|Non Spammy Link Dev Using Forums and Blogs|
Promoting Your Business While Winning Friends
I'm convinced that social networks are good for building mindshare, especially forums. But mindshare seems to take a backseat to building links or link based traffic. Is mindshare preferable to cracking an algo or attracting forum traffic
There are three kinds of forum spammers that are missing the boat. The first kind are the old fashioned forum spammers that are bulk spamming for links. The automated ones solely interested in links are easily blocked, hasta la vista, whatever. Their sites are usually crap anyway so whatever, who cares.
The second kind are the amateur spammers with decent sites who mistakenly think it's a good idea to spam forums with promotional posts to their websites as a way to "spread the news" about their site. The best forums are going to catch this and delete it.
The third kind are the ones who periodically visit forums to spam them about the latest updates to their websites, blogs, business. Whatver. Not everyone is going to ban that, especially if there's good content. It's a way to get visibility but I think the visibility can be increased to the point where you're actually building mindshare.
Creating mindshare is important, maybe more important than the algo cracking benefits of links or a few visitors from a bunch of sites. That's what this is about.
Many forums allow signature lines. Those who wish to spread awareness of their business generally can include a link to their business in it. But I think if they really want to create something that keeps on giving a focus on building mindshare instead of traffic or links is best. The way to do it is to post useful answers and discussions. This is the best way to make your business known because people respond to those who create a positive reputation in a forum. This takes time but it pays off to become the "resident expert" within a forum community. Your business is then associated with the goodwill associated with your community membership. That good will, imo, builds mindshare.
One of the clearest signals of a "no value website" is a "no value comment" in any form of social media.
In the blogosphere a great deal of commenting is driven by the common blog promotion advice that "the best way to promote your blog is to comment on other blogs". But is that advice - in and of itself - really good advice? Promote? Promote what? Promote your self interest?
I think that's the point where most people run off the rails. When they read that advice they construe it and contextualize "the advice" as promote = promote self.
Promote, in the blog comment sense, means to "advance and thereby engage" the comment reader's self interest. In other words, by your comments you need to show me that you might have a better approach, a better answer, better skill in addressing the issue of the thread. THEN I might visit your website and linger there.
Tragic, how people fail to grasp that distinction. They go right to showing their "me me me" version of "interest" instead of "you you you, the reader's" self interest. How telling such comments are.
It's the reader's (potential visitor's) self-interest = THEIR self-concern - that matters. IF you show, by your comments, that YOU understand THEIR reason for reading the thread then THEY might pay you the honor of visiting your website.
Sure, no value added comments may gain the rare visitor, but it's not really a visit so much as it's a confirmation of the original thought: No value comments tend to lead to no value websites.
[edited by: Webwork at 3:48 pm (utc) on Sep. 4, 2008]
Like many things in this space, there is a continuum between spamming/aggressive self promoting and creating effective links and communities.
When I started blogging a couple of years ago, I decided not to worry about traffic, visitors, backlinks and the like, instead focusing on building a directory of relevant links (my blog was the one of the first within its sector). For about eight months, the blog served a tiny audience, then some of the people receiving links from me recriprocated.
I also entered the forum space -- giving prominnet links to some highly relevant forums and then, gingerly, stepped into the discussions on the forums -- communicating with the moderator in advance if I had concern that my posting might be seen as advertising or self-promotional. The forum moderator, noting the traffic he was receiving from my blog -- and the relevance of the information -- cleared the postings -- thus building traffic and SERPs even more.
Now the blog is #1 on relevant Google keyword searches -- others have come along behind me, seeking link-backs and commenting. I delete anything I see as insincere spam or what appears to be auto-generated crap.
Of course, every few days I am spammed by so-called SEO experts offering to put some of my inactive domains "to the top page of Google". However, I don't worry -- my blog is starting to generate useful revenue as it enhances the business reputation.
Success here really comes through patience and generosity -- at the start, I set out to grant one-way back links to any organization meeting the blog's criteria, without worrying about recirpocation.
Spamming forums takes time and a bit of work. Much of it is about building credibility, but there's a few ways I look at it.
First, people can smell self promotion a mile away. Don't self promote directly, it's not neccessary if you're working this right
Contribute. Speak authoritatively. Do it for free, but do it like you're getting paid. Remember -people want to deal with an expert. Don't hold anything back - if folks have a question in your area of expertise, tell them everything. Make yourself the expert in the forum on whatever subject it is that you do. Rather than self promoting, people will do some reading, need some work done and call the expert (unless you think people would naturally gravitate towards folks they perceive as second tier?).
Forums obviously are a community. But that means there's outsiders and insiders. Make yourself an insider by posting regularly and helping, unselfishly. With a long history of helping folks, a tiny bit of self promotion can go unnoticed. More importantly, other forum members will advocate on your behalf. That's better than self promotion.
And, most forum moderates give a bit of leeway to regular posters. A post that says 'here's some more information, see my website for an article' with a link means instant delete if you've got 3 posts. If you've got 500 posts helping folks that same link drop is going to stick. Heck, I've even posted on a forum that doesn't allow self promotion with an article similiar to this, i.e. 'how to spam this forum even though it doesn't allow self promotion' and the post stuck :).
That all takes a bit of time. But like most promotional things it's work but that's what makes it work.
I contribute to a fairly large forum myself, not even in the area of my niche (I mostly post on SEO). Most folks there have no idea what I do for a living - it's certainly not providing SEO services though I do get solicited :). No, I get traffic to my site from the forum and I get others posting my url :).
I don't allow self promotion on my forum in any way, shape or form... except in very very rare circumstances. I don't even allow signature links and even if one managed to briefly slip under the radar, signatures only appear to logged in members i.e. invisible to robots and guests.
... there is an exception... for example, a very famous author lives in an Asian country that my website covers. He came along to my website and started posting. I verified it really is him as his registration details match those on his own website e.g. email address... he regularly mentions his own books in his posts... but those posts are of such a high standard, contain so much useful information and have had so much thought put into them, I am more than happy for him to promote himself as part of the bargain... and I'm very grateful for the distinguished presence and top notch community participation.
|...I'm very grateful for the distinguished presence and top notch community participation. |
You experienced the positive aspect of allowing promotional sigs. I'm interested in knowing why you haven't explored easing off on the restriction to encourage more authority members. I allow forum signatures under the condition that the posts are useful and not promotional. Obviously this is going to vary by forum topic, but for some topics there are many experts who, given the choice, will take advantage of the opportunity to build mindshare.
Isn't this the relationship with GoogleGuy? It was good for WebmasterWorld, good for Google, and most importantly it was good for the forum members.
|Sure, no value added comments may gain the rare visitor, but it's not really a visit so much as it's a confirmation of the original thought: No value comments tend to lead to no value websites. |
What is the definition of a "no value comment"? Sorry I was confused by that term.
Anyway, I digress. No solicitations, self-promotions, links, etc are allowed on our site/forum. You open to door for folks like webmasters to simply contribute for the sake of self-promotion... which we are not about.
We allow representatives from companies to participate, but they are not allowed to post PR stuff, solicitations, etc. They can simply represent their company by being a helpful net citizen on our site. That alone is a tremendous value for them.
Seems to work well for us. We've been growing for 8 years, we get over 1 million visitors/month... 50% returning traffic. So we can't complain.
All those barriers can be broken. What if I've got say 800 posts on the forum, so I'm a regular and hopefully useful poster? A discussion starts on, oh, anything. And I post something like 'the post on this blog seems to disagree' and post a link to a blog. You check the blog and it's a 3 page information article on exactly the topic being discussed.
I bet that post stands in just about any forum I've ever seen.
Do that twice, and all of a sudden other forum members will post links to that site, and drive visitors through. (i.e., i'm not even posting a link to my site. Someone else does it, that's hardly self promotion :) ).
Do that with 25 posts and the post gets deleted. Do it after 6 months and a few hundred good quality posts and I bet it stands. The admin is going to have a look at my userid and let it ride - or they risk a 'wth are you doing deleting my comments?' PM.
Same goes with blog comments. I don't do much of that anymore but when I did some of it, I'd basically write an article as the comment. Two, three hundred words, no problem. And I'd back up points in the 'article' by referencing a site.
Stuff like that gets past the most paranoid admins because it doesn't look like the rest of the spammers. Of course it's being done for exactly the same reason as the spammers, but in this case the admin is getting something in return - lots of content.
I've read about becoming a useful member of a blog by posting repeated comments before link dropping but I've never done that with a blog (at least not with the intention of a link drop). If the comment is informative enough, even a drive by post will stick.
It's not self promotion if it's seen as routine background noise of the site, from a trusted member.
|It's not self promotion if it's seen as routine background noise of the site, from a trusted member. |
You can always slide by with one if you are an established member. That takes time, lots of time. But do it twice and you show up on a report... we have a custom audit report that monitors for repeat urls showing up in comments. From any user, trusted or new.
Also, understand that a site owner knows a lot more about you than you think. At least in heavily moderated forums...
>>Also, understand that a site owner knows a lot more about you than you think. At least in heavily moderated forums...
Don't teach your grandmother to suck egss :). I run a forum targetted at salespeople in my niche, many who are active in SEO.
If it's done properly - i.e. not overtly self promotional but instead used as a reference, then I bet I'd still get away with it :). You'd see 100 posts, a link, another 100 quality posts, then a link drop (embedded in a quality post). And as I intimated above, you'd likely not be very sure since the posts wouldn't be self promotional but instead would be citing a website for reference - and not want to delete a link from a member who's contributing heavily and routinely. And even if you 'suspect', why would you delete from a regular forum member? There's a real possibility that someone like that says 'I wasn't self promoting' and there goes a valuable member. At that point most sensible folks would just blow past it and carry on with deleting the ongoing buycialischeaponline usernames that flood forums these days. Certainly the rest of the forum members are going to read the post and not care - why would the forum mod?
And as I noted, once you've dropped the word out there, in a lot of cases other forum members will post the URL in the future, unasked.
That's why Brent has to completely disallow URL's here. There's just no way to distinguish the motivations when it's pushed that far.
In any regard, the point that's being made is that doing a drive by link drop after 10 posts doesn't work. Contributing to a forum over the long haul can get you links and traffic even from forums that completely disallow self promotion. As I noted above, I actually posted 'how to spam this forum' on a forum that disallows self promotion. And they let the post stand :).
Good point you mentioned that I forget to confirm. We do not allow links in comments. I was referring to URLs pasted in comments (non-clickable). We monitor those.
Not allowing active links has really pretty much eliminated most spam activity.
Clearly that's the exception. Most forums allow links. To a certain extent, it's kind of a pointless forum if you can't have a conversation and link out to a site.
I've had plenty of constructive conversations throughout my life without embedding links... Both online and offline. A good forum doesn't try to differentiate the two. Helps to attract a broader audience.
That's my free tip for the day. ;-)
|You experienced the positive aspect of allowing promotional sigs. I'm interested in knowing why you haven't explored easing off on the restriction to encourage more authority members. |
My forum gets a lot of spammers, even though it's a relatively low activity forum, with a core of very active dedicated members. They are probably as good at spotting a troll/spammer as I am actually.
Posts from new members automatically go into a moderation queue before being made visible, so spam NEVER makes it into public view. If a new member joins and drops a link in the first couple of posts, they are presumed guilty and expected to prove themselves innocent in the next post. If they don't, their profile is deleted, there posts never having been made visible.
Profiles are invisible to guests and bots, so profile link spammers are also just wasting their time.
If someone genuinely wants to participate in my community, they will persevere. After a few decent posts, they get a personalised email from me welcoming them... which they invariably appreciate...
... then, and only then, can they mention their own website.
The reason for this is I have very little time to moderate my forum, as do the moderators... we got totally sick of spammers cluttering up an otherwise very well managed forum. 99 percent of people who drop a link in their first few posts disappear and never post again... so screw them.
From an outsider's perspective (new poster) I have to say, it's awfully hard to figure out the ground rules sometimes. On the one hand, there's a forum/blog about say, SEO, and everyone one posting there is already an SEO or wants to be one. I guess it makes sense that they don't harass each other. I suppose if there were a vaccuum cleaner salesmen convention, you wouldn't see guys breaking out their floor models to try to get each other to take home a brand new hoover today...
|conversations ... without embedding links |
In many of my verbal conversations, I refer to various sources, be they tv, newspaper stories, books, whatever.
With internet, can have links, which I think can add to conversations.
Even here on webmasterworld, links are important; many a thread I've seen starts with a source that's linked to.
And "web" - to me, my sites part of web; I'm happy that this is so, so links often fine I reckon.
Not, though, happy as n when get spammy links w no value: these are indeed darn nuisance.
[Albeit my sites not heaving w posters - esp if don't consider output by the saddo webmaster, ... ie, err, me; but still, I reckon best conversations not in isolation]
|99 percent of people who drop a link in their first few posts disappear and never post again... so screw them. |
Believe it or not it's possible to educate some of those people to become responsible members. Not all will respond, but with a strategic PM it's possible to work with people so they return. More people won't return than become regular posters, but that's true about people who sign up for a forum in general.
[edited by: martinibuster at 7:03 pm (utc) on Sep. 10, 2008]
I had a guy drive buy link drop - got his post deleted. He PM'ed me, not offended but kind of 'what are you doing'. I took the time to explain in detail how to portray himself as an expert, provide valuable posts without self-promoting, and that *then* people would seek him out as the expert in his field. He listened.
A couple of years later this 'drive by spammer' is now one of the most dedicated and prolific experts on my site. He routinely sends new members to the forum, and I know he's getting business from other members of the forum.