How to Write Forum Posts for Users and Search Engines
Forum Posting: Article Summary
This article discusses: The definition of a forum posts, how to write high quality forum posts, what requirements a forum post is expected to meet in order to be considered high quality, other common requirements for forum posts, how to write forum posts for search engines, and how to write forum posts to initiate discussions
What is a Forum Post?
If you're reading this article, then it's quite likely you already know what a forum post is. A discussion forum consists of content which is usually human edited. Forum content is largely contained within forum threads. Each forum thread is a continuous flow relating to one conversation between multiple contributors. A forum post is a single unit and this unit often contains text. When joined in with others post, the combination of units form a thread. Each unit / forum post is usually human added content, and its purpose is either to ask a question, answer a question or to contributes towards the forum discussion by expressing an opinion or bringing forth information.
How to Write High Quality Forum Posts
The term "High Quality" is very subjective when applied to forum posts. Many forum administrators would however agree that there are some requirements that a forum post must meet before it can be considered a high quality post. The top 5 quality forum post criteria are outlined below:
Minimum Requirements for a High Quality Forum Post
1) A forum post must be grammatically correct:
Before you submit your post, make sure your text is grammatically correct. Read you post thoroughly, marking a small pause after each comma and mentally expanding out any words abbreviated with an apostrophe. Forum posting should not be rushed, and it is best to take your time and double check the content to improve its overall quality.
2) Forum posts must be spell-checked:
It's easy to make a spelling mistake, especially if your forum post contains a large volume of content. One way to avoid spelling mistakes would be to check your forum posts with an automated spell-checker. However, using a third-party spell-checker can unnecessarily slow your forum posting down. Alternatively, you can make your life a lot easier by switching your browser to Google Chrome. Google Chrome has a built in automatic spell-checker to help you avoid spelling mistakes when typing forum posts.
3) A forum post must be relevant to the niche subject:
From an SEO perspective, there is very little point in writing forum posts on general subjects for a niche forum. Forum posts on non-related or general subjects will gain very little (if any) organic traffic from search engines. Before creating a new thread, do some research on the forum's niche subject, and look for gaps in the thread titles. Try to find any new 'hot' topics for the Forum Niche, anything that is new relevant and very likely to be debated can gain a lot of interest.
4) A forum post should be well-written:
Once you know what you want to write about, try to plan your post around a few bullet points. Avoid writing the post in one go; instead try and give your post a good structure. It will make it easier for the readers to follow your train of thought and increase the likelihood that other forum posters will want to contribute
5) A forum post should be interesting:
Try to avoid repeating subjects that have already been discussed, and try instead to find new topics: controversial topics with controversial thread titles are far more likely to be discussed than old topics. Do your own research and find novel ideas. To capture the readers' interest, try to approach discussions from a new and fresh perspective.
Specific Requirements for a High Quality Forum Post
If you are writing posts for a forum owner / forum admin (either as a paid poster, or as a post exchanger), then you are probably writing content for their forum for one of three reasons.
i) You are writing forum posts for search engines to crawl or to gain link bait
ii) You are writing forum posts to initiate / increase activity on the forum
iii) You are writing forum posts to answer questions that the no one has answered.
If a forum does not contain high quality forum posts aimed towards attracting organic traffic, then there is very little point in trying to fake activity, or paying someone to post answers to every question that remains open. If the forum does not have a continuous flow of natural organic traffic to continue activity and ask/answer future questions, the forum is doomed to fail right from the start. However, if the forum is continuously gaining a substantial amount of organic traffic, then there should be little need to write forum posts to initiate discussions, or answer opened questions, since at this point the Quality Posters job is done.
However, if the forum has little quality content and the owner suggests faking activity, or answering open questions, you could encourage them to seek search engines-friendly forum posts instead as a long-term strategy. Feel free to point them to this article if they need clarification as to why they should do this.
How to Write High Quality Forum Posts for Search Engines
If you intend to be a Quality Poster, I would recommend concentrating on writing forum posts that are relevant to the forum's niche subject and which will therefore improve the forum's Search Engines Results Page (SERPs). In order to do this, you will need to understand some basic Search Engine Optimization techniques. You will need to become familiar with the following concepts: keyword/phrase frequency, the importance of headers and the importance of keywords in titles, text size and bolding, time stamps, and how synonyms can be used to improve SERPs and forum post readability.
1. Research Keywords / Phrases for your Forum Posts.
You may think you know all the relevant words and phrases to use in order to optimize your post. But more often than not, you would be surprised by the sheer number of synonymic - and sometimes more popular - keywords and phrases relating to your subject. Before you start forum posting and optimizing your content, you will need to do some initial research and decide what the keywords should be. If you wish to gain maximum organic search engine traffic for your forum post, you will need to choose keywords and phrases that are the most relevant to the topic but are also frequently searched.
If the forum contains very little quality content, it is best, when creating your first set of forum posts, to start by using less competitive phrases which will gain traffic from tail off keywords. As more quality content is added to the forum, you can start writing forum post containing more competitive keywords so that the forum reaches its potential, gaining maximum organic traffic from your forum posts.
You can use the following tools to find the frequency of related search keywords and key-phrases: Google AdWords, Keywords Discovery, and Wordtracker
2. Research the Synonyms of the Keywords and Phrases
Once you have a list of popular and relevant keywords for your post, you will need to make sure they frequently appear in your content. However, do not randomly stuff your forum post with keywords! Keywords-stuffing can not only make a post unreadable, but it quickly gets flagged as potential spam by search engines. Instead of keyword-stuffing, try to make the pst readable and use keywords and phrases as synonyms, adding them to your post following a ratio similar to what occurs naturally across the internet.
To find the synonyms of your keywords, you can use a manual thesaurus or an online alternative. Once you have a list or key words and phrases, use a search engine and search for the relative frequency of each phrase combination. Once you know the natural frequency for each synonym, you can try to create your forum post with a similar frequency, while making sure it's still enjoyable to read and understandable.
3. Make Use of Headers, Titles, Text Size and Bolding in Your Forum Post
Page tittles, header tags, larger text sizes, and bolding text are an effective way to communicate to the search engines which keywords and phrases are relevant to your content and what your page is about. These properties convey the importance of the text - not only to search engines, but to readers too.
Header tags should be used in the following way:
<h1> The Theme of The Thread </h1>
<h2> Sub Section of h1 </h2>
<h3> Sub Section of h2 </h3>
CSS will then style the text in a particular way, giving the text its color, size and font style.
Within many forums, some of these options wont be applicable. Header tags are rarely an option when adding a forum post. It should however be possible to add a title to your post. If you create a new thread with your forum post, you can use a title that contains the keywords or phrases that you have found to be relevant, and make the title catchy to users. It can be a good idea to structure the title of your forum post as a question or an answer, since people will often use a Question and Answer format when launching a query via search engines - and thus finding direct results on forums.
When structuring your post, make sure that the most important heading stands out in large text and use relatively smaller text for sub-heading. Make the post colorful and attractive to users. The size limits of posts are often very large, if you're intending on using a large amount of content, make sure your forum post is well laid-out and easy to read. Make the important parts stand out, so even if the user skims over your posts they can pick up the general concept.
Do not hesitate to style the text in bold when you want to emphasize a particular point (you can also play with the color of the text). This not only focuses the readers' attention on the important parts of your post, but it may also attract search engines to capture the same words.
Summary: use a well thought-out title for the thread, style your post content, emphasize important parts of your forum post in bold, and make the headings and subheadings of your post larger than the rest of the text.
4. Submit Posts with a Large Amount of Content
Put simply, the more content you post, the more content is available for search engines to crawl. Your posted content is more likely to be considered a reputable source if it contains a lot of information. As a consequence, the more content you can add to your forum posts, means potentially increasing the SERP results for your keywords and phrases.
If you start writing a post as a thread starter, try to turn it into a small article. Make the article debatable, include factual points, and make it interesting. Make sure you have included many synonyms of the relevant keywords for the forum, and that you have used these synonyms in their natural ratio.
Since search engines do not solely look at individual forum posts, but crawl an entire page, try to make sure the entire first page of a given thread contains a large volume of content. If you can, make sure that every post on the first page of a given thread contains more than 1500 characters. It's not always possible to avoid spammers or low quality forum posters interrupting your threads, but if the forum admin has an understanding of your goal before you start forum posting, they might come to your aid and remove spam posts for you.
At the time of writing this, if the forum posts are automatically reviewed by Quality Posts, the optimum number of characters per post that will grant maximum points is 1600 characters. This ensures that the forum posters aim towards creating large volumes of content when using the Quality Posts system
5. Forum Post Time Stamps
Time stamps are increasingly important to search engines. With most forums you'll find that every time you make a forum post, the post has a time stamp associated with it, this tell users the date, month, year and time of day that the post was submitted to the forum. This time stamp is usually at the top right hand side of the post.
The internet contains vast amounts of data, and when a user searches for answers to a query, he or she is likely to want the most recent/modern answer. When two or more resources offer similar relevance and are ranked with similar importance, the most recent answer is usually preferable, since older answers may have become irrelevant.
This should be taken into consideration when creating forum posts. If you find posts dating back to a few years, and you know that the answers have long since changed and that no recent update has been posted, it might be worth creating a new thread with a recent time stamp which contains the newest relevant information. Avoid duplicating content, and never copy other threads, but simply write original content with the most up-to-date information.
6. Link to Your Forum Posts and Threads
If you see posts asking questions that you have previously answered, you can simply reply by giving a summary of your answer and a link to the post where you previously answered in full. But it is best to avoid posting links without content, as readers may not click through to the linked page. Submitting a post with just a link and a very small amount of text at best can often look very similar to spam. As a Quality Poster, the very last thing that you want to do is make your posts look anything like spam. So, it's always a good idea to make a fairly comprehensive summary before giving the link to your original forum post.
When creating a link, it is best to use anchor text containing the keywords and phases which will help users and also help search engines to find the page. For example, avoid linking the word "here" in statements such as: "the answer can be found HERE". Instead, try to link a entire phrase or keywords that is relevant to the topic. For example, if I wanted to point someone to this post, the following are the phrases I would use as link:
- How to Write Forum Posts for Search Engines
- Writing Posts for Forums
- Forum Posts
- Forum Posting
- How to Write Quality Forum Posts
Or other keywords and phrases that are highly relevant and likely to be used in a query on a search engine.
In order to link anchor text using forum software you can usually use a wysiwyg editor, or paste the following into your forum post:
[url=http://www.qualityposts.com/ForumPosts.php]How To Write Quality Forum Posts[/url]
[url="http://www.qualityposts.com/ForumPosts.php"]How To Write Forum Posts For Search Engines[/url]
By adding links to your posts/threads using relevant anchor text, not only will you help users understand what the post / thread is about, but you will also help improve search engines results.