SEO Best Practices for Forums

As if search engine optimization (SEO) best practices aren’t challenging enough for the average website owner, there are also a lot of forum and message board owners out there. You have your work cut out for you! Not only do you have to stay on top of SEO basics, you’re also welcoming total strangers into the mix—and they can wreak havoc on your SEO rankings (many times without even meaning to). If you own a forum, you have niche SEO needs.

It’s a great thing when you see a link to your forum in the top search results for Google. This means more users finding your forum, more traffic overall and potentially more be locally seo forumsrevenue. If your target demographic is finding your forum easily, you’re on the right track. If you own a forum for collectors of vintage Barbies, you want to make sure this market is active on your site—but how?

Forum Owner Tools

The most obvious advice is to have good content, but as a forum owner you need to foster it. This means providing comprehensive responses and boosting livelier threads. Posts should be centered on topics that your audience is really interested in. Plus, “good content” is likelier to get linked by others regardless of whether it’s provided by you or your forum participants. Keep an eye out for great writers and ask if they’d like to be a moderator or start a post.

Getting the community interested is key to your success. However, you’ll probably stumble across some flamers, baiters or trolls at some point. This is where strict policing comes into play. Some will just spew abuse while others might build in a bunch of backlinks to use as spam (such as trying to get people to their Viagra site). This doesn’t just poison conversations, but it also destroys your SEO. Find them, ban them and keep them quiet. This starts by having terms of use that helps everyone police himself or herself.

Don’t Get Tunnel Vision

Your site might be all about the forum, but don’t forget about the homepage and other landing pages. Search engine algorithms still depend on these for indexing and you can boost your rankings here, too. Make sure you still follow SEO best practices for “regular websites,” which includes avoiding black hat tricks and keeping up with the generic best practices. When it comes to naming your community sections, make it as literal as possible and don’t get cute.

For example, if there’s a general discussion site for Ken Dolls, name it “Ken Dolls General Discussion,” not “Her Other Half.” You might come up with an adorable name for your forums, but Google doesn’t care about creativity. Make it blunt and to the point so that Google (and your not so savvy users) know what it is.

A Little Encouragement

Quality links and videos are SEO gold, so encourage your users to embed them into the forum. This will also boost discussions. However, ensure that it doesn’t slow down the page by only allowing YouTube and Vine videos. These popular options are fast and search engine algorithms trust them.

Also make it easy to link, and brush up on your forum management and SEO skills. Keeping up to date with the trends and advances will make you a better forum owner—and the better forum owner you are, the better your rankings will be.

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