Forum SEO in 2018?

Shawn Gossman

Tazmanian Master
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Dec 16, 2005
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8,034
It has been ages since I've really messed around with forum SEO. Now that I'm working on a new forum, I figured I better get my feet wet again.

But what is forum SEO in 2018 like?

Most of the tactics I used in the previous years have been long cut out of the mix.

I figure I should focus on relevant content associated with keywords I wish to target, right? I mean I can't force members to do that, though, so maybe the focus should be on something else?

What do you all think? What is good forum SEO in 2018?
 

esquire

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Jul 11, 2010
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1,588
It completely depends upon the forum. If the content isn't great, UGC will only help lower the appeal of the most important part of what you have to offer..
 

mysiteguy

Migration Expert
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Feb 20, 2007
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3,079
Agreed - but I don't think people link to as much as they used to due to mobile devices.
Very true, which is why I believe it's so much more important these days than it used to be. You have to cast as wide a net as possible. Also, promoting good content on social media like Twitter can help with the links. Aggregators like Life Hack's, a link from them can get you traffic for years if the topic is evergreen.

Reddit links too, though they aren't as valuable, and you have to be careful not to spam them, and actually offer answers people are looking for, especially in well-moderated subreddits.

Things like URL structure and which HTML tags are used to matter a great deal doesn't anywhere near as much (which is why products like VBSEO wouldn't do much these days if they were launched).

One thing I do is try to distill page content for guests since that's what search engines see. Guests don't see signatures, the user info next to posts is less, etc.

As far as users generating content, on a couple of sites where I get more forum newbs than usual, I've changed the post topic button to "Ask A Question". Not only has it helped increase posting, it's also reduced the number of people who use conversations to ask me for the answer to their question(s)!

Good non-forum front page with an articles section helps too, not just an articles section on the forum. That draws people who aren't forum types. Interlinking keywords in articles will help drive forum members there too, and it helps focus internal "link juice".
 

Joeychgo

TAZ Administrator
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Feb 28, 2004
Messages
6,927
Things like URL structure and which HTML tags are used to matter a great deal doesn't anywhere near as much (which is why products like VBSEO wouldn't do much these days if they were launched).
Links are often not only hard to come by, but often worthless in regard to SEO. This is because so many sites use NOFOLLOW on everything. IMO, nofollow was a huge mistake by google. If you think about it, some of the most authoritative links are on forums, not in new media. A genuine link in a forum is placed by other people knowledgeable about the topic, and yet they are no follow almost always.
 

BrandonSheley

loving life
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Jan 2, 2006
Messages
2,606
SEO hasn't changed all that much Shawn, if anything it's becoming more localized.
If I was starting a new forum I would focus on quality content that answers the questions your target audience is asking.

  • I would focus on clean code (should be a no brainer)
  • Needs to work on all devices, not just your desktop (also, feels like a no brainer to me)
  • I would focus on Schema markup - https://schema.org/docs/gs.html
  • Use GWT and Analytics, submit your site to bing and yahoo too but google is king
  • -ahref and moz are excellent tools
  • - Use the data to find out what content is getting traffic and create more content elaborating those topics
  • Uniform consistent design and brand
  • Start building backlinks (even nofollow are valuable)
  • Utilize Social Media, don't silo yourself and just assume users will find you, go after them and help there everywhere you can
  • Network with others in your field
  • Offer a services that your audience will benefit from
  • Research, test, document your PPC efforts. Find what works and ditch what doesn't


I'll add to this list as I think of more tips.
Don't give up if you want it to be a success, but also don't expect things to happen overnight either.
Don't listen to anyone who says forums are dead, sure it's not as easy as it was but it's not impossible.
Utilize the tools available to you, I mentioned a few already. No need to reinvent the wheel if there is a machine that'll create wheels all day long 24/7..lol


*edit*
One of the big buzz words that's going around is skyscraper. I'll include a link that you can read more but in a nutshell it goes like this. "The basic idea is to pick popular pages, improve upon them, and then reach out to sites that linked to those lower-quality pages and get them to link to you."

https://ahrefs.com/blog/skyscraper-technique/

So find competitors in your niche with articles that you can answer better then they did.
Google wants to give it's users the best experience.
 
Last edited:

dethfire

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Jan 17, 2005
Messages
1,020
No more tricks. Google is too sophisticated. Time to step up and actually offer something of value. Random threads where members chat, aren't going to rank for anything.
 

esquire

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Jul 11, 2010
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Links are often not only hard to come by, but often worthless in regard to SEO. This is because so many sites use NOFOLLOW on everything. IMO, nofollow was a huge mistake by google. If you think about it, some of the most authoritative links are on forums, not in new media. A genuine link in a forum is placed by other people knowledgeable about the topic, and yet they are no follow almost always.
There was no avoiding this and Google had to draw the line to create criteria somewhere. It's supposed to be a tagging system for identifying what may be an advertisement, promotional or non-fully independent site of reference. Whether people are using the tools properly is a whole different story. If you ask 5 people I'm sure that at least 3 will not be able to articulate properly what backlinks are supposed to represent.

As to BrandonSheley's comments, I think he's subtly pointed out something important, which is that many of his suggestions aren't SEO per se but recommendations on how to make sure your traffic flow comes from a variety of sources and methods, including marketing. Not good to put all your eggs in one basket and diversity of efforts and returns is important for long term viability.
 
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