The term “web forums” conjures-up visions of an outdated Internet. I remember the first time that I got “on line” it was done by dialing directly (by way of a 14.4 kbps modem) into an electronic bulletin board which was, essentially, a stand-alone forum.
But we’ve never really stopped using forums. At its core, Facebook is nothing but a forum with an improved graphical interface and many more bells and whistles. Blogs that offer the ability to comment often function like forums as the comments increase and cross-reference earlier comments. Traditional forums are more difficult to find than they were ten years ago but they continue to exist in many capacities.
Forums Are Useful for Three Reasons
While forums may be ostracized from the contemporary social media world, they are still in existence. And when you add a forum to your ecommerce site, it’s a useful marketing tool with three important purposes.
Increase Traffic to Your Site. Since the forum is presumably related to your site’s products, it could increase visits and page views by attracting folks interested in your industry.
Improve Revenue. It can help your bottom line by offering banner ads on it.
Helps with Search Engine Optimization, Too
Forums can also help with search engine optimization. Posts and conversations on a relevant forum often produce long-tail terms (relative to specific or detailed search queries, usually three or more words long), and search engines will likely pick them up. In fact, Google recently began recognizing and highlighting forum posts within its results, making it more likely that terms produced in conversational web forums will end up found by search engine users. And, you don’t have to do much work to generate this traffic; forums are a natural for user-generated content rich in long-tail search terms.
Common Sense vs. Sexiness
Web forums are not sexy. But ecommerce merchants should consider the benefits of forums, especially if advertising is part of your website’s revenue. Forum technology is simple and, essentially, free. Placing a forum on your ecommerce site can increase page views while augmenting your presence in the search engines for long-tail terms. Forums, in short, exchange sexiness for plain, common-sense functionality.