vBulletin - bad for Google listings?

Discussion in 'Forum SEO' started by nsusa, Feb 14, 2006.

  1. Music Man

    Music Man Keep Music Alive


    I see your point, your view has been a popular opinion for quite some time now. The more trusted your site's opinions and information is about a particular topic, the more loyal your visitors will be. You'll also be successful at getting recommendations from other people and they'll post links to you and such. I also agree with your observation of the recent "forum boom" where everyone and their dog starts a forum and copies what they've seen elsewhere. Only the strong, innovative forums will survive, and it's pretty common for most forums to not last past the 90 day mark. But things are changing lately. In my opinion I would rather Google a very specific query and find the perfect answer rather than spend a lot of time searching one particular site that has a great reputation and has been around forever (and not always find an answer). In my experience, I see more and more people doing the same thing. What happens when someone finds the perfect answer to their question, and also discovers that the site they are directed to also is a wonderful community full of interaction and discussion of LOTS of things you'd like to learn about? THEY JOIN! Their loyalty to that old site can be stolen away pretty easy now because they've found a place that offers non-stop new information that they're interested in, and the best thing is that it's coming not from one webmaster, it's coming from thousands of people that are passionate about the same things. :)

    So I have to agree that forums have an untapped potential that will soon explode and show the world some very amazing things. I don't think it's the be all/end all...but I do believe that they have more potential than any other web application we've ever seen. ;)
  2. rex_b

    rex_b Fanatic

    I think it needs to be said like this:

    1. a website can make more than a forum in general

    2. a forum can make some money

    3. a website with a forum is gold!
  3. mojo

    mojo Habitué

    That is a good way of putting it, Rex.
  4. AWS

    AWS Guest

    A man of few words, but, a wealth of common sense.
  5. nsusa

    nsusa Aspirant

    I agree on this statement. The forum will drive the traffic to the site and the site converts the visitors into paying customers as well as the income from advertising goes up.

  6. Music Man

    Music Man Keep Music Alive

    Perhaps I somehow am an unconventional thinker because everyone seems to be biased and stuck in the box that regular websites are more cost effective than forums, but consider the following.

    For businesses that rely on websites, what is the product and who produces the product?

    A: Either tangible goods, services, or informative content.
    The owner is responsible for not only production of the product, marketing, sales, coding, writing content, advertising, improving and updating products, market research and producing new products to meet demand, and the list goes on....(breath)...he's also responsible for paying for whatever aspects he can't do himself or get volunteers to help with. Let's just say that even if a website isn't offering some type of tangible goods or even a service, they still have an immense amount of work to do considering the static nature of html coding and writing new content.

    Now lets ask the same questions for a stand-alone forum with no portal, no website, nothing.

    Q: What is the product offered by a forum, and who produces the product?

    A: Informative content, entertainment, and community interaction.

    The owner of this type of business is only responsible for startup. Initially there is plenty to do such as finding hosting, setting up software, and generating content and new members. After a while when you have organized a team of volunteer staff who help you manage things, the workload gets significantly easier. So what is the website owner described above doing around the same time that the forum owner is starting up his 5th forum and vacationing in Bermuda every other month? The website owner is still struggling to make ends meet and find enough reliable cogs in the machine to make things run smoother without him having to be around all the time.

    If websites and forums were a crew of landscapers, it would look like this...

    The Website Landscaping Inc. would be a crew of 10 people, all wearing tuxedos (to maintain an appearance of professional experience and knowledge). Each common laborer would be paid $100/hour because they all know (in their minds) EXACTLY how to mow a yard correctly and they demanded they be paid according to their boasting. The crew only manages to cut one yard a day because they believe that using small pairs of scissors to cut the grass is the best way to make it look good (not to mention that newfangled lawnmower gadgets scare them). They don't interact with each other enough, so there is no uniform height to the grass, so the owner is forced to go around with his scissors and make everything look halfway decent after everyone is done.

    Forum Landscaping Inc. is a crew of 3, just the owner and a couple of trusted friends who share the passion of landscaping. These guys only have one lawnmower but they manage to cut around 20 lawns a day. What they do is they go to a neigborhood and knock on the door of a customer. They take the customer outside and the owner says "I like cutting the grass going in north-south strips.", then he grabs the mower and shows how he prefers to cut grass. Then the customer says "That's cool, but I like to cut going east-west", then the customer cuts for a few minutes. Then the neighbors come over to see what's going on.

    The discussion of preferences continues and soon there is a whole neighborhood of folks waiting to show their method of landscaping. The mower is set to the same height so everything looks great, but everything has a real personal touch to it. They roam around the neighborhood cutting 20 different lawns together. At the end of the day this whole neighborhood of people has been interacting and learning from each other. They've shared a ton of laughs, had some great debates on mowing methods, and a few even had some arguments and then realized how stupid they acted and shared a beer together that evening.

    Forum Landscaping has just mowed 20 lawns in one day, and the owner only had to invest about 5 minutes of labor to get things rolling. The customers performed the work for him, and enjoyed their time so much they weren't concerned about the bill. They were happy to have had such a great time and learned so much they didn't even notice that they did all the work.

    Ok that's the end of my crazy metaphorical summation. I hope someone enjoys it.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2006
  7. BamaStangGuy

    BamaStangGuy Fanatic

    VERY good post Music Man and I agree with you
  8. kilcher

    kilcher Devotee

    I agree. I would love to have a website and the added income that comes along with it. But to be honest I've just been too lazy. I don't know that it would be worth the extra work (for me).

    I have been toying with the idea of starting a second forum. That's more appealing to me than adding content to the one I have now.
  9. Ted S

    Ted S Tazmanian Master

    If anything is changing it's the explosive growth of social networking and communities online. Looking back to the early days of the internet it's clear that community has always been a driving (if not the driving) force behind the internet. Early sites like Geocities and Xoom made it easy for small businesses and individuals to have their own websites, in a time where commercial hosting was far beyond the reach of most hobbyist. Before that the bbs and later usenet groups served as the lifeblood for the developers who made much of the technology we see today.

    By the late 90s many of the major community sites were thriving but after the dot-com "crash" that was mostly forgotten. Instead we saw enormous growth in commerce driven sites while communities struggled to make ends meet despite the rapid rise in userbase and popularity. Of course this made sense -- sites with positive ROI who were not ad dependant were by far more economically viable. Indeed the concept of making money from visitors was forgotten for all but the largest websites. As more brands entered the marketplace selling their goods rather than just telling people where to buy them, the internet became a commercial vehicle of the brands. But slowly and steadily the community that was still behind much of people's online activity came back to the forefront. In 2005 we saw myspace spring to life and make a splash all over the mainstream media after being sold for hundreds of millions of dollars to one of the most well known news media corporations on the planet. At the same time Circuit City began promoting their consumer reviews on TV commercials as a key (and sometimes standalone) positioning. Compression shopping is one of the hottest growing sections of the internet, any band that wants to be seen is on myspace, yahoo music and similar sites and all over we see blogs, forums, and interactive tools not just on small sites but on the major names like Coke.

    Aside from just ranting their is a point to my story and that is the importance of community and commerce as a synergy. Pew Internet has done survey after survey tracking social networking and online behavior and the numbers really say it all. Nearly everyone and certainly the vast majority of web users have used a community site at one point or another. Consumer reviews and networking sites help drive product purchase decisions and have revenue implications in the billions. Some of the largest forums belong to brand name companies yet at the same time, many top executives still fail to see the value, often because the roi can't be clearly established.

    For a website in today's market, economic viability really comes down to the ability to sell. Either a site can sell it's value to advertisers or it has no business trying to make money. Traditional websites retain the advantage of seeming to be more professional and organized than a site that is "just a bunch of people arguing". However, for the right community with the right set of rules this notion is fading.

    Not all industries are ready to see community sites or even the internet as being of value and not all forums are ready to project themselves as being effective marketing tools. Again, the traditional website holds the advantage in these arenas and probably will continue to do so. But, for those sites that lead in their niches there is tremendous opportunity. Take Nexopia for example, the Canadian based forum that has a market penetration into the youth sector which is literally on par with many magazines and tv shows. Despite negative PR, privacy concerns and a clientele that is mostly without credit cards, Nexopia thrives and from what I gather, brings in revenue hand over foot. Would Nexopia have had this discuss had they merely posted articles and photos about things happening in Canada? It's unlikely.

    The same is true for almost all of the largest websites. Interactive means traffic. Static means hit-and-go visitors. Even the news sites seem to understand this and that's why you see a poll on the home page of CNN along with video, debate questions and so forth.

    Ultimately I think several people have hit the nail on the head when they say that merging static with dynamic is a good idea. There are times when going one way or the other works and may work best but generally one wants to go both ways. People perceive an article in a magazine as being fair, honest and accurate but the same article, had it been a forum posting, would likely be a topic for debate. The truth is that sponsors and corporate press releases often serve as the creation of these articles but the printing of that article still makes people trust it. Sites with a good blend of community and content can establish trust and professionalism while taking advantage of amazing volumes of input, opinions and discussion.

    But, to quote AWS, “[forums] are not the be all end all as some seem to think.” Indeed I have watched a president of one of the largest and most well known names in an industry join a forum, open a thread asking for suggestions and been driven away by insults, flames and berating on a site that is otherwise known for civility.
    Forums give companies a unique insight into what their consumers think and want but they are also a place where people can say or do just about anything. Even the best forums with the highest caliber users and moderators still run the risk of competitors making false posts, people making unfounded allegations and all sorts of disinformation being spread. This is once again, why there is a need for a two-sided approach to websites. A professional written review accompanied by user submitted feedback. Expert opinions and advice along with amateur input and suggestions.

    There are always those sites which stand out from the crowd and whether they have a forum or not, those sites will lead in their industries. Going one way or another does not make a site successful when compared to the site’s ability to command respect and attention in that same industry.

    My apologies in advance for straying off topic… I started with a simple point to make and felt the need to go on (and on and on) in the middle. Hopefully the original idea was not completely lost in the mix…
  10. DChapman

    DChapman Devotee

    That was a really neat post Music Man :)

    TedS, another good post. You're thinking of forums as a business tool, and they most definitely can be utilized that way with FANTASTIC results! But what about the million other kinds of forums out there? What about the forum for my zip code where my offline community is coming together, online, to talk about our city, form carpools, share their thoughts on local eateries, invite each other out in "real life" and more? What about the forum I am a member of where we talk about a disease we share that has no known cure? What about the forum someone I work with found for people who REALLY like underwear? What about the forums where questions such as, "How do I shave properly?" are answered on a daily basis. What about the forum for [fill in the blank].

    It's 5:54 am here. Behind me is someone asleep on my couch. I'd never met this person "in real life" until Friday evening. He finally came for a visit after being sent home from Iraq. He is an Army Sergeant my who happened to come across one of the communities I run while he was in Iraq. My community adopted him and his platoon; we sent a ton of care packages to them. And I now have someone who will likely be a life-long friend.

    People coming together. Our society coming together. One forum at a time.

    At present, yes, websites account for more revenue than forums. However, forums can make a LOT of money. There are forums out there that have made their owners millionaires. And once methods of advertising are released that are not flawed solutions for forums AND new means of revenue generation for forums are invented, the gap between forums and websites will begin to close. Fact is, forums are the ultimate in targetted demographics. Once advertisers realize this, you're going to see forums garner a lot more advertising dollars.

    Of course, we must remember, it's not always about the money. I know for a fact that the forums I run have helped a reasonable amount of people in one way or another. I have no doubt everyone reading this post could say the same thing about theirs. To me, that's far more valuable than any click of an ad.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2006
  11. thegetpr

    thegetpr Aspirant

    create your robots.txt and upload it to root directory of your website/bog
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