Forum marketing might be the most underutilized traffic generation strategy on the planet.

Industry forums are a watering hole of potential leads and customers.

However, simply creating a signature and leaving generic posts isn’t going to get you a tidal wave of traffic. This guide will show you how you can drive targeted traffic to your site using forum marketing.

Step 1 – Find Forums That in Your Niche

The first thing you need to do is look for active forums in your industry. To do this, enter a search string into Google that’s “[your keyword]” + forum.

Screenshot of Google's search results for the term "gardening" forum
Use Google as a quick and easy way to find forums in your niche.

Depending on your niche, sometimes this search string works really well, sometimes not so much. This one obviously will bring up a ton of forum results.

You could also add “Powered by vBulletin” to your search term. That’s because vBulletin is a popular forum software that people use to create and manage forums.

This is a very common search string that you can use to find tons and tons of forums in almost any niche.

Step 2 – Get Specific

If the first step isn’t bringing you enough results or you just want more, there’s another trick you can use to find more forums.

Put in a niche-specific keyword. Think of something that only people in your niche would probably searching for.

For example, let’s say you’re a developer and you’re looking for a technical forum.

You don’t want to search something basic, like “CSS” or “HTML. “

Instead, enter something very specific—like “GitHub glitch” forum.

Screenshot of Google search results for the term "github glitch" forum
Get specific to find forums that are even more relevant to your niche.

This is more likely to yield results from other developers who are active on discussion threads.

Step 3 – Assess the Forum’s Quality

Once you’ve found a forum, you want to see if it’s even worth your time.

The first thing you want to do is look at the latest post info and look at when the last post was posted. Basically, what you’re doing is seeing how often people are posting on this site and how active it is, because there is no way to see how many active users there are, so this is a proxy way to do that.

Under posted you want to look at the date and in that case that is yesterday, so that’s pretty recent. This is also from yesterday, which is pretty recent. As long as you see that, it’s probably worth making an account.

Step 4 – Create an Account

Your next step is to register.

This step will look a little different for every site. But basically, you just need to find wherever it says register, and click that button. Here’s what that looks like on Quora.

Screenshot of Quora's login and registration page
Creating an account on a forum typically takes less than 30 seconds.

Then, you want to fill out the user name or screen name, depending on how they phrase it on that particular forum, very carefully. You want to make it your brand name or your personal name.

We’d make ours “Quick Sprout.”

Ideally, you’d put your brand name or your site name as your username.

That’s important because people are going to be seeing that and associating your content on the forum with your brand.

You wouldn’t want to put something like Jeff 1987. If this is something that’s not your brand, it’s going to be harder for them to associate the content with the name of your business or the name of your website.

Step 5 – Make a Signature

Once you have an account and it’s all set up, your next step is to create a signature. A forum signature is important because that’s actually how you’re going to drive traffic to your site.

You don’t want to make the mistake that a lot of people make with forum marketing, which is to try to get some SEO value from this link and they put exact match anchor text. That is not smart because really Google doesn’t consider these links particularly valuable and that over-optimized anchor text can hurt you down the road.

Just make sure to use some sort of call to action in your anchor text that isn’t just your keyword because this is actually how you’re going to drive traffic to your site from the forum.

Consider it a little ad-words ad on the forum. Simply put a call to action, and a link to wherever you want traffic.

Step 6 – Get Active

Once you have your account set up and your signature ready to go, your next step is to actually participate in the forum. To do that, you want to head over to the main area of the forum and see where most people hang out.

Most forums have different sections and you can see how many people are viewing each section at one time and that’s obviously where you want to participate most often because that’s going to get the most eyeballs on your forum signature, which is going to make sure you have the most clicks.

Here’s an example from Warrior Forum.

Screenshot of Warrior Forum homepage
Warrior Forum lets you sort by the most recent or most popular posts of the day, week, and month.

If you have a special area of knowledge that matches up to a certain section, you can, of course, participate there as well.

The next thing you’ll want to do is click on one of the areas that either has a lot of people viewing or is an area of expertise or both and click on it. You want to click at the thread titles and see where you can add value. That’s really important because a lot of people, when they do forum marketing, they make the mistake of just responding to as many as possible.

In our experience, it’s definitely quality over quantity. If you can maybe add one to two quality posts to a thread per day, you can get quite a bit of traffic from that.

Step 7 – Be First to Respond

Being quick to reply to forum questions is crucial.

If you reply first, everyone who views this thread is going to see your response. That won’t happen if you’re all the way down the list.

You definitely want to be early on and that’s why when you look at the forum section, you want to stick to the top as much as possible and not scroll down too much because then when you participate you’re going to be towards the bottom of the thread and not as many people are going to see you.

Step 8 – Create Your Own Threads

Participating in threads is great, but you also want to create your own threads.

You can repurpose some of your blog content as a forum post. It doesn’t have to be original for a forum. Just make sure it’s indexed on your site and once Google indexes it, you can head over to your forum of choice and then give them, maybe, a different version that’s a little shorter or more brief or maybe add something to it that’s exclusive for the forum, so it’s not really just copying pasting.

That’s another reason why you want to provide quality in your responses and not just try to respond as many times as possible, because when people evaluate you, they’re going to be looking at how many post you have and how many times you’ve been thanked. If you have 620 posts and you’ve been thanked five times, it doesn’t look like you’re a very valuable member of the community, but if you’ve been thanked a lot, that’s going to increase your perception of expertise in the forum and increase the likelihood that people are going to click through.

Final Thoughts

That’s really all there is. You want to create an account that has your brand name as the user name. You want to participate as often as possible, but make sure you’re providing value every single time you participate in a thread. Then, when you publish something great on your site, wait for it to get indexed and then head to the form and then paste it there and maybe make some modifications and that’s going to get you some really, really great traffic.