The Hidden (and Powerful) Benefits of Frequenting Forums
While most people understand the benefits of forums from a “gathering information” perspective, many don’t think about the hidden benefits of forums. The most common reason for visiting is to ask questions or get advice. That’s a good enough reason to go, but there are other – more beneficial – reasons to become a forum frequenter.
Besides providing a wealth of quality information, forums can also be powerful promotional tools. There are three distinct ways forums can benefit you. And all it takes is a few minutes a day to help others in need.
I think you’re probably familiar with the term “link popularity” by now. In case you’re not, it refers to the number of incoming links pointing to your site from other sites. Forums can serve as excellent link popularity boosters.
Each time you post a question or response on a forum that’s spidered by the engines, you get one extra link back to your site. Every time your signature (along with the link in it) appears, it counts as an additional link. Since Google puts a lot of weight on link popularity, posting to forums can give your rankings quite a boost!
ACTION STEP ONE:
Create a powerful signature line to use in your forum posts that includes benefits to the reader and your URL.
Establishing Yourself as an Expert
In addition to the extra help with your site’s search engine rankings, forums also give you an outlet to establish yourself as an expert.
Countless people flood to forums in search of free advice. Give it to them! If you have the answer to a forum visitor’s problem … tell him/her the answer. (Even if this is something you would normally charge a fee for.) By doing so, you show the others reading your post that you know your stuff.
People love to be in the company of an expert, and they also love to do business with an expert they trust.
ACTION STEP TWO:
Be prepared to give away some free, quality advice. Don’t skirt the issue. You won’t be able to establish yourself as an expert unless you “prove” to others that you know what you’re talking about.
Getting Referrals and Leads
Forums have started coming into their own in the area of referral and lead generation. Because “lurkers” can quietly click through forums to see who has said what, they have the opportunity to get to know you “behind the scenes.”
Be careful what you post on forums. You never know who’s watching! Be friendly, professional, and on guard. There are hundreds (even thousands) of prospective customers out there watching your every move.
However, this is truly a good thing. When you actively post quality information in forums, you leave a legacy that shows the world you’re good at what you do. Anytime this happens, referrals and leads are bound to come your way.
ACTION STEP THREE:
Find one or two quality forums that attract those you’d like to do business with. Then put your best foot forward. Don’t downgrade your competition. Be professional, friendly, and helpful.
The next time you think you don’t have a few extra minutes to “fool around” in a forum, think again. You’ll be doing yourself a favor by making the time. From simply sharing your knowledge and experience with others, you could very well end up with stronger search engine rankings and more clients!
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