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Ideas for promoting my new forums sites?
Overcoming the chicken-egg content dilemma
Brawndo




msg:4279116
 9:02 pm on Mar 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have a number of forums websites, mostly niche-topic forums but also a few broader topics.
They are actually complete social/business networking sites based on my own custom codebase, but for the purposes of this post I'll refer to them as forums.

I've been doing this for about 9 years and my oldest forums have decent, though not amazing, traffic and rankings. The income they generate is almost entirely from adsense. I think that my sites are a great free resource and the ones that are actually in use by a lot of people are very well-liked by their users, who frequently express their thanks to me for building the sites. However despite being very useful, popular sites they are not getting much recognition from the search engines.

I'm also trying to start several new forums in new topic areas to help supplement my dwindling income. Promoting a new forum is difficult because of the lack of content, though in the past I've been able to overcome this by emailing other webmasters within the same niche, and asking for a link swap. Although I'm not entirely convinced that link trades are dead (provided it's done over time with similar-topic sites), I am very sick of doing it and I'd like to redesign my promotion strategy from the ground up.

There seem to be volumes of info on what you shouldn't do, but very little about what one SHOULD do to gain rankings. I am aware of linkbaiting but I find the idea unappealing and contrived, especially in light of all the crappy made-for-linkbait articles that I've come across recently. I got into this business because I enjoy writing code and providing useful resources to people, not because I want to write blog articles. It's not that I'm completely unwilling to try it, but it seems like there must be a better way to get people using these forums, and to improve the rankings of my established ones.

So I'm looking for any white-hat ideas that actually make sense for promoting a new forum/community site. Also, any tips on de-sandboxing my newer forums would also be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

Planet13




msg:4293982
 3:06 am on Apr 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

I got into this business because I enjoy writing code and providing useful resources to people, not because I want to write blog articles.


With all due respect, it sounds to me that your true calling is "coding with a purpose," and not entrepreneurship.

I've been in business for 13 years now, and I know that what success I have has come from the fact that I love BUSINESS. If you don't love the BUSINESS aspect of it, you will get killed by people who do - or have the resources to exploit.

So, I would recommend that if you DO want to do the forums, then it would probably be best to get people to contribute QUALITY content on niche areas - articles that REALLY help people out and that people will want to link to naturally.

But be prepared to shell out some serious dollars for serious content. I read somewhere that columnists for the N.Y. Times make about $80K to $100K a year. On the other end of the spectrum, ehow authors get $15 an article, and I dare say that they are overpaid.

So you are going to have to decide what you want to be - a coder or a businessman - and be prepared to do what it takes.

If you do hire out quality writers, then you will have to of course get links to your content. That will require lots of PR. If you aren't willing to do it yourself, then you will need to hire someone.

So the choice is yours. But if you are going to run a business, then you are going to have to be a businessman / or woman first, coder second (actually, the coder part will be around 10th behind all the other essentials to running a business).

Planet13




msg:4293984
 3:09 am on Apr 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Also, any tips on de-sandboxing my newer forums would also be appreciated. Thanks in advance.


Are these forums that are already up? Or do you mean avoiding getting your soon to be created forum placed in the sandbox?

I don't think there is a google sandbox any more.

But there is probably some sort of increased sensitivity by google to new sites that go out and get lots of links right away.

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