Welcome to number seven in a series of nine posts that reveals some of the best, but most often overlooked, ways to score a great SEO boost that are perfect for adding to your 2021 SEO plans and strategies. Today’s overlooked SEO boosting gem is an oldie but a goodie: forum posting.
In 2021 if you begin to discuss link building most people – SEOs included – will start talking about guest posts, citations, and perhaps reciprocal linking. Hopefully, they will not start talking about buying links as that has, and will always be a no.
As backlinks remain so especially important, even in 2021, if you could find another way to get some great, very niche-specific ones it would be great, wouldn’t it?
SEO trends and best practices come and go, but an incredibly old SEO backlinking practice – forum commenting – has really fallen out of favor. However, when done right, forum commenting can still be an excellent source of good, do-follow SEO backlinks, and that is what we are going to look at in greater detail now.
What is a Forum in 2021?
The first question that needs to be answered is here:
When we say “forum” in 2021, what do we mean? Honestly, the same thing we did back in 1994. But let’s get it a little fleshed out to make sure we are on the same page, especially if you are newer to the idea and Reddit is your only point of reference. A forum is an online platform that:
- Is a spot where individuals gather to converse, via forum commenting.
- Content is (typically) concentrated on a single niche or industry.
- Allows you to participate via a forum membership in the available conversations or, sometimes, start your own.
Basically, there are four different versions of forums that are available today:
Traditional Public Forums– These are the regular forums that typically use “threads” and “sub-forums” for related topics to host wider discussions. A modern version example of a forum, in a broad sense, would be Reddit. It’s hard to earn followed links from Reddit though.
A smaller example, taking our own industry, would be the lively Moz Q&A Forum.
Private Forums-Traditional forums that require a monthly membership fee for participation. These forums are usually not open to the general public.
Q&A Sites-A conventional platform hybrid that allows users to ask questions and receive replies from other members of the site. A prime example of a Q&A forum is Quora.
“Groups” on social media-Public or private discussion groups on social media platforms such as Facebook, generally built around a shared interest (i.e., parenting, dieting, fashion, etc.).
Defining Forums for Backlinks
As you will see in just a minute, when it comes to backlinks, not all forums are created equal. For this reason, for the rest of this post, we want to give you a working definition for “forum” to be used as a reference point: Any type of forum that offers you the opportunity to receive a do-follow backlink back to your site.
Now, there are two main points to make about this concept before we move on:
Most of the forums that meet this definition will be traditional forums, both public and private. Usually, Q&A sites do not offer do-follow backlinks.
Many popular forums will be ruled out by this definition. Many of the more popular forums (not all) do not offer do-follow links, and while social media forums and groups are excellent for traffic generation, they do not offer backlinks.
This post will specifically discuss forum commenting to get great backlinks from forums. But that does mean you should ignore forums that won’t give you a do-follow backlink. There are still solid SEO reasons to use them:
- Forums help you drive targeted traffic to your site. Forums offer hundreds (even thousands) of members who make up your target audience direct access to you. This means that you can convince certain members to visit your site that you may not have had access to before.
- Forums allow you to create relationships in your industry with influencers.
- They let you connect with other key influencers and create relationships that can further assist you in growing your company.
But not all forums are equal in their usefulness for SEO link building.
And here’s the thing…
There might be several forums that seem active and well-populated, but that does not automatically make them relevant to your business for SEO linking purposes. There would be little value in some forums because:
- They exist, but they have really been inactive. You can’t have a conversation with yourself!
- They offer links, but they are no-follow links. In other words, you will not get any “link juice” from links that point back to your website.
- They are not niche-specific in a way that is relevant to you, meaning that any conversations you try to start won’t come across as authentic, and your account will be dismissed as spam.
What Makes a Forum Valuable for SEO Link Building?
For a forum to be considered useful to your SEO link building efforts, it needs to:
- Host a well-moderated, active, and vibrant community
- Offer do-follow links that will pass your site valuable link juice
- Genuinely be related to your business and/or website’s industry or niche
Easy enough, right?
That now understood it’s time to discuss how to find relevant, active forums that will also give you the chance to gain those all-important SEO backlinks.
Finding the Best Forums for SEO Backlinks
One of the easiest ways to find relevant forums is to just Google it. Make use of long-tail keywords, and you will often get decent results quickly. For example, for, let’s say, a company offering custom coffee blends (a very hot niche in 2021) the following might work well:
Lots to choose from already. Some may not offer the backlinks you need, but that is something we’ll move onto in a minute. For now, take a look at all the top results. Even if they turn out to not offer the link juice you want, they may offer some of the other benefits we discussed earlier and be worth keeping in mind.
Some may also turn out to be irrelevant and eliminating them from consideration early on will save you from wasted time and effort further down the line.
You can also make use of some popular SEO tools to check your competitor’s backlinks to see if they are active on any good do-follow link forums.
Determining If a Forum Offers Do-Follow Backlinks
Having built a list of promising, just right for your niche forums it’s time to find out how much link juice they can offer you via do-follow backlinks (if any)
If you use Google Chrome, you can use the browser’s inspect function to examine the links on a forum page. Or you can make use of the really straightforward way and install a browser add-on. If you use Google Chrome Automatic Backlink Checker is an excellent choice, and Firefox fans can make use of the excellent Backlink Checker by LRT.
Either tool will highlight the links on a given forum page (or any website page actually) with two distinct colors. One represents no-follow links. The other color represents do-follow links. Easy as pie.
Earning Do-follow SEO Backlinks from Forums
It’s time to start earning some useful SEO backlinks now that you have found some forums to join!
There are three key ways to earn SEO backlinks from forums:
1. Profile Page
After you join a forum, your profile page is created. Virtually all forums have such a page and allow you to enter the URL of your website in a particular section.
2. Forum ‘Sig’
This is the area underneath a forum post that shows your personal “signature.” In this section, some forums will allow you to add a link to your site. Some are quite simple; others allow very fancy ‘sigs’ that you can also use for branding purposes.
3. In-post Links
These are links which are included in the individual posts. Some forums will require that you use the full URL, and some will allow anchor text, which looks nicer, but is no more powerful in terms of ‘link juice’.
Time to Start Posting For Backlinks
If you have found where to position your do-follow links, developing your forum posting strategy is your next move.
But it’s important to be conscious that each forum you join will have its own unique set of rules and guidelines to follow. That said, for virtually every forum you enter, there are universal rules that will apply.
Here are 4 of the most important guidelines to follow:
1. Read the rules and guidelines for the forum.
Always, always read the rules and guidelines of the forum before you create your first post A proper understanding of these rules will prevent you from being blocked and some mod deleting your profile (thus removing any valuable backlinks that you have earned).
2. Play Nice
This includes other participants, like yourself, and the moderators of the forum. Having a disagreement and voicing your opinion is okay. Using offensive and divisive words, images, or general tone to do so is never okay.
3. Become a Go-To Poster
Know, your purpose is not only to create backlinks but also to drive more traffic and create useful links. The best way to do so is by giving useful guidance to other members. Become that go-to poster that people look to get great info/help/opinions.
4. Don’t Be Overtly Promotional
A perfect way to get yourself banned from most forums fast is to blatantly promote yourself or your products and services via your forum commenting. Some forums will allow some form of promotion. But exercise caution even then and do so sparingly. Promote yourself by providing other members with value.
5. Stay on Topic
Do not hijack threads by posting content that is irrelevant. The best thing to do is to start a new thread and launch your own conversation if you can’t contribute to the current conversation but have something similar to share.
6. Know What You Are Talking About
People still join forums in 2021 because they are passionate about something, whether that’s coffee, cartoons, coding, or crochet. They usually know quite a lot about the topic too, although most are looking for knowledge and/or help too.
This means they can spot a fraud a mile off. So, when you are forum commenting, make sure that you know what you are talking about and that your information is accurate.
7. Monitor Your Links
Good forum commenting takes time and effort, so you do need to try to ensure you are getting a decent ROI. As links come in from these forum postings run them through a link checking tool – SEM Rush has a great one – to help determine which are most valuable to you. This will help you narrow down the project to just the forums that are providing you with high-quality backlinks.
Forum posting can be effective in 2021, but it will be time-consuming. If you are interested in the idea, but lack the time to execute it, or are not sure if you have the workforce to spare, we can help. Contact us today to discover how the Pearl Lemon team can help you.