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Added: August 3, 2007

Effective Message Board Forum Marketing Tactics

There is a fine line between spamming a message board and using a message board or online forum to promote your web site.  However, as long as you are able to tread carefully, forums can be a great way to spread the word about your product or service.  Below are some tips for being useful, rather than spammy, and establishing yourself as a respected and welcome presence on any online message board you visit.
Introduce yourself.  Any internet forum you visit will have an area of the board devoted to introductions and welcoming new members.  Posting an introduction is polite, and gives you a great opportunity to talk about yourself, your site, and why you have decided to join that particular web community. 
Make use of your signature.  One way to discreetly promote your website, product, or service is to link it in your signature on any message boards you visit.  These links are valuable from an SEO perspective, though they may also lead to clicks from others in the forum.  Even if you cannot include links in your signature when you first begin posting, it is acceptable to type out the URL of the website you run.
Participate in discussions.  There is no need to jump in with one or two word comments like, "I agree," at every turn, but you can make yourself a welcome presence on any message board by contributing constructively.  Think of the areas in which you excell, and offer advice and suggestions to people who have questions in those areas.  You can also contribute in more generalized discussion forums -- you may find that you are building friendships as well as networking contacts!
Be polite.  It's very easy to lose your temper and say things online that you would never say to a person's face.  Do not fall victim to bullying on the internet; be professional and cordial even when you disagree with another poster.  That will make you -- and in turn, your business -- look good!
Do talk about yourself and your web site.  If a specific forum thread asks for advice about sites like yours, it's okay to share your experience and offer your services.  As long as you are careful to avoid shameless and random self-promotion, you can make valuable contacts and even build new client relationships over message boards. 
Trade links whenever possible.  You will have the most success exchanging hardlinks in a forum that is designed for webmasters in your field.  However, you may also have some luck trading with consumers in your industry -- some of them may be happy to review and/or blog about your product, service, or site on their own web page in exchange for payment or free samples. 
Message boards may not be the most important part of optimizing your web site for search engines, but they can be one of many valuable assets in the quest for better page ranking and improved placement in organic search results.  You might even make some friends along the way! 

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