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A site I help with sells a particular set of items, they have a strong reputation locally, and sell parts nationally online. From an observational point of view I enjoy working with them as they do everything right - always willing to go the extra mile for customers, even at times when it seems counter productive (for example spending large amounts of time helping a customer who has spent relatively little money) I would definitely put them in the "good guys" bracket.

Checking server logs I notice they get quite a few links from phpbb style forums, talking about how great the service was/how good the prices were etc. These forums appear to be quite popular - large user list, lots of discussion and questions per day etc.

But (and here is the problem) I'm almost certain these discussion groups aren't being picked up by google.

The customers just don't seem to be the kind of customer who have a blog/twitter feed/website - the sort of content which is more likely to be picked up by google and have page ranking.

I understand partly this is why the stackoverflow/exchange sites exist - to make the web a better place, make answers easier to find, more search engine friendly etc.

Does anyone have any advice as to how to deal with this "problem" of old style discussion groups?

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3 Answers 3

Forum links do often carry value, if you want to get more out of them though consider engaging in the conversation, if someone gives a great review and says to check with you, you can thank the customer that recommended you and save the poster time by answering their question right there. This will help build your reputation online as well as build relationships with those active online in your niche. As mentioned by Litso many people who are active in forums also have blogs or websites by building a reputation as someone that is helpful, knowledgeable, and approachable you increase the opportunity that they'll list you as a resource on their website, or ask you to guest post on their blog etc.

So the short answer is forum links in general can be valuable depending on the forum and the niche but it's the reputation/relationships you build by participating in the forums that will give you the most benefit in terms of link building.

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I agree with John Conde, be happy with the links and focus on other things. If you see someone write a really good review who has his personal website listed in his profile, maybe ask him to post a link to your site with a short description.

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I'd hardly call it a problem. People are giving that website free advertising and, even better, a glowing endorsement. So what if the links are low/no value SEO wise? Isn't the goal to drive in traffic and sales? Anyone who views these posts will see that website in a positive light and are potential customers as a result. Who cares if they found it through a search engine or not? This question is a good example of focusing on small things that really don't matter. I wouldn't be giving this another thought and would instead focus on making sure this traffic is being converted.

But if you have to do something about this, try making a page with links to these glowing testimonials. That will help the search engines find them and hopefully index them. Call the page "see what others are saying about us" or something like that.

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"Isn't the goal to drive in traffic and sales?" - Yes it is. "Who cares if they found it through a search engine or not?" My point/question is that if search engines did find them I would possibly get more traffic and sales. –  MrG Nov 30 '10 at 15:01
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Forum posts like that are rarely going to rank well themselves or carry much weight if they link to you. Trying to squeeze every last benefit out of them is almost certainly not a cost effective use of your time. There probably are a lot of other things you could do to benefit your site then focus on those offsite pages. –  John Conde Nov 30 '10 at 15:14
    
Ok, thanks for answering, I'm just reaching out to see if anyone has came across this before and tried doing anything about it. If you don't think its worth doing, cool. –  MrG Nov 30 '10 at 15:52
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