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Forum & Community Links


Web forums and groups are the modern incarnation of the old bulletin board and Usenet systems. If there is a topic, hobby, interest or niche you can think of; there’s a forum (or 5,276) on the subject. Forums for your niche are great places to build your reputation and image as well as get links. They’re also a prime resource for finding content in the form of questions and topics to answer or discuss on your own site.

Some forums will allow you to include a link in your profile or your signature, but these are often ‘nofollowed’ or use a redirect (meaning the engines won’t count the links). Even if you’re not allowed to include links, it’s often worthwhile to mention URLs without hyperlinking them. Even if you don’t get credit for the link, people who like what you have to say may visit and link to you on their own.

This networking aspect of forum communities can be very powerful. As you’ve likely noticed, many effective link building strategies require you to develop and make use of relationships. Forums are where you can build those relationships. As such, you should be true to yourself but always be aware of your brand. In fact, its can be a good idea to use your URL or brand name as your profile name.

Remember, don’t be a shill. You’re trying to build relationships and visibility here. People will be more interested in what you say and do if you’re likeable or at least interesting, preferably both (although controversy can have its own advantages). Don’t be the Amway salesman that people avoid because he’s always trying to push his product on you. Many forums will immediately ban folks who shill for their sites or services.

General Web Forums:

There are thousands of web forums out there. The majority fall into a wide variety of niches that range from semi-broad to, “really, someone’s into that?” Some of the biggest forums, however, are general topic groups with enormous user bases. There are, without question, many areas on each of these where you will find relevant space to participate.

Some of the biggest general forums are:
Boards in the Technology section of Offtopic:

Specific Topic Forums:

Find a few or a few dozen forums in your niche and poke around. One nice thing about topical forums is that you know the readership is interested in your topic and therefore more likely to check out your site. There are far too many to list here, but you can always do a search for forums in your arena (use a search like “Indian Recipes” + forum at Google) or look at the Big-Boards forum directory.

Mega Forums:

There are some sites that are so big and so diverse that they have their own gravitational pull. With millions of users and countless thousands of posts every day, these are the conversation hubs of the internet.
  • Google Groups (formerly Usenet) which has tens of thousands of different groups representing millions of users. There is almost no topic you cannot find on Google Groups. If there is, go ahead and start a new forum on here for it.
  • Craigslist Forums offer extremely active running commentary in 54 forums on each of their sites for every major city in the US (and many around the world). CL forums are extremely conversational and it’s easy to get involved and get to know other users. A great bonus is they’re almost all local, allowing for the possibility of in-person business or social networking as well. This is very good for location-specific businesses such as brick-and-mortar retail or service firms in a particular region.
  • Yahoo! Answers isn’t a forum per se, but you can get on there and market yourself as an expert and a valuable resource in your areas of focus. With over 65 million user-generated answers to over 7 million user-submitted questions, Yahoo! Answers is definitely a good place to strut your stuff and build an image as an authority in your field. Bonus: great answers to interesting questions can gain featured status and/or get reposted by users, which translates into links.
A new question at Yahoo! Answers: