You’re the proud owner of a new, fantastic, deal breaking and completely.. empty forum! Congratulations!
There’s nothing more sad than an empty forum, but it’s new, nobody, not even Google knows about it – and they’re quick to learn about new websites. So what do you do?
There’s a lot of ways you can get activity on your forum, but keep this one thing in mind; no one want’s to be the first poster. No visitor that is. So you have to.
Make the first activity yourself
This is perhaps the most simply, yet to some, a hard part. All you really have to do, is create a bunch of fake accounts, and make forum posts. The one thing which can be hard, is to make it look trustworthy and not obvious fake. So if you have 6 accounts, and 5 talk, argue and just behave identical, you can be sure some people will see what you’re doing.
If you’re not comfortable having a debate or 5 with yourself over several forum posts, ask your friends to help you. If you have 10 friends who each make 3 accounts, then you got the first 30 members. If each of those 3 accounts starts two debates, and answers 3 more, then you easily get the first 60 posts and 90 replies. The more activity you have, the more likely people are to join you.
Wait, what? Join other forums? How does that even help mine?
That’s quite simple. There’s forums with the simple purpose of helping other forum owners get activity on their forum. They do so by either selling post services, or trading. An example could be 2 members and 10 posts on your forum for 2 members and 10 posts on another persons forum. It’s win win, but quite often low quality. It is on the other hand, a fine start if your friends doesn’t feel like lending you a hand. There’s plenty of those, just search for ‘forum owner forums’ or something like that on Google. While you’re on the various forums, some of them has a ‘forum showcase’ or ‘advertise your forum’ section, where you can write a bit about your forum and leave a link. The same with signatures.
The more activity you have on the forum, the more backlinks you can get to your own forum. Backlinks are essential when ranking in Google.
Build backlinks – that’s SEO, bro
Okay the last part was unnecessary but now it’s there. Also, backlinks is a very small part of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in general.
In order for Google to know about your site, it has to visit it first. You can do that in two ways.
- The slow way, submit your site to Google. That will put it in a line of links for Googles crawlers to visit.
- The faster way. Find a big, popular website. A forum is preferable, since it’s easier to make a post with a link. The best would be if it’s related to your own forums niche. But make a post, and include a link to your website in that post. Then a crawler reads the post, finds your link and visits it. The slow way can take up to 24 hours or more. The faster way can be a matter of minutes.
Now that Google know about your website, you need some more links. Be careful though, too many too fast is spammy. Google punish spam. So build them slowly and from various sources. That means don’t only stick to forum backlinks because they’re easy. Comment on blogs, write guest posts on blogs and include a link to your forum in the blogpost.
You can also write small mini-sites at Squidoo. Find something related to your forums niche, and write a ‘lense’ about it. In there you can put a link back to your forum.
When you linkbuild, make sure you don’t use the same anchortext all the time. Like ‘MyCoolForum.com’, instead vary it, so some links is ‘click here’, ‘visit my forum’, ‘dog-owners forum’ – only if it’s actually about dogs. But you get my point. Don’t use your main keyword all the time. Google will punish that. For a better understanding about SEO in general, there’s a lot of guides to be found online, and books to be read. It’s a big topic and changes quite often.
Add games and an off-topic section
What? Games? How the heck does that help me? And off-topic? Why?
Googles algorithm includes the average time a visitor is on your site. The longer they stay, the better. This isn’t some fancy trick, but it’s a small way to hang onto people a little longer. The off-topic is for people to rant, chat, debate and whatnot anything that is not related to your forums niche. That contributes to more content – which is a good thing, and more pageviews, because people just got to see one more topic before they log off for the night. You know, like those silly cat movies – “Just one more” quickly becomes twenty. The games won’t help a thing bringing in new users, it’s just a fun addition. Especially if you got some members who likes to challenge each other in anything possible.
Also, always have an introduction section. If every member made an introduction, imagine how many easy posts that is when you start to get new members regular. Many people wants to say hello, so give them a place to do so.
Last thing is an addition to the off-topic section. You might know some forum games, and there are a million others. Just use your imagination and you got a new game. Games like ‘count to 1000’, and ‘continue the line’, ‘would you rather’ and so on. Again, it’s small things which adds you a lot of content, so Google has more to put out for people to find.
Hang in there!
I just want to finish off saying it won’t be easy. The first few steps with a forum are hard, and requires you to keep constant focus. Log in every day and post something new. Create a new member every now and then, make an introduction and answer a question or make a new topic yourself. Anything which keeps the ball rolling at all times. Eventually it will pick up speed and make a snowball effect.
A last thing to keep in mind: Keep the advertisements away in the beginning! No one want to join a new forum which is already sticky with Google AdSense and other types of advertisements. When you start to get a decent amount of traffic, say 100-200 visitors a day, then you can slowly start to add some advertisements. But don’t get greedy, people will be affected. And never, ever get pop-up or pop-under advertisements. They’re a royal pain in the butt.
With all that said, and in case you’re actually still reading, I just want to wish you good luck with your new forum.