce properties, and your goal is monetization? Incorporate fewer links to those non-commercial sites. Refining your hyperlinks will improve reader engagement and overall site performance.
Hyperlinks should make the web better — more connected, easier to navigate, and intelligent. Hyperlinks should make your site better — more actionable, insightful and profitable.
Today, hyperlinks are falling short. They’re static and largely untracked. Sometimes useful — but often not. As the web becomes ever more crowded, and an organization’s site optimization toolkit begins to produce diminishing returns, the hyperlink is obvious low hanging fruit.
What that means to site owners:
Posted in Building Communities & Forums, Content Monetization, News and Updates, Re-Inventing Affiliate Marketing, Relevant Reading, Value of Data
Getting excited for ForumCon San Francisco June 12th? We can’t believe we are less than a month away!
As we are putting the final touches on the agenda for this year, we thought we’d share some of the most recent episodes of ForumCon TV with you. They’re an easy way to catch up with some of our previous speakers, and new names to be on the lookout for this year. Check all of the episodes out in their entirety below.
Tags: Chris Saad, eBay, Echo, ForumCon, ForumCon San Francisco, Steve Dodd Posted in Building Communities & Forums
A bit overdue, but better late than never! With ForumCon San Francisco less than 60 days away (are you as excited as we are?) we wanted to share a few of the video highlights from the previous conference.
And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to grab your ticket.
In this fireside chat with Jeremy Liew, Managing Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Oliver Roup, Founder & CEO of VigLink, asks how a forum can go about raising capital, and when it makes sense to do so.
Three users walk into a bar: search visitors, n00bs and power users. In this presentation Dan Gill, Co-Founder & CEO of Huddler, discusses how to think about the user experience in each of these scenarios and how to think about monetization when it comes to each of your sites’ unique audiences.
JJ McCarthy, Global Director of the eBay Partner Network, shares an inside look at how eBay approaches performance marketing.
As affiliate nexus taxes are being enacted in more states, online merchants and forum owners are increasingly facing a number of business challenges and difficult decisions. In this panel discussion, experts on both sides of the issue weigh in on the key issues, and share how their respective companies are managing the issue.
Content marketing continues to gain momentum. In this presentation Tyler Tanaka, VP of Business Development at PostRelease, will discuss why brands and agencies are gravitating towards content marketing, and the content marketing tactics you can leverage to help grow your own community and it’s brand.
Michael Wechsler of TheLaw.com shares how forum owners can make their forum mobile seamlessly and painlessly.
More than likely you are already doing the obvious when it comes to monetizing your forum (running banner ads and perhaps Google AdSense). Intuitively, these kinds of ad models are easy to easy understand. They “sell” pieces of white space on your site.
In this panel, we’ll discuss one of the more technically difficult and often misunderstood monetization options available to forum owners: affiliate marketing. Four experts in the affiliate marketing space will discuss best practices and answer your questions.
Many refer to forums as the “original social network” — they were bringing individuals together en masse long before Facebook, MySpace or Twitter did. In a space that has already covered so much ground, what’s next? In this panel four forum & community experts will discuss the trends they anticipate sticking, which will likely subside and the overall direction they see the forum space moving in.
Tags: ForumCon, ForumCon Chicago Posted in Building Communities & Forums, Company Milestones