About My Website Feedback - SEO Book SEO Forums? Bad Call?

So I have been getting a large number of about my website type emails recently from people who have been using my free link popularity analysis tool.

One of my friends recently sent me this feedback:

I know there isn't much point duplicating the existing webmaster
forums out there, but if you are going to offer tools, a support forum
is probably a good idea.

It may also be a good accompanyment to your blog, adding space for
discussion and creating a broarder landscape for your sites.

Anyway, I'm sure you would have considered it in the past... just a
prompt to consider it again today.

In the past I debated the idea of a forum, but many of my friends have told me bad call bad call bad call.

So do you think I should start a forum or not? What is the best way to efficiently answer questions related to the tools? Forums? Make an FAQ page? Both?

The problems with forums are:

  • even if they start off great eventually they lose their appeal to some extent.

  • the bigger they grow the more of a problem management is.
  • they are exceptionally time consuming & can cut into my ability to have time to learn other things.
  • I am not exceptionally even keeled. Sometimes I like to work hard and other times I like to take a break, plus I go away from home somewhat often now.
  • I really need to become more physically active, and I don't see running forums helping that any.
  • even if I started a small one just for tools I am sure it would eventually widen out, as that is what happened to Shawn, although he did it in a manner where he does not need to spend much time on moderation.
  • You can get sued for anonymous comments that occur on chat boards. More on that later today.
  • although sometimes I have grand ambitions I am not sure forums work profitably unless they have an amazingly huge reach, and I am not sure if I am that ambitious.

The positives of running a forum:

  • it would make it easy to launch new items / ideas / software projects.

  • it could help teach me more about social interaction
  • so far today I have probably answered about 200 emails. there is no archive of that information, although if it were on a forum all that information would be reusable and able to help more people.
  • If I was making enough money from advertising I could change my business model & potentially be able to afford giving my ebook away. But then again if I put a price of $0 on it that is exactly what some people would value it at: as being worthless.

I have learned a lot from SEO forums, but I have also got to do IM chat with people like Dan Thies and NFFC. The biggest complaints with forums are noise, and learning everything in such small chunks that you view them out of proportion. Getting to listen to guys like NFFC or Dan Thies in an IM conversation it really helps you step back and view things from a broader perspective.

Published: August 22, 2005 by Aaron Wall in marketing


August 22, 2005 - 9:25pm

If you want more visitor interaction, emphasize your comments more. If you want to handle support for tools as suggested, there are several good help desk/support ticket systems and faqmakers right.

Use a forum if you want to moderate content supplied by users, otherwise what's the point?

But if you do use a forum - getvanilla.com

August 22, 2005 - 10:17pm

IMO a forum is totally the way to go. i am a big fan of forums and think the potential is there if you can do it right. given that you already have an audience -- and a loyal one at that -- the opportunity for you could be enormous IMO. here's an idea:

you have your book. use a forum as a classroom where people can workshop their SEO ideas. in the end you may end up being able to give your book away for free, expand your reach that way, and use the workshop as a revenue tool. it also opens up better advertising opportunities like the sponsored threads thing nick w has going on at threadwatch which i definitely think is the future of advertising.

anyway, just an idea....for the record i vote forum though! :)

August 22, 2005 - 10:30pm

I love this site and already consider this an excellent resource. While I would love more information from you, until cloning becomes a reality -like Ping from thos AARP commercials - http://www.visit4info.com/details.cfm?adid=22054&type=coolad&startrow=1 - and one of you can be excercising while one of you is taking care of all your web output I'd say test it first.

Here's a way to see if you can really manage adding another task to all the tasks you already do. Create the forum and maintain it for one month with a few testers and see if adding this extra workload can be something that you can maintain.

I'm already behind on reading some of your postings so please - no mas - though I would like to get a peek at some of those emails....
Natasha "That Girl From Marketing" Robinson

August 22, 2005 - 10:45pm

Bad call Aaron - You have WAY better things to do with your time than manage a forum. There are too many great ones already.

I would recommend teaming up with someone like Digital Point and add a forum their for your tools. Why recreate the wheel when you can just borrow your neighbours truck.

DP already has individual forum threads for their tools so it is easy top add one to the list.

August 22, 2005 - 10:46pm

You could do a support forum, if you had the willpower to not let it slide into personal site requests and general newbie seo...

Just support questions. Period.

Or, partner with an existing community if you want to branch out but not admin full time..

August 22, 2005 - 11:54pm

I agree with those saying forums are a bad idea -- there are good ones out there already.

If you feel the need to have a support forum, I like Nick's suggestion to partner with an existing community.

August 23, 2005 - 1:33am

I agree with the poster who said you have better things to do with your time as opposed to running a forum full time. Partnering up with an exising forum makes a lot of sense.

August 23, 2005 - 2:18am

I think you can accomplish your stated support function via FAQ pages plus make dedicated blog posts and use the comments like a forum. Look at TW, there have been many great discussions there without the hassle of a forum.

Thanks for being concerned about supporting great tools you are making avaivable for free!


August 23, 2005 - 10:11am

Why not go the route of a mailing list or Google group?

They have far less tendency to go "off topic".

August 23, 2005 - 11:40am

Personally, I think forums are a great tool and could potentially offer significant advantages.

It seems the main objection to having a forum is that you don't feel you have enough time to dedicate to it - in which case, you do far worse then ask if a couple of people would help you moderate it from the start, or else have an official support board at another site.

Couple of things on your comments:


1/ That's why you need to keep a clear vision of what you want your forum to achieve, and steer it in that direction;

2/ As forums grow larger, so does the number of active members who are happy to take over responsibilities for you - the difficult part is in learning who may work well in a staff team, but that's part of the fun;

3/ They are time-consuming - but once they develop a social network of their own, it can be personally rewarding;

4/ That's where a couple of staff to help at the start would be useful;

5/ Forums don't help - but you'll probably find yourself online anyway. Personally, as my own forums have grown, I've simply spent less overall time lounging in other people's.

6/ A forum that broadens out can be a good thing - that's a broader sales platform you could be working from - it's a perfect environment for permission marketing. However, if you really don't want a forum to broaden out, you don't have to;

7/ Not sure if you can be held liable or not - though this almost certainly depends upon your legal jurisdiction. I wouldn't hold it as an objection, though, as you could potentially be sued anyway for what's on your site;

8/ Don't be ambitious to start with then - a support form for your tools *is* a good idea for your users, especially with the reference material to help them.


August 25, 2005 - 5:12pm

pipe those emails out of gmail via rss and see what happens

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