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  • Top ten ways to make your forum community stand out.

    Here is a little article I put together for the fellow forum owners. Hope I didn't put this in the wrong forum, I tend to do that lately.

    Top ten ways to make your forum community stand out.
    By: Matt Price (Complete vB)

    1. Research and discover your forum’s niche.
    2. Target a specific member base and user groups.
    3. Create or obtain a unique vBulletin theme.
    4. Make a good first impression.
    5. Link-build with similar content related forums.
    6. Optimize your forum pages to be search engine friendly.
    7. Add incentives for your members.
    8. Create room for personalization and customization.
    9. Promote it to anyone and everyone. Word of mouth is huge.
    10. Start slow and work your way up. Don’t get in to deep.


    1. Research and discover your niche.

    Everybody has a certain passion and advanced knowledge in one category on the web or another. Search deep inside yourself to figure out what you think would succeed as a popular forum. However, your first thought is usually just like everyone else’s. Try to avoid the “John Doe” ideas that everyone and anyone has already thought of. Chances are there are a couple hundreds of forums on that topic already and it will be extremely difficult to compete with the previously established forums.

    Aim your sights on a much smaller or hidden niche that has not yet been discovered or developed. (i.e. “vBulletin hacks”, rather than “Web design”) Targeting a more specific topic allows room for search engine placement potential and an easily target-able member base.

    Once you find that industry niche, go at it 100%. I see hundreds of new forums fail and give up in the first few months because the owner doesn’t dedicate enough time to it. Put in the work and be patient, you will get results.

    2. Target a specific member base and user groups.

    Take the time to research other forums or websites that you think your potential members would hang out. A key to finding the perfect source is to search Google, MSN, Yahoo, and other search engines for the keywords you plan on targeting. These same relevant internet websites and forums provide the best source for advertisements and partnerships.

    Since the big guy (Google) looks for relevant content between links you will be noticed faster. For example, don’t advertise a sports forum on a printer repair website. However, Google does seem to be caring less and less for relevancy and more for real content text links.

    3. Create or obtain a unique vBulletin theme.

    Every forum owner should have a goal that his/her site can stand out from the rest of the forums in his/her niche. One step to accomplishing your own identity and recognizable skin is through downloading pre-made vBulletin skins (for example: vBulletin Skins, vBulletin Themes, vBulletin Styles, and vBulletin templates) and other resources. Having your own identity is a great way to make your members feel like they are apart of more than something than just another forum.

    Creating an atmosphere where your members feel at home may be the most important secret to keeping your members active and your forum growing.

    4. Make a good first impression.

    Everyone knows the first impression could be the make or break it on keeping a member at first glance. Like I just talked about, custom and pre-made skins are just one way to making that first impression better. On top of downloading pre-made skins, forum owners can establish easy navigation, interesting content, and try to portray an active community. Keeping that first members impression positive could make the difference of a popular forum or a suffering one.

    Do NOT try to trick your members by changing the refresh rate on the active member list. Most forum junkies nowadays know about this trick and will look down upon the forum. You definitely do not want to jeopardize your reputation over a few extra members. If your site is new, I suggest throwing a forum contest for the best poster. Not only will it increase activeness, but it will gain trust in your site.


    5. Link-build with similar content related forums.

    Anyone in the SEO world will tell you that link building is the key ingredient to search engine optimization, and they are correct. Building back links pointing toward your website or forum is essential for search engines to not only find your site, but rank it well.

    This goes for all websites, not just forums. I have found that one way text links hold much more PR juice than a reciprocal link. There are more resources for site owners than just paying off other popular sites for one-way links. You can create articles and submit them to sites for free for quick and good publicity.

    6. Optimize your forum pages to be search engine friendly.


    However, vBulletin and other forum software’s make this a bit more difficult than a regular website. There are sites that have already come out with products to help all of the forum owners out there with SEO, such as vBulletin SEO Forums. These sites do most of the simple things for you, and are worth the small investment.

    Like I said before, I highly recommend finding related material on similar content websites and forums. Not only will the search engines appreciate it, but you will receive more targeted traffic than on a non-topic website.

    7. Add incentives for your members.

    We all know that forums can die down and lose interest during the year. Member incentives are very important for keeping your member base interested and active. Some incentives that you can do with your members are:
    - Throw a forum-wide contest.
    - Offer rewards for posters that accomplish a certain amount of posts.
    - Establish a point/rating system.

    8. Create room for personalization and customization.

    I personally believe that all members should have their own chance to play with the styles that an admin has on their forum. Having a wide variety of styles has its’ perks and its downfalls. Some of the good things about offering a wide variety of vBulletin skins are that members get their own choice. Some members may want a graphically enhanced design while others are just looking for a quick loading skin. The biggest downfall I notice when administrators do this is the lack of identity that is established. One style on a forum is much more easily recognizable and brand able than a bunch of random skins thrown together.

    There are plenty of skins you can download no matter what forum software you use. Free ones or paid ones alike, they will allow your forum to stand out from the rest of the competition and give your members something to remember.

    9. Promote it to anyone and everyone. Word of mouth is huge.

    Tell everyone about your new forum. Who knows! Somebody you tell may know tons of people in that niche that have been waiting for such a site to come out. I suggest joining relative-content forums and becoming an active member with a signature link. I do not suggest spamming other forums just to get your link out there because you will give off the completely wrong impression.

    Word of mouth advertising is by far the best way of advertising. It is free and beneficial. It is hard to get people to talk about your new site so I would suggest doing something new, something fresh. Create something that will make people buzz.

    10. Start slow and work your way up. Don’t get in to deep.

    Everyone has heard of the statement, “Slow and steady wins the race.” With forum ownership, this statement couldn’t be truer. I suggest starting with a site you can handle and building it up slowly. At the same time, you need to take the initiative and take risks. Spend some cash on targeted advertising and try to sponsor sites relative to yours.

    Please don’t dump tons of cash into your forum thinking it will grow right away and lose your entire investment. Make long term goals and stick to them. Spread out the advertising and promotion tactics so that you don’t leave all your eggs in one basket.

    We all want a big forum that’s activeness is outstanding and the member base is continuously growing. Follow the simple steps I listed here and you should be on a great start to becoming a vBulletin administrator and entrepreneur.

    Thanks and I hope this all helps!
    Matt Price
    www.completevb.com

  • #2
    Nice article, Matt. Also, nice site too! I registered over there.
    The Relationship Forum
    The Relationship Forum is the best online forum for getting advice and help about romantic and non-romantic relationships, dating and marriage advice, and love.

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    • #3
      Love the read. Love the skins you have for sale on your site, think I might buy one when I have a board, (Doing some other sites at the mo)

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      • #4
        Nice article, and nice website.

        btw, check the hover & visited links colors in BlueDemon style for navbars in top & bottom.
        $post[signature]

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        • #5
          Thanks guys. Really appreciate the support. Starting a new sites hard!

          We will be releasing new articles and skins weekly.

          Thanks for the link suggestion Maz. I noticed that but haven't gotten around to it. :P

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          • #6
            Love to read, good article. thanks!

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            • #7
              This suggests like a successful forum is just a case of management. It is not. The key is to start of with something that you like yourself. If it's able to keep your mates hooked, make it into something for you and your mates. If that catches on, then start thinking about pleasing others. Some people want to start a forum just because the want to have some big board, which really isn't a good enough reason to start one.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Jan Klerks View Post
                The key is to start of with something that you like yourself.
                Totally agree with ur opinions. Fistly u like ur forum topic.

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                • #9
                  Nice informative article. Thanx for sharing with us
                  Website Hosting | VPS Hosting | Dedicated Hosting
                  Email & MSN: [email protected]

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                  • #10
                    There are more on my site. I would post them here but I am afraid the staff would tell me to not do that...

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                    • #11
                      Good read. I'm struggling to find a topic to launch a new forum. I already run a community for students, but my board has taken off by itself and thus I want to start another one. I just don't know what type of forum to launch.

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                      • #12
                        Thanks for the tips.

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