One of the age-old tips for publicizing a blog is forum linking. You've probably even seen me give that advice on this blog. For those of you that don't know what forum linking's all about, here is what bloggers usually say on the subject:
Go to forums that are about your blog's topic and answer questions that you find there. If one of your blog posts can answer someone's question, link to it in your reply. This not only brings you traffic, it also makes you an expert on the topic.
I haven't done this type of marketing in a long while, so I decided to test it to make sure I'm giving my readers relevant information. Here's what I found out.
For my test, I decided to choose forums and groups where I have been a member for a long time. I know the rules of the forums and have posted blog links there before with no problems. I also know what other people on those forums have gotten away with. So, all-in-all, I felt I knew what kind of posts would get deleted and which ones wouldn't.
Forum Linking Test #1
For my first test, I wanted to dip my toe into forum linking, but didn't want to go all-in. So, I went over to the Digital Point forum and posted a link to someone else's blog and casually mentioned that I was featured in the post. I also gave some helpful advice to go along with the link.
People replied to the post. Things were great. After a month with no negative feedback, I thought that the post was in the clear...until I received this alert:
Forum Linking Test #2
Before I got that alert, I decided to link to my own post. I created a new thread on Digital Point, Warrior Forum and in two copywriting groups on Facebook. Go big or go home, am I right?
The forum post was about how I often write blog posts recommending articles by other people. I encouraged other copywriters to link to their latest articles in the comments of my post so that they could get more views. (Yes, I am giving you permission to put links to your stuff in the comments. Go crazy.)
I thought it was pretty harmless since inviting people to link in the comments doesn't get me anything other than page views. I wasn't selling anything on that page. If anything, links to off-topic sites might get me an SEO penalty from Google. (The jury is still out about whether links in comments hurts or helps you, so I figured what the heck.)
Well, no body took me up on the offer except for two people. My post did get a lot of views for a couple of days, though. In fact, on the second day my page views for the whole site doubled. So I guess you could say the experiment was a success.
[bctt tweet="In fact, on the second day my page views for the whole site doubled. "]
The question is, was I hand slapped for being "spammy"?
Yes. Yes, I was.
A Warrior Forum mod sent me this little note:
Greetings from the WarriorForum Team.
This is inform you that we have removed a thread you created in the Copywriting section of the forum.
Self-promotional advertisements are absolutely prohibited in this section. Please refrain from doing so to avoid disciplinary action.
You may help out people without the need of linking your own blog or copy pasting the content from your blog to the forum.
Please let us know if you have any further questions.
Take a look at the part I bolded. What he's saying is any link to your blog is prohibited. By the way, I didn't copy and paste anything, so I'm not sure what he's talking about there. Hmm...
Digital Point also deleted my post, but didn't send me a note or alert that it was deleted. I know they don't have a policy against linking (that I know of), so I have no idea why both of my posts were considered spammy. Both Warrior Forum and Digital Point have tons and tons of spam and a lot of the spam is by the owners of the forum themselves. Go figure.
The Facebook groups didn't seem to care that I posted a link to my blog. In fact, the only two people to post links on my post were from one of the Facebook groups.
I've found that many Facebook groups have promotion days where you are allowed to link to your products or blog. Be sure to check the group rules or ask the admins.
I guess the lesson here is, yes, forum linking does get you page views, but you need to be very careful where you do it. Check the forum rules to be sure linking is okay. If not, put a link in your signature to your site, if the forum allows it.
Also, just because others get away with posting links to their own site, don't assume you will get away with it. The whole process makes me super uncomfortable and made me realize why I don't do it anymore.
Facebook groups is a whole other story. I take full advantage of promotion days and have ended up getting a lot of traffic from them.