There’s no shortage of resources for learning about SEO. From books to blogs to conferences to articles, the list is endless. The challenge for business owners new to SEO is where to go and what to read first.
While I personally would advocate an understanding of the fundamentals of web design, development and search engine optimization first, the question then becomes “where to go next?”.
The Answer: Forum Communities
Online forums are some of the best free resources for information, discussion and communication on strategies and techniques website owners used for SEO, SEM, website marketing and other important skills.
Here are 9 online forum communities I would recommend checking out:
- Search Engine Forums – The first SEO community I was regularly active in.
- High Rankings Forums – I know Jill Whalen invests a lot of time making sure this forum is successful.
- Cre8asite Forums – A very friendly community with a wide range of topics and expertise; lots of good contributors
- Forums at Search Engine Watch
- SEO Chat Forums
- Webmaster World – Probably the most widely known as a forum covering all aspects of website management and online business.
- Digital Point Forums
- SitePoint Forums – I personally feel beginners would the topics a bit more advanced, but I’m not active in this community enough to make a solid judgment.
- Forums on Search Engine Journal – I’ve never subscribed or contributed in these forums, but as you continue reading, you’ll understand why I would recommend them.
Why Forum Communities?
Blogs and articles in industry publications tend to dominate search results for those not entrenched in the SEO community but looking for relevant information. While there’s nothing wrong with these resources (and many are quite good), here are a some reasons why forum communities provide a solid alternative for research.
- There’s a greater opportunity for 2-way communication. Blog comments provide some communication but rarely are used to tackle additional issues or delve into specific circumstances.
- You’ll get multiple opinions and perspectives. Even though there are multiple author blogs, it’s only in a comments section where more than one person contributes (directly).
- There’s a wider range of discussions happening all the time, across multiple topics. While most search blogs do cover a range of information, the coverage is based on what the blog author wants to write about, whereas forums can offer a discussion on any topic at any point in time.
As with any resource, make an attempt to understand the perspectives of those in a discussion to determine how appropriate it is for your situation.
How to get the most out of forum communities
There’s nothing wrong with using forum communities only as a place to research information, but you’ll get more value by participating and contributing knowledge. Here’s a few suggestions on how to get started:
- Read through some of the messages to get a feel for the community and communication style.
- Add an introductory post in the “Welcome New Members” thread (or thread with a similar title). It’s good as an ice breaker (see my introductory post from Cre8asite Forums above) and will make your presence known in the community. If you are a beginner, don’t be afraid to say so.
- Before asking questions, see if there are threads/messages that already tackle the issue, and try to contribute in those threads first, if possible.
- Don’t be afraid to offer insight but be prepared to acknowledge mistakes and consider others perspectives & experience.
- Have fun and don’t take things personal or let anger or emotion get in the way of a good discussion (see Aussie Webmaster’s little jab below – all in good fun and I’m embarrassed how long it took me to post anything in the first place!)
Search Engine Roundtable
Since it would be challenging to be a member of every forum, Search Engine Roundtable does it’s part by keeping the busy website owner up to date on what’s happening in all of the major communities.
Search Engine Roundtable’s mission “is to provide you with a single source to locate the best search engine marketing threads on the Internet”.
In addition to regular blog post highlighting important threads, visitors can use SE Roundtable’s custom search engine to look for specific archives of interest. As I put the finishing touches into this post, I also realized they have a nice list of the same forums (and a couple others worth checking out) as well.
Hopefully you will find these communities forum as valuable as I have and if there are other forums that have helped you in your SEO endeavors, I would love to know in the comments below.
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