Crowd marketing is one of the most overlooked link building tactics that give you a competitive advantage in Google search rankings. It is generally referred to as forum marketing or community marketing as the links come from there only.
Today only 2% of marketers are using crowd marketing to rank higher on Google. Therefore, you can leverage this window of opportunity to gain a competitive edge.
This blog discusses why crowd marketing is still useful as a link building strategy today, what best practices you should implement, and things to keep in mind.
Let’s dive in.
How Can Crowd Marketing Benefit Your SEO Strategy
Today, you can easily find thousands of forums relevant to your niche that enjoy a massive number of visitors and excellent metrics. Besides the sheer SEO benefits, crowd marketing also provides us with indirect advantages. Here are some of the benefits:
- A more substantial and diverse backlink profile: Backlinks from relevant niche-specific forums can bolster and expand your backlink profile. And consequently, you will be able to acquire a higher-ranking position on Google SERPs.
- More views mean more brand awareness: It will help you turn a lot of eyeballs towards your website, which is excellent for boosting your brand awareness.
- A rise in site traffic and prospects: Being interested in targeting very particular online communities, you can hope to see a massive influx of traffic to your site and perhaps more leads, prospective customers, and conversions.
As we also stated above, this link building tactic has been widely overlooked, and this is actually good! It means you have an incredible opportunity to cash in on it and perhaps outdo the competition.
Types of Crowd Marketing
There are heaps of sources that could be suitable to carry out digital community marketing campaigns. Some of these sources are:
- Comments Section of Blogs: This one is a massively overused and not an efficient way of building backlinks anymore. The reason is simply that the comments section of most blogs is not well regulated, which means it is open for spammers, and that isn’t what we are seeking.
- Social Media and Q&A Sites: Once more, this is perhaps useful for increasing brand awareness but not so much for improving SEO. The reason is again the same – moderation is low, and the fact that backlinks from these platforms don’t really build up a backlink profile’s authority.
- Forums/Communities: Bingo, we just arrived at our optimum point! There are loads of forums relevant for each niche, with a significant inflow of actual human visitors and a high priority given to moderation and useful content. Now that is something we are seeking as backlinks from such sources can give your website a significant boost in the search results.
Best Practices for Forum Link Building
- Look Up Niche-Relevant Forums
Context is the leader, and this stands true for link building too. Be sure to conduct thorough research and only pick out those particular communities that discuss your niche-relevant topics.
Check out these few tips that you might find helpful along the way:
- Stay away from the supposed “hello threads” where users simply greet one another and literally talk about everything and anything. These are worthless for SEO objectives.
- Look up niche-relevant forums. Let’s suppose you run a restaurant business; in this case, you should only look up resources that discuss food and restaurants.
- Remember, there is a finite number of sites that are relevant to your business. However, this is no reason to get upset because you can also spot threads relevant to your niche on common forums. For instance, let’s say you own a cafe shop; in this case, you can look up specific threads about beverages on Food forums.
- If you discover any local sites, that’s a bonus point. If you run a local business and you luckily encounter an online community within your service area, that is even better as it gives you an added advantage for link building purposes.
- Consider the Volume of Traffic
Ideally, you should target highly sought-after sites that enjoy a good inflow of actual human traffic. Websites receiving a massive number of visitors and user engagement are regarded as reliable by Google. Such websites are also capable of placing your business right before your target audience.
In order to assess the total volume of traffic a site receives, you can utilize tools available in the market. While there is no right or wrong here, it is recommended to seek forums that at least acquire 30,000 visitors every month. If a forum is not receiving a fair amount of traffic, it is considered a wrong signal as it might be an indication that the forum is not active anymore or has turned into a “spammers’ hub” without any actual human visitors.
- Check the Metrics
While determining whether or not a particular forum will help your backlink generation campaign, be sure to scrutinize the website’s metrics. Here are a few metrics that you should bear in mind while doing so:
- Domain Authority/Domain Rating: This demonstrates the overall power of a domain. The higher this figure, the better it is. Try to consider sites that have a 50+ DA.
- Trust Flow: This metric is based on the website’s reliability, based on its referring domains’ quality. For instance, backlinks from educational sites or Wikipedia would carry much higher ranking clout than incoming backlinks from social networks.
- Citation Flow: This metric is based on the amount of referring domains. While this figure helps determine the popularity or virality of the web page, it doesn’t tell much about the information quality.
- Page Authority/URL Rating: This metric is measured just like we calculate Domain Authority (DA); the only difference is it is limited to a particular web page. It proves useful when you are examining a specific forum thread as it is an individual web page (thus an individual URL).
- Verify Whether a Forum is Correctly Moderated
In this case, moderation means the degree to which the admins review and remove the forum content and how much they tolerate self-promotion or even spam.
Even though you can utilize specific tools to evaluate the “spam score” of a particular site, it is always better to stick to your perception. All you need to do is take out some time and scan through the forum, see what the people are posting and discussing.
If you notice heaps of duplicate comments containing the same promotion, links, or poor phrasing, this might indicate that the forum isn’t well moderated and therefore includes too much spam. Take this as an apparent “No-Go” sign because incoming links from those sites are destructive and will be more harmful than helpful for your site’s SEO in the long term.
On the contrary, forums that have aggressive moderation won’t even allow you to put any links in the first place, regardless if it fits the context and discussion or not. In a nutshell, it is favorable to go with medium moderation forums as it means only relevant links can be added.
Time for Action: Crafting Solid Forum Replies
By now, you have become familiar with all the steps you need to take in order to choose proper sites for link building. However, without the knowledge of using them appropriately, you can’t master the skill of crowd marketing.
This brings us to the dos and don’ts of writing solid forum replies with a backlink to your site.
- Use appropriate language, grammar, and idioms (wherever applicable). There’s a reason why the term “crowd” is used here. If your target community is using a particular terminology, then you should use it too. Proofread your comments thoroughly and scan them for any grammar goofs.
- Examine the discussion properly before you post anything. Your comment needs to adapt to the rest of the thread flawlessly. Read the replies from the other people to understand the topic well.
- Link back to your website naturally. Once you have crafted a solid comment, leverage this opportunity to add a backlink to your website in a natural way. Use proper link labels and do not even consider to do clickbait or compel users to visit your site forcefully.
- Never try to hide your backlink. This will be regarded as a black hat SEO tactic and will be penalized by the forum admins or even by Google if you use it extravagantly.
- Do not use software for mass posting comments. This tactic no longer works and will probably reward you with a Google penalty.
- Do not copy-paste the exact answer template with your link. Context surrounding the link matters, so ensure that it is unique and logical.
Forum Links: Dofollow or Nofollow?
One of the most widespread SEO misconceptions you will encounter is probably that “Nofollow links are worthless.” If truth be told, having a natural combination of “dofollow” and “nofollow” links is hugely profitable.
It is already a proven fact that Google considers “nofollow” as an indication that can possibly lead to higher SEO rankings based on the context, link label, and the referring domain. For instance, everybody asserts that Wikipedia backlinks are extremely beneficial even though they are always “nofollow” links.
If you observe that all links posted in a specific forum contain a ‘nofollow’ tag, that is no reason to give up as they may still be useful for your SEO ranking. Besides that, people click on the links no matter their tags; therefore, tags do not play any role when it comes to traffic generation. Just make sure that not all of your backlinks contain “nofollow” tags because this too does not send the right hint to Google.
Is Crowd Marketing Black Hat or White Hat?
This link building tactic is wholly organic and white hat provided that you utilize it correctly. Basically, any SEO technique can become a black hat when abused.
For instance, this stands true for guest posting too. If you honestly approach site owners or publishers, offer engaging content, and leverage the opportunity for building a couple of backlinks – it is excellent and will never result in any kind of penalty.
On the other hand, if you are developing a blog network merely for link-building purposes (like Private Blog Networks or PBNs), it will be perceived as a black hat tactic and won’t go ignored.
Now, the same logic is applicable here as well. If you are crafting honest and useful replies that help the community and contains backlinks to your site, then you have got it right. A properly executed crowd marketing campaign isn’t based on volumes (or spam); here, quality still remains the key.
Do not even consider playing Google and using automated software or spamming throughout the night. That is entirely a black hat scheme and will surely get you a Google penalty.
Having said that all, one thing is sure that crowd marketing is a time-consuming strategy but an effective one – once you get it right, the results are worth all the effort. However, it looks like there are a lot of things that you need to bear in mind when setting up a crowd marketing campaign that is sure to get successful. Let’s summarize the crucial points:
- Conduct lots of thorough research to identify niche-relevant forums and communities.
- Be sure to analyze their traffic, metrics, and moderation level.
- You need to create an account for each forum. Most of the time, you will also need to build some reputation before you post any links or anything else.
- Sometimes, you may be required to pay a membership fee in order to join the particular digital community.
- Look up niche-specific forum threads and create useful replies for each one of them.
As you must have figured out by now, crowd marketing is no child’s play, and it needs a great deal of time, resources, and dedication. This is the reason most often; website owners choose to outsource an agency to do this link-building task on their behalf. While nobody is stopping you from doing this on your own, you might find things getting tougher on a large scale.
Whatever you decide to do, just don’t end up falling victim to the dubious backlink providers or freelancers offering to do the job for a surprisingly low fee. You have seen it yourself; getting it right isn’t easy at all; hence, if someone is willing to do it for cheap, that usually implies that they are using software for mass posting or have put in zero effort for research. Both these will weaken your honest SEO efforts.
That was all you needed to know about this rarely used but super effective link building tactic for higher Google rankings. So go ahead – implement the best practices and keep in mind the dos and don’ts along the way.
Happy link building!