|Does a forum need a blog?|
Obviously a forum doesn't *need* a blog but is it a good idea to have if getting visitors from search is important?
I ask because it seems that an editorial blog post which covers the gist of a forum thread in detail is more likely to be well ranked than the forum post itself.
I see some sites creating posts just to talk about a forum thread's subject just to outrank the thread right now. Many of these link to the thread, including some to WW.
Just for better search results? Probably more trouble than it'll be worth.
I'm a strong proponent of "no blog unless you have something worthwhile to say"
Why add a blog? Why not just use the forum to post in depth write-ups? For example Brett's "26 steps to 15k a day" was a blog quality post but was published via forum.
I guess some blog platforms might handle trackbacks and pings better than some forum platforms but I don't think the answer lies within publishing methods.
I think the key is as netmeg mentions "have something worthwhile to say". if you don't have enough to say or enough time to write it up then consider recruiting forum members that will commit to posting a long, blog quality post once a week. That way the workload is spread out and isn't a burden on any one person.
I have a fairly successful forum, I added a blog a few years back when blogging was the rage. The blog didn't get nearly as much traffic and I hated blogging. So to me, it wasn't worth it at all. The forums are more interactive anyway. The forums accomplish the same basic thing.
|I ask because it seems that an editorial blog post which covers the gist of a forum thread in detail is more likely to be well ranked than the forum post itself. |
I've noticed this, and have been seeing for some time that a certain level of "cannibalization" occurs between news blogs discussing forums and the forums themselves. Hard to say whether a well formulated editorial blog post will end up driving traffic to the forum or siphoning it off.
Depends in part, I think, on whether a forum's threads tend to get more into depth than the blog post does, and how quickly they do so. That in turn depends on the forum's community and level of participation of its best members, and to some degree on the nature of the particular topic. It's worth noting, btw, that this cannibalization works both ways... ie, forums do borrow from news sites.
In terms of rankings, the same thought crossed my head recently. If it's one site doing both, ie summarizing its own forum discussions, derivative editorial blog posts might well undercut the forum. It can be a fine balancing act, one that needs to be considered carefully.
I agree with netmeg, though... don't reflexively build a blog unless you really do have something to say.
I have seen no indication that a) forum threads have any trouble ranking or that b) a blog post about a topic might actually rank better than a forum thread about that same topic on the same site.
Discussions here, for example, typically have well thought out, substantive responses. There are not that many "one liner" responses here. If you have a forum with active, contributing participants, I see no need to add a blog.
However, other forums like those overrun with spammers (e.g DigitalPoint) might have a much higher percentage of non-substantive threads and response (e.g. "Nice post." or "Thanks for sharing."). Even with a lower quality forum, I'm not sure having a blog with good content would even help as those types of forums often have so many negative signals that a little quality content is not likely to help.
Besides, it just seems a bit weird to me having two different UGC type of formats on the same site. Seems a bit redundant. It's like you'll be trying to develop two different communities on the same site.
This may simply be a technical issue - most forum platforms, at least in their default installed form, are and have always been terrible as far as even the basic SEO is concerned - no canonical URLs, session IDs in URLs, both threads and individual messages indexable (and sometimes under a few different URLs each), various sorting representations of the same content indexable under different URLs and the list goes on. Name a particular glaring technical SEO issue - all forum software packages have it unless you spend time to find, install, often times pay for a patch that cures some of the issues. Usually, with every basic system upgrade you break all your patches and the list of SEO related issues goes on.
|I see some sites creating posts just to talk about a forum thread's subject just to outrank the thread right now. Many of these link to the thread, including some to WW. |
Wordpress is much cleaner from the basic technical SEO stand point out of the box and many easily installed SEO-oriented plugins exist, so any site starting out as a WP blog, has a head start compared to a forum site just starting out with all defaults.
I would say that having a prominently featured blog with anything other than site update notices in it, one which emphasizes the point of view of the forum site owner, may be detrimental to the free flow of opinions and therefore the amount of discussions and UGC thus created. Some people would feel pressured to comply with the "official" point of view of the site and leave to find another one instead.
Personally, I've tried many times to either grow a forum at a blog site or add a blog to what was originally a forum and had succeeded in neither.
I would be very much interested myself in how this particular discussion turns out and I might suggest extending it somewhat by adding thoughts on what else, other than, or perhaps together with, a blog can be added to a forum site to supplement without jeopardizing its main sources of referral traffic. How about a directory, for example?