As you probably already know, there’s more to inbound traffic than to wait for search engines to help you get found. If you really want to crank up inbound traffic, start commenting in open and closed forums.
You’ll be amazed of how easily you could get traffic from forums and social media groups. When you leave your links around, it’s like leaving ‘breadcrumbs’ to lure people back to your website.
This is also a good reason to have a blog, so that when you’re discussing topics on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus included, you can share your relevant posts with the people who are looking for solutions to their problems.
What helps you get traffic from forums
Forums are useful because – depending on the type of forum or group – you may get to:
- Set up your signature and profile to include a website link, tagline and keywords.
- Engage with more people and in more conversations due to the higher user registrations and participation, which leads to…
- Talk about your business and what you’re offering, more often and to keep your name fresh in people’s minds, which means you can also…
- Add links into your comments (in most forums) to promote your website or blog post to the community.
- Use your keywords in your comments in open forums so that when the threads pop up in search engines for those keywords, people will discover you and your links.
A word of caution – don’t be that guy who answers every question with a link or who spams everyone with irrelevant links.
Open forums are public forums even if they require you to log in. Although you may not be after discussions that everyone can see, if it’s for your business then there’s no harm, as long as the conversation is professional.
The good thing for you is open forums are indexed by search engines.
Here are a couple of examples from when I searched for “Graduate programs+forum” and “mobile carriers+forum”:
You’ll often find groups full of spam-like posts as members post advertisement after advertisement rather than discuss anything relevant. You’ll have to decide whether this kind of group is worth your time, since usually no one reads the posts. It’s best to spend time in groups designed to help you start conversations and to demonstrate your knowledge and authority in your field or industry.
You’ll also find that many older forums are moving to mobile apps. However, you should spend some time on a browser to complete your profiles properly.
Closed forums are the private forums and a moderator usually checks you out when you make a request to get in. No one except those in the groups can see what’s being said in the groups.
Closed forums are not usually spammy and although you may get to promote your site, in some cases it’s probably only once a week or once a month.
The benefits are similar to participating in open forums. However, they threads are not indexed by search engines. But since you’re joining them to get traffic from within forums, indexing isn’t an issue as long as you get to promote your links. So look closely at the rules before you join a forum.
Here’s an example of some of the closed forums (or groups) on Facebook and Google Plus. They’re easy to access via their mobile apps.
Tips for commenting when you want to get traffic from forums
What to search for: Do quick searches on sites like Google Plus, LinkedIn and Facebook. Join groups related to your role (e.g. personal trainer), niche (e.g. fitness), the products and services you’re offering (e.g. personal training) or your location (e.g. groups for small businesses in Fremantle).
Introduce yourself: Once you’ve joined the groups, introduce yourself. When you find people who sound like potential customers or just people of interest, ‘like’ their pages and posts, ‘+’ their posts, join their mailing lists and read their blogs so you can leave relevant and insightful comments.
How to pique interest with keywords: Whenever you comment, also try and use relevant keywords that people are used to so. They’ll see that you have something in common with them or the knowledge and skills they’re looking for. It’s also good for when members do a search of those keywords to see old posts in the groups. Below is an example of what came up when I searched for “iPad” in a Facebook group.
Choose the right time to comment in groups: If you’re sharing your opinion in Facebook and Google Plus groups, I’ve found that if you comment too early, people don’t get to read your comment. Yours becomes lost in dozens or even hundreds of others. If you wait and only post your opinion at least after the third, eighth or tenth person, those who commented before you did will receive notification of your comment. That’s my tip for engaging in group discussions when you’re after exposure. Wait a while. Oh, and I don’t mean Facebook ‘pages’, their comments work differently.
Get your pitch in early: When someone asks for help, get your pitch in as early as possible before they pick a problem solver. As we say, the early bird catches the worm. Craft up a short pitch that doesn’t appear too desperate, defensive or aggressive. Keep it on your phone or computer for when you need it. Don’t be a parrot. Instead, rewrite to match the request.
Comment early on blogs: If at all possible, comment early on blogs, so that you can then subscribe to the comments to receive updates. This is best when commenting on blogs where you can see your potential customers commenting. Continue to engage with others as they comment but if the blogger is your competition, don’t compete. Just be subtle.
Stay relevant: Keep your comments and posts relevant, to the point and as original as possible, otherwise moderators might delete them… and eventually boot you out.
Make ‘friends’: Don’t hesitate to initiate a relationship with others, especially with businesses you’d like to call on when you need someone to fix your problems. They are good for word of mouth and won’t hesitate to tag you when people ask for businesses like yours. Remember, not everyone is ready to buy right now… so the best way to sell in forums is to sell without selling. If you have a relationship with them, they’ll come to you when they need what you have been talking about.
Raise your hand and do it more often: If anyone in your groups posts a callout for guest bloggers, consider submitting guest posts for their blogs. But be careful – ask the bloggers to “no follow” any links that point to your website or blog. You don’t want Google to penalise you if they suspect that you’re trying to gather as many links as possible to help boost ranking. Don’t worry, when a link is set to “no follow” people can still click through. You’ll still get the traffic that you’re after and the brand awareness you’ve planned for.
Share your service or product pages: If you’re pitching, use your pages that point people to more information on what you do rather than send them to your homepage. The point here is to limit the number of steps people need to take to find out if you have a solution to their problem.
How do you boost traffic to your site?
Do you participate in forums, or do you just let search engines do the work for you? What are your biggest challenges?
Grab more tips on getting traffic, this time with search engine optimisation.
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