Sons-of-Anarchy-Season-4-BannerSo, you’ve heard about forum posting for back links and you think that it might be a good idea for your business. Maybe you even did a quick search and found dozens of forum posting services right there at your fingertips. Business owners beware, outsourcing forum posting services just for links can be potentially dangerous.

SEO’s are well aware that in the Google ecosystem there are many dangers and pitfalls inherent to link building strategies. The Google habitat has become much more complex with the introduction of pandas and penguins to our environment. Many web masters, business owners and seo’s have been scrambling to uncover the best new methods of building back links and dominating search. Those of you who are reading this to discover the hottest new trend for building back links to gain search rank are going to be sorely disappointed, as this article is not a guide to building back links but more of a cautionary tale for businesses who outsource a link building method that’s been around for awhile, forum posting.

Most SEO’s are well aware of what kind of back links are naughty and what ones are nice, I would hazard a guess that the majority of business owners remain in the dark as to what techniques could help them or hurt them. One of the most common link building techniques is forum posting and while blog and forum posting can be extremely beneficial to drive incredible amounts of traffic to a site, it’s typically NOT from cheap SEO forum posting packages that you can purchase online. In fact, business owners should know that thoughtless forum posting for the sole purpose of gaining a back link or quick product promotion can actually damage your web site’s reputation.

Those of you who actively participate in forums know exactly what I’m talking about. If you participate in a forum then I’m sure you’ve seen how quickly a newb posting for personal gains will get called out. Yes, even I have been called out on a forum or two when I was just a newb. I can tell you first hand that if you’re not actively using a forum to benefit the entire community then you, your website and your product are subject to an online verbal assault that’s something like being stripped naked and beaten in front of a crowd only to have the crowd applaud your assailant. If you use Reddit you know exactly what I mean.

I feel the social dynamic of forums can be equated to that of a motorcycle club, similar to the type of  MC portrayed on the hit series Sons of Anarchy. You don’t just get to be a member, you have to pay your dues as a newb. Once you’ve proved your salt then you’ve gained the respect of the club and can reap the benefits of your group alliance. The key to being accepted is proving your worth. If you’re submitting BS comments or trying to take a shortcut to the top, then the group is going to give you an online beat down. This is equivalent to the physical beat down you would receive from S.O.A. members if you tried to sleep with the VP’s old lady. And while this may not be as physically painful it will leave you emotionally scarred.

As a business owner you’ll be left licking your wounds and wondering why hundreds or thousands of people visited your site only to mock your product. I personally stay away from forums for the most part when marketing for my clients. I can’t be an expert in every industry, so I play to my strengths and shield my clients from potential backlash. I know many SEO’s who participate in forums for their clients and do a great job with it. I should say none of these people are contracted through a Paypal checkout offering services like 10 forum posts priced at $15.

The fine art of forum posting is a hard one to master, because it’s in our nature to want, want, want. We want to increase our traffic, sales and brand awareness not help other people find solutions to their problems. That takes a lot of time and effort and it’s hard to play the subtle game of give first when all you want is to generate some sales.

The reason forums can drive so much traffic is because people are seeking and providing answers. Both forums and search in general operate largely on the “give and you shall receive” mantra. To summarize, my focus is really in helping business owners be aware that contracting certain seo services can be harmful to their online efforts, specifically forum posting services. Instead of focusing on simply building links, focus on building a reputation by providing useful resources to prospective clients or customers. Is this more work than simply purchasing a link package? Yes, but just like anything else you have to pay your dues to reap the benefits.