Creating a Forum

Creating a Forum

Forums are online communities where people can join to become members and discuss topics with other members of the forum; forums are normally divided up into different ‘boards’ (also known as message boards) which are basically different categories where threads and topics can be opened. Many people would like to start a forum on their website simply because they know it will give their website an active community where all visitors can chat and discuss topics related to the website or any other subject that the webmaster wishes for them to discuss; however, starting one can be daunting business because of the many factors involved, such as the choosing of forum software and the skinning of the chosen package to match the existing website – also, many people with new or small websites don’t have the sufficient knowledge to market their forum, meaning that it isn’t fulfilling its potential.

Choosing Forum Software

Choosing the right forum software for your website can be hard because there are so many to choose from – some free, some premium. The quality of free forum software is often as high as premium software, the only difference being the type and quality of support that is receieved; free forum software if often supported by an active community of volunteers whereas its premium counterpart is supported by paid and trained individuals who are normally also available via phone support. The type of software you pick in the end is down to your requirements; if you run a small site with not many visitors then you should only really go with a piece of free forum software such as PHPBB; if your website receives a large number of visitors then you will most likely need a piece of premium software such as vBulletin which is scalable to a large number of visitors. Examples of free forum packages to get you started include:

  • PHPBB – http://www.phpbb.com
  • SMF – http://www.simplemachines.org
  • MyBB – http://www.mybboard.net

Examples of premium forum packages which can scale up to a large amount of users include:

  • vBulletin – http://www.vbulletin.com
  • Invision Power Board – http://www.invisionpower.com

Marketing Your Forum

To make sure that your forum is successful you should take steps to promote to ensure that as many people as possible know about. You could try and utilize PPC programs such as Google Adsense or Yahoo Overture. If you already have a client base or a mailing list with many subscribers, then you could use that to email people who are signed up to let them know about your new forum; they will most likely join up and if the topics discussed are of high quality and interesting to read, they will most likely refer your forum to their friends who inturn shouls sign up. Link exchanges with other companies/websites is also becoming a popular way of promoting forums amongst other types of website; the more link exchanges you do, the more incoming links you will have, and the more incoming links you have the higher your Google PageRank will be. By having a high Google PageRank, you are more likely to be in the top pages and sections of search results meaning that you will get more visitors the higher your page rank is. The following is a list of PPC programs and link/banner exchanges which you should look at:

  • Google Adsense – http://www.google.com/adense
  • Yahoo Overture – http://www.overture.com
  • Adbrite – http://www.adbrite.com
  • UK Link Exchange – http://www.uklinkexchange.com
  • Link Exchanged – http://www.linkexchanged.com

Conclusion

If you use the correct forum software which is applicable to the amount of visitors you receive and the type of forum/website which you will be running, along with the use of good SEO should make your forum successful. When building incoming links you should always aim for exchanging links with websites which are the same or similar to your website, so that the people who follow the links are more likely to be interested in your website.

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