How do I get more people to join and post on my new forum?
June 29, 2006 7:19 AM   Subscribe

How do I get more people to join and post on my new forum?

I have recently created a forum. It has been up and running for under a week. We have some members, but only a few have posted.

Since it's brand new, I know it is going to take some time. I am aware that showing up on Google takes time also. I am curious about a couple things:

1. If you have created a forum, how long did it take to become active?

2. Is it a possibility that my website will never show up on Google? This statement from Google is discouraging: "We do not add all submitted URLs to our index, and we cannot make any predictions or guarantees about when or if they will appear."

Any other opinions or advice is welcome. Thanks!
posted by LoriFLA to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just a few ideas:

- If you post on other forums, have the link the link to your forum in all of your sigs.
- See about exchanging links with relevant sites.
- Start open-ended threads about topics that will get conversations started with the visitors you do have.
- Visit sites for webmasters like SitePoint to get ideas about how to optimize your site for search engines.
- Consider purchasing text links via Google Adsense or directly on sites that have a similar demographic to your site.
posted by tastybrains at 7:24 AM on June 29, 2006

have the link the link to your forum in all of your sigs.

Of course you would know to not even considering posting gratuitous links to your forum here on MetaFilter. Use your judgment regarding the standards of the relevant communities.
posted by grouse at 7:28 AM on June 29, 2006

For the record, I wasn't suggesting that she do that. In many forums (forums, not community blogs!) people have sigs with links to their sites & web projects. That would be appropriate.
posted by tastybrains at 7:33 AM on June 29, 2006

If you know people who could make good contributors, invite them!

Try to add content on a regular basis, even if nobody else is posting. If there's action on the site, people will have a reason to come back... and eventually they might start posting.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 7:35 AM on June 29, 2006

Oh, and definitely post links to it wherever appropriate. (mefi profile, email sig, other forum sigs... You can get a surprising amount of traffic if you're a good contributor and you do this.)
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 7:36 AM on June 29, 2006

You should set your expectations correctly too. I see the forum is for parents of your county in Florida. Of the 490,000 ppl in the county, how many are parents? Of that number, how many use the internet? How many of that number use the internet for anything besides reading the news or sending email?

Since your forum is sort of location based thing, what about advertising for it in the real world? Make some fliers and put them up at some local parks, libraries, malls, and other places where parents are likely to be with their children.
posted by poppo at 7:41 AM on June 29, 2006

Looking at the forum linked in your profile, another idea might be to print up some flyers/info cards and leave them on the tables of local pediatriacians' waiting rooms, the local libraries, etc. (with permission of course).
posted by mikepop at 7:43 AM on June 29, 2006

Annouce it on MetaFilter's Projects
posted by kirkaracha at 8:04 AM on June 29, 2006

Try to add content on a regular basis, even if nobody else is posting. If there's action on the site, people will have a reason to come back... and eventually they might start posting. - Tacos Are Pretty Great

Yes. Even MeFi started mostly with the site's creator posting links, he invited his friends, and it spiralled out from there.
posted by raedyn at 8:07 AM on June 29, 2006

Also, try not to divide the forum into too many subforums - I think you have 16! Having so many forums divides things up and means there's less chance of communities forming. How about merging all the subforums into 5 or 6 bigger subforums. At the moment, it's silly splitting everything up so much.
posted by matthewr at 8:43 AM on June 29, 2006

Is it a possibility that my website will never show up on Google?

It's possible but highly doubtful. Get your project onto Metafilters Projects as kirkaracha suggested. Get as many relevant sites to link to yours. This way Google will come across your site through more popular sites.

To get ranked well try this method: Say you want people to find you under "LoriFLA forums"

1. Page Title - Make sure it is "LoriFLA forums"

2. First thing on the page should be an h1 tag "Welcome to LoriFLA Forums"

3. In your intro put a link with the text "find out more about LoriFLA Forums". link that to an about us page.

So, after you have done that the content should be nicely weighted towards the keyword you think people will type in to find you. Don't be too general. If you are looking to get ranked under something like "Sex Talk" you have no chance!! If however you wanted to get ranked under "sex talk Florida", that would be easier.

Actually, just looking at your profile. is the site you are talking about that one? If so, it's very location specific. I'd concentrate on traditional marketing - flyers in local shops, send out press releases to the local papers announcing this cool new resource etc.

Good luck! starting a community site is never terribly easy.
posted by twistedonion at 8:48 AM on June 29, 2006

Definitely reduce the number of sub forums. 2 or 3 should be enough at first, once decent discussion starts to build up it will become obvious if additional sub forums are required for certain subjects.
posted by fire&wings at 9:42 AM on June 29, 2006

Seconding reducing the number of subforums. You can probably reduce it to one subforum for everything that's currently a category of forums. My forums started out as three forums: "announcements", "discussion", and "test" and that worked fine for us. Branches happened when there was a practical reason to do so.

One effect of that is that it looks like your forums are active. Right now all those single digit post counts makes it look like it's yet another flopped attempt at a forum. In other words, by having fewer forums, your forum looks like it is small because it is new instead of being small because it never took off.

(You could take this another step by making it really obvious on the forum index and homepage that it's new, too. Knowing that it's new gets people excited about participating.)

It probably couldn't hurt to make your "Register" link more obvious to users that aren't logged in, too.
posted by mendel at 9:55 AM on June 29, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all of the suggestions. My sister helped me with this website, and she too thought I had too many subforums. I think I will reduce them.

I appreciate all of the helpful advice and suggestions regarding goggle, advertising, and the actual site. Thanks again!
posted by LoriFLA at 3:29 PM on June 29, 2006

The only sites that google removes from its index are those that use black hat or otherwise disruptive SEO techniques. If you don't know what that means then you have nothing to worry about. Google's disclaimer is really only telling you that a listing in their index is a privilege not a right, but what it means in reality is that Google lists all sites that it finds and you really don't have to do anything at all yourself.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:30 PM on June 29, 2006

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