Did you know that you can browse blogs and forums your target market reads for about an hour a week and be marketing your business? You can!
First, find blogs and forums that attract your target market. The topic should generally be related to your business in some way, but probably not published by a direct competitor. The objective in selecting these sites is that your actual or prospective customers are reading them on a regular basis.
Next, read through recent entries to find posts where you have something useful to add to the conversation – preferably on a topic that’s directly relevant to your business.
Your goal in your comments is to be as helpful as possible. You want to do more than add a comment just agreeing with someone else or making a generic comment. You want to use your business expertise to assist the readers. The benefit of doing this is that people reading these sites will begin to see you as knowledgeable in your area and may choose to check you out further.
When you add a comment to a blog post, you’ll have a hotlink on your name that points back to your site. Forums often allow you to create a signature containing your site address that’s automatically included at the end of each post you make. Not only do these links help readers find your site, they may also help you build additional links back to your site that search engines see and value.
The more links to your site that exist – especially from ‘popular’ sites – the better your organic (non-paid) search engine rankings will be.
The ‘nofollow” Tag
Note that some blogs will have the ‘nofollow’ tag set on their comments. This tag tells search engine spiders not to give the commenter credit for the link to his site. Blog publishers do this to discourage spam comments that have only the goal of getting links back to a site and not providing anything of value to the websites they were posted to.
While adding quality comments to blogs not using the ‘nofollow’ tag will help you with both readers clicking through to your site as well as search engine rankings, you don’t need to avoid the blogs that do use this tag. As long as you’re adding valuable comments, readers will click through to your site, and that’s who you’re trying to attract, right?
Also, the ‘nofollow’ tag does not stop search engines from following the link, it just prevents any of the weight being carried from that page to the page it is linked to; the search engine spiders still do follow the links.
Blog Comment Tool
I use a tool called Comment Kahuna to find relevant blog pages by using keywords I specify. It will show me which blogs use the ‘nofollow’ tag so I can decide whether or not to post comments to them or only to ones without it. I can specify the minimum page rank of each blog page and how many results I want.
Once the program returns the results, I can go to each page to decide if I want to add a comment. If so, the system will auto-fill my name, email address, and web site URL and I’m ready to add a comment. If not, I can tell the program to skip this blog and move on to the next one. I can stop at any time and the system can pick up where I left off next time.
The best part about this tool is that it’s free, so give it a try!
Forum Comment Tool
For finding appropriate forum threads, I use another free tool called BotSurfer. With this tool, you must find a list of relevant forums and input their URLs into the tool. It will then find threads within these forums that contain the keywords you specify.
To find relevant forums, just go to Google or Yahoo and type in your keyword topic: Online forum + Keyword
You can find this tool at BotSurfer. Check out the forum posting tutorial links at the left, too. While they’re oriented toward affiliates of Article Marketer (I am one), the principles are applicable to anyone wanting to use forums to attract visitors to her business.
It goes without saying (I hope!) that you shouldn’t post comments to blogs or forums that are just links to your site. They will be considered spam, almost certainly be removed, and may cause you to be banned from the site.
I put aside about an hour each week to comment on blogs and forums. You obviously could spend much, much more time doing this, but remember this is just one of your marketing strategies and don’t get too carried away!
If you’ve been using this technique, post a comment and let us all know how it’s worked for you. If not, give it a whirl and let me know what you think. And, of course, if you have any questions, post them and I’ll reply.