Crowd Advertising: A Hyperlink Constructing Technique That Solely 2% Ranks Larger On Google
30 second summary:
- Link building will still play a prominent role in the SERP ranking in 2020.
- Crowd marketing is a technique based on building backlinks in forums and communities.
- Most people don't use it and you can use that.
Crowd Marketing: what is it?
Crowd marketing is one of the often neglected link building methods that can help you gain a competitive advantage in Google ranking. It's often referred to as forum or community marketing because that's where those backlinks come from.
In this article, we will find out why this link building strategy is still useful in 2020, what best practices to use, and what things to keep in mind. Stay tuned!
Content created in collaboration with Crowdo.
Why would crowd marketing benefit your SEO strategy?
There are tens of thousands of niche relevant forums with a large number of visitors and large metrics. Crowd marketing offers not only pure SEO profits, but also indirect advantages. Some of the advantages are as follows:
- A stronger and varied backlink profile: Links from niche-specific forums can strengthen and diversify your backlink profile. As a result, you will rank higher in Google search.
- More views and more brand awareness: You will get lots of eyes on your website which is great for brand awareness.
- Increase in website traffic and potential customers: Since we are interested in targeting specific online communities, you can expect an influx of traffic to your website and potentially more leads and customers.
As mentioned above, this technique has been largely underestimated, and that's really great! That means you can take full advantage of it and possibly better than your competitors.
Digital community marketing and its types
There are a dozen sources that might be relevant to running crowd marketing campaigns. These include:
- Blog (comment area): Heavily overused and no longer effective method of creating backlinks. Why? Because blog comments are usually not well moderated, which means it is an open book to spammers, and that's not what we're looking for.
- Social media and Q&A websites: Once again, likely effective for brand awareness, not so much for SEO. Why? Again, the low level of moderation and the fact that all links from these platforms do not establish any authority for a backlink profile.
- Forums / Communities: Bingo, we just hit our sweet spot! For every niche, there are a variety of forums with real human visitors and a heavy emphasis on moderation and helpful content. That's what we're looking for as links from these sources can give you a solid boost in SERP.
Link building in the forum: a checklist and best practices
1. Look for niche relevant forums
Context is king, and this rule also applies to link building. Make sure you do a thorough search and select only the communities that discuss topics that are relevant to your niche.
Here are some tips that can help you do this:
- Avoid the so-called "hello threads" where people greet each other and literally talk about everything. These are useless for SEO purposes.
- Search for niche relevant forums. Say you have an auto shipping company. You should only look for resources that discuss vehicles.
- Note that there are a limited number of websites that are relevant to your business. Don't worry, though, as you can find relevant topics in general forums as well. For example, if you are trading cryptocurrency, you can search IT forums for specific threads related to crypto.
- If you can find local websites this is even better. If you offer a local service and happen to find a digital community near you, this is an added bonus point for backlinking purposes.
2. Look at the traffic volume
You should target popular websites with a real human audience. Websites that have a high volume of traffic and user engagement look trustworthy in the eyes of Google and can also place your company right in front of your target audience.
You can use tools like SimilarWeb to estimate a website's traffic. There is no right or wrong here, but at Crowdo we recommend that you aim for forums with at least 30,000 visitors per month. Usually, when a forum isn't getting a lot of traffic, it's not a good sign. This may indicate that it is no longer active or has become a hub for spammers with no human audience.
3. Take a look at the metrics (let's go, SEO nerds)
When deciding whether a particular forum will be useful for your backlink campaign, it is a good idea to take a close look at website metrics. Let's give a quick rundown of the important metrics to consider:
- DA / DR: This number indicates the overall strength of the domain. The higher the better, try looking at sites with more than 50 DA.
- TF: This metric is based on the trustworthiness of a website based on the quality its referring domains. For example, links from educational websites or Wikipedia would rank much higher than links from social profiles.
- CF: This number is based on that number of referring domains. It's useful to see how trendy or viral the website is, but it doesn't say much about the quality of the information.
- PA / UR: This metric is calculated in the same way as DA, but limited to a specific webpage. This is useful when you are looking at a specific forum thread as it is a separate page (hence a separate URL).
4. Verify that a forum is properly moderated
In our case, moderation refers to the extent to which forum content is checked / removed by administrators, as well as their tolerance of self-promotion or even spam.
While you can use tools that assess the "spam rating" of a given website. However, it is better to stick to your judgment. Just spend some time browsing the forum, checking out what people are posting and what they are talking about.
If you see countless comments of the same type containing the exact same advertisements, bad wording and links, it is a warning sign that the forum is not moderated and therefore likely contains a lot of spam – this is clearly a "no go" because backlinks of these websites are toxic and do more harm than good to your SEO in the long run.
On the other hand, in forums with aggressive moderation, you can never post a link, even if it fits the context and discussion. In summary, moderate moderation is usually preferable, as a link can ONLY be included if it is relevant.
Action time: Write solid forum replies
Now that you know everything you need to know about choosing decent link building websites. However, you are not a crowd marketing guru if you don't know how to use them properly.
Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons when it comes to posting responses with a backlink to your website.
- Use correct language, grammar, and jargon as appropriate. The word "crowd" is here for a reason. If the community you are targeting uses a particular vocabulary, use it too. Proofread your comments and check for grammar problems.
- Analyze the discussion before posting anything. Your comment should fit into the rest of the thread. Be sure to read other users' responses to get a better idea of the topic.
- Link back to your website naturally. If you've written a solid comment, take this chance and add a backlink of course. Use the appropriate anchor text and don't even try to clickbait or get users to visit your website aggressively.
- Try to hide a backlink. This is a black hat and will be punished by admins (or even google if it is used excessively).
- Use software for bulk booking. This has stopped working and will likely result in a Google penalty.
- Copy and paste the exact same answer template with your link. The context around the link is important. So make sure it is unique and solid.
Forum links: dofollow or nofollow?
"Nofollow links are useless" is probably one of the most common SEO misconceptions you will ever encounter. In fact, a natural mix of dofollow and nofollow links is very beneficial.
It has already been confirmed that Google treats "nofollow" as a notice which, depending on the context, anchor text and referring domain, can potentially lead to higher rankings. For example, all of them claim that Wikipedia backlinks are useful even though they always don't follow.
The main course is
If you find that all of the links posted in a particular forum have a nofollow tag, don't quit as they may still be helpful to your ranking. Other than that, regardless of their tag, users click the links so it doesn't matter at all for traffic generation. Just make sure that not all of the backlinks you create are not following as this is also not sending the correct signal to Google.
Crowd Marketing: So is it a black hat or a white hat?
The technique itself is completely organic and knows when applied correctly. Basically any SEO method can be turned into a black hat if misused.
For example, the same words can be said about posting outreach guests. If you really reach out to website owners, suggesting interesting content, and taking the opportunity to create a few links, that's great and will never penalize you.
Now, if you are building a blog network for link building purposes only (e.g. PBN), this is a black hat scheme that will not go unnoticed.
The same logic can be applied here. If you are writing real and helpful answers that will benefit the community and include relevant backlinks to your website, you are doing everything right. A well-executed crowd marketing campaign is not based on spam or volume, quality is still key.
Don't try to fool Google and use automated software and spam all night long because that's black hat and it's punishable by law.
This is great, but it looks like there are so many things to consider …
Crowd marketing is definitely time consuming! Let's round up just a few of the things you need to run a successful crowd marketing campaign:
- You need to do a lot of research to find relevant forums and communities.
- You need to review their metrics, traffic, and moderation level.
- You need to create an account for each of them. In most cases, you also need to build a reputation before posting links (or anything else).
- In some cases, you have to pay a membership fee to join an online community.
- You have to search for niche specific threads and write helpful answers for each one.
As you can see, this takes a lot of time, resources and dedication. For this reason, SEO enthusiasts mostly prefer this task to reputable link building services like Crowdo. There is no one to stop you from doing this yourself, but you will soon find that it is difficult to do on a large scale.
Make sure you don't fall victim to seedy backlink providers or freelancers willing to do the job cheaply. You have just seen that getting it “right” is not easy. So, when you see suspiciously low prices, it often means either software was used or no research was done on the way. Both of these decrease your real SEO efforts.
We hope that you have learned all about link building in the forum. If you would like to leave this job to professionals, you are welcome to check out what Crowdo has to offer with a discount of 10% exclusively for SEW readers!
If you want to learn more about forum link creation, check out the latest report here.
Andrei Cucleschin is Marketing Director at Crowdo. In addition to content writing, he is passionate about design, travel, and coffee.