The world of link building can get confusing, with so many different types of links you can build: nofollow and dofollow, editorial, backlink exchanges, and many others. One of the most common types of links that you can run into online is forum backlinks.
Let’s find out if forum backlinks are any good for SEO and if you should pursue them or not.
What are forum backlinks?
Forum backlinks are links that come from posts on public forums. When someone makes a comment or starts a thread, they can add a backlink to your website in that post. Presumably, this forum posting can result in a new backlink and SEO juice to your website.
Forums are public online discussion websites where anyone can sign up and make an account and start posting. There are many different types of forum sites, from broad ones to niche ones dedicated to a highly specialized topic.
Why forum backlinks are not good for SEO efforts
When they occur naturally on their own, forum backlinks can be an okay addition to your digital marketing efforts. If someone mentions you because they find your content valuable, that’s great news.
The problem is, that anyone can create an account on a forum and start posting links. And if anyone can get a backlink, that makes that backlink pretty low in value. In fact, Google themselves have said on multiple occasions that these links have very little meaning in terms of SEO.
On top of all of that, most forum links are no-follow. This means that search engines are given instructions by default to ignore them. As a result, they don’t contribute much and don’t pass the link juice from the forum website to your web page.
PS. An easy way to check if a link is dofollow or nofollow is to use the NoFollow plugin for Google Chrome.
In many ways, links from forums (even those with high domain authority) are regarded in the same way as links from social media.
In short, these are not high authority backlinks.
Some benefits of forum backlinks
These are definitely not high-quality backlinks, but they can be somewhat useful.
Backlinks on forums can get you highly targeted traffic when done right. When someone posts a link to your website on a discussion board and recommends your content contextually, there is a chance that the post will drive some website traffic.
These links can also be beneficial for brand building. As more people are exposed to your content (especially in more niche forums), they are more likely to notice your business and head to a page on your website. For example, you can research your competitor backlinks – if a lot of them come from forums, replicating this strategy might make sense, however not for SEO reasons.
For example, Starter Story grew into a 7 figure business that launched largely due to promotion on Reddit forums.
So, what is the biggest problem with forum backlinks?
If you outsource building backlinks to an agency or a freelancer, they could submit forum backlinks as legitimate links, effectively trying to fool you. They contribute very little to your backlink profile and there are little to no SEO benefits from them. Other strategies such as link insertions, backlink exchanges, guest posting, and HARO can bring more meaningful results.
However, if you’re doing guerrilla marketing for brand awareness and trying out new link-building strategies, then yes, forum link building could be a great starting point.
How to build forum backlinks
If you’re okay with not getting do-follow links and you realize Google’s algorithm does not recognize these links as valuable, you can get links from forums. Here is how to do it, step by step.
Find relevant forums
The keyword here is relevant. There are millions of forums out in the world and many of them with general topics such as lifestyle and self-help. Instead of going broad, focus on forums that are relevant to your niche and target audience.
You can ask your customers about the communities where they spend their time. Alternatively, you can do a simple Google search for niche + forum. Once you’ve shortlisted your forums, do a bit of digging to find more information.
You want to find out:
- How much traffic the forum gets
- How many members it has
- How many active posts there are per day
- Whether promotional activities are frowned upon (and they are in most cases)
You can then move on to the next step.
Get familiar with the forum rules
If everyone could come in and start posting links to their website, most online forums would be filled with irrelevant, spammy content. Find out what the rules are in terms of posting external links and promoting your own services and products.
Every quality forum will have strict rules; breaking them is a surefire way to get banned early in your link building process.
You’re probably going to have to provide value with your content first before being allowed to promote your own business and add links. And that is going to take time.
Most of the time, you could wait for days or weeks to add links from the forum to your website. At that point, it becomes a lot of work for a bunch of nofollow links that don’t do much for your link profile.
Start adding links
Just spamming your landing pages all over a forum is not going to provide meaningful results. Instead, add links to forums strategically.
For example, if someone is asking around for the best vertical juicers, you can safely add a link to your own product. But if someone is wondering about the healthiest fruit they can buy for a cold, it’s probably not a good time to pitch a juicer as a solution to their problem.
Remember that your main aim is to help. Don’t dig up topics from 2017 in order to add your links. Instead, follow the trending topics and help out when it makes sense.
It goes without saying that you should not participate in a forum just to post links (or leave them in your forum signature). If administrators notice that all of your posts are simply links to your website, they are very likely to ban you.
Start exploring Reddit and Quora
As you can see by this point, building forum links is very time-intensive and offers little to no return on investment. And over time, forums as a medium have been declining in popularity and most people nowadays build communities elsewhere.
Two websites that are worth looking into are Reddit and Quora. These are vivid communities that have millions of active users on a monthly basis and participating in them in 2023 makes more sense than looking for forums.
When it comes to Quora, the rules are a bit more lax, and you can promote yourself and add links as long as you’re not doing it to the point where the moderators notice it. When you find relevant questions on this platform, you can easily get more organic traffic back to your website.
On the other hand, Reddit is very strict about promotional activities. If a moderator catches you attempting to promote your business (even without adding links), you’ll be banned very quickly.
However, being active on these platforms (and in the right communities) can bring long-term wins for your brand that go beyond building links.
Are forum backlinks worth it?
Building links from forum discussions is certainly not a black hat strategy and won’t damage your search engine optimization efforts, as long as you’re not spamming anyone. However, legitimate backlinks from real websites will do much more for your SEO strategy and the search engine rankings of your website.
If you want real SEO results, you’re going to need real links. And with that, we can help. Reach out to us today to find out how we can help!