I was reading a very interesting post over at cre8asite yesterday – where the owner was bemoaning the fact that their forums are just not what they used to be, traffic, posts, registrations, interactions etc. are all down, and she was asking the question whether its really worth carrying on in today’s world of twitter and facebook et al.
The thread I must say dismayed me – I for one do not beleive that forums are a “dead industry” if they were I never would have started this site last year. I love forums – because they are what got me started when I was new to SEO asking questions on forums was what gave me the initial knowledge that I now depend on for my living. Back then cre8asite was a great resource, with tonnes of good information and the key was that it was an ACTIVE forum, which is now sadly declining.
It got me thinking (and not for the first tim): what makes a great SEO forum?
Well – to me it depends on a lot of stuff
1) a compelling user experience:
the forum itself has to be well designed, simple and intuitive to use, and packed with features and functions that get people to come back
2) a community that cares:
any forum is made of its members – a forum with no good members is useless – it may as well be one of the billion or so rubbish seo blogs around
3) great SEO:
a forum about SEO (or indeed, in the wider respect any forum) will not thrive, or even survive unless is has the basics of search engine optimization covered, from a good site structure including relevant URL’s, on site architecture etc.
4) Give something back:
in the case of SEO forums, that generally means allowing users to link back to their own sites, the traffic here improved dramatically when I removed the nofollow’s off external links
5) Provide great tools as well as information:
another great traffic retention tool that we use is our seo tools section – the traffic that this section alone gets is now considerable with over 20,000 unique users per month.
In my opinion at least, cre8asite has been left behind in the last few years by “better” forums (hopefully such as this one) that tick more boxes in the 5 sections I list above. The market has NOT shifted to twitter and facebook, as these platforms do not inherently lend themselves to public discussions. They are social networking sites, NOT forums.
If you have any feedback as to what you think a great SEO forum needs, please let me know in the comments section or at the forum – Im happy to include anything in our site that we are not already doing, and if you are an active SEO community member, please check out other great sites including Kim’s cre8asite, great resources should not be allowed to fade and die.