Why SEO Message Boards Still Hold Value
Written by: Nick LeRoy
I am surprised that so many people these days are writing off SEO message boards. Yes, many of them are regularly spammed by inexperienced "SEO providers" but the quality is still there. Just like SEO you can't be lazy; you must dig through all the junk in order to find the gems. When I first started out in SEO I gained a lot of knowledge through reading popular posts and listening to the advice of more seasoned SEO practitioners. It's my opinion that all SEO newcomers should be visiting message boards to get the advice of more experienced professionals. The combination of being willing to learn and admitting that you may not know everything about SEO is how you can really succeed with a future campaign. Listed below are additional ways to get the most value from message boards.
Read, Read Again, Then Ask
Odds are that if you have a SEO question it's already been answered... at least 5 times. Take some time to look over some "stickied" posts and other threads that have recently been created. Many new users are scared away by the big mean 'super-posters' that snap at them for asking "stupid questions". It's not that these users hate you it's just that they get frustrated when you want valuable information without exercising any effort. SEO communities are pretty open and helpful but do not put up with any laziness.
If you have spent some significant time looking over the stickied threads and conducted site wide searches for your question without avail then feel free to create a post. It's not unreasonable that you post a situation that may be unique to your site or a claim that has not been addressed before. Please be courteous in the way you address the community, don't demand certain answers and make sure you are willing to accept others opinions. Remember that SEO isn't an exact science and that people may address your situation in different manners. The more intellectual and intriguing questions you ask the better answers you will receive.
Testing is Key
A lot of SEO advice is thrown around on message boards as well as the rest of the internet. It's very important that you distinguish between the good and bad advice.With this said it's very important to test both yours and others suggested theories. I sure hope you won't take my advice to add your root directory to the robots.txt file just because I claimed to obtain number 1 rankings with this technique. It's very rare that you see someone giving malicious advice to purposely harm someone's rankings but bad information does get around in this niche. A good SEO will always test their strategies and learn from past mistakes.
Not every SEO or webmaster works in an office with several SEO's sitting right next to them. Because of this it's not very often that they get to bounce ideas off of anyone with SEO knowledge. This in my opinion is where the real value of message boards comes in. If I have an idea that I haven't had time to test I may check to see what everyone else thinks. Is this something that they believe would add value? Or has someone already tried this and can prove why it didn't work. If it's a reputable member that gives real reasons and examples to why it doesn't work I may reconsider using my time for a different test.
Every rule has an exception and message boards fall into this category as well. While I personally feel like I get value out of several message boards there are others that I simply don't waste my time with. I have found that some message boards or forums simply do not crack down on the spam and the levels of quality contributing members are extremely low. It's very important that you take the time to do a little research for the forums that you want to participate in. Don't worry about the footer link opportunities; they won't make much (if any) difference in your rankings. Focus on the opportunity to learn and improve upon your search campaigns. Message boards may not be the leading contributor to a number one ranking but it's a fantastic way to start out and to get continued support throughout the journey.