So how does one build a search engine marketing forum? Why do some forums take off while others fail? What causes forums to split and what makes them stick? I have been an active member of many of the SEM forums on the Web for a couple years. I have spoken with most of the owners of the forums and participated in decision making for several of the online forums. I feel I might have some insight into search related forum dynamics.
New forums are launched daily, most are using the the technology provided by either phpBB Group or vBulletin. A forum can be put in place in less then 10 minutes, its that easy. But what does it take to build a successful forum?
I have a list of some of the more popular SEM forums in The Forums section of this site. While some are very small, they do have a faithful and loyal following. The large forums like WebmasterWorld, SEO Chat and SitePoint attract new members every hour or less. SitePoint and SEO Chat have a huge network of sister sites that they play off of to increase the value of the other sister sites. WebmasterWorld does some great work with public relations to bring in new members and have experienced members stay.
Then we have forums like JimWorld that is one of the oldest Internet forums. JimWorld has a rich history and with the passing of its founder, the forums declined in value. This past year, there has been major strides taken to revamp the forums at JimWorld and bring back its old time flair.
The new Search Engine Watch Forums, in my opinion, is destined for success. Danny Sullivan is able to attract the biggest names in this industry to join and participate in the forums. The information site's current reach is huge and expanding it to a forum will ensure large visibility and signup rates. In addition, JupiterMedia is no small company. :)
Forums like Cre8asite stand out because of the moderators and administrators. They have well known people running the boards who care about each posts quality. Everything is kept very tidy and neat. All posts are responded to quickly and in a detailed fashion. The admins and moderators make this forum run.
Other forums like HighRankings (not so small) DigitalPoints, SEO Guys, ABAKUS and others drive a smaller but loyal crowd of dedicated members. I find it very funny, the members are kind of little fan clubs for the owners. But they work well and normally are more advanced then some of the larger forums.
All these types of forums have succeeded to some level. Either because of their corporate backings, the owner's personalities and achievements, the moderators and history. Often you will find forums break up because of petty arguments between high profile members. Sometimes the split of a forum makes for two better forums and some times not. It is all about how the forum is managed and what type of support they have.