Build a Community with a Forum

Why do Influencers use the term “Community” instead of followers or fans or admirers?

This is because they have been engaging online so long that they realised that building a community is more important than gaining followers just for the sake of it. A community that is built on similar interest, passion or ambition will not only grow by itself but also help you grow along with it.

Every niche is a community complete in itself and everyone within it must understand that growing as an individual is important but to make that growth persistent & recognizable you need a community.

If you want your growth to persistent & recognizable, then you have 2 options –
Look for a community or Try creating one.
In this post, you will learn how to create a community using a forum.

What is a Forum?

A forum is an online discussion portal where users from similar interest or niche contribute and grow. These portals are used by users to ask questions & get answers, to share their personal view or expierience, to discuss topics, & resolve issues. Forums help individuals & business to provide a platform to their users or community to help each other with a focus to learn & grow.

Our Digital Marketing Forum
Our Digital Marketing Forum is Strictly Moderated – Only SEO | SEM | PPC | SEO Tools | WordPress Topics are Discussed Here. Get your Queries & Problems Resolved Quickly.

Why do I need a WordPress Forum?

Just consider yourself!

You come to Softscotch.com to check us out and you find this page named “Forum” with a bunch of people having a conversation regarding various aspects of Digital marketing and the problems they are facing in it.

Won’t this make you stay a bit longer on the site and arouse you to engage in a conversation with them?

Obviously, if you are interested in what you are searching for, then it will! The whole idea is to give as many reasons as possible to make them stay a bit longer on your site.

Remeber, Google loves sites which have better dwell time.

You can read this amazing article by Larry Kim on How the dwell time is taken seriously by Google after the Rank Brain update. He talks about how organic traffic of Unicorn Content ( Top performing content ) & Donkey content ( Low performing content ) is affected by the user dwell time on pages. Based on his analysis he found that pages with less dwell time were losing organic traffic as a result of losing their positions on the search results.

I know this applies more to a blog post than to a page. but, if you are able to provoke curiosity or instigate the user to feel interested in knowing more about you then that is all that’s needed to have the user stay a bit longer. This could happen with the user coming across your informative answers on the forum or the way you interacted with another user or the way existing users admire your work. Even small bits of it would help you to have the user curious & interested.

Uses of WordPress Forum

  • Build a Community
    A forum can help you to bring your followers from different networks to a single platform to connect to each other, to swap ideas, and to create meaningful relationships. If done right, then you will end up creating an ambitious & evergrowing community.
  • Influencer
    Contributing to such a community will help you to establish yourself as an Influencer by proving your expertise in the niche. This will help you to grow as an Individual & gain authority in the niche.
  • Problems & Solutions
    The forums can be used as a platform to acknowledge the problems & to brainstorm solutions for it. This will help to bring the contributors & beneficiaries closer to each other & encourages them to be persistent.
  • Visitor Retention
    The forum will give a reason for users to return back to your site & stay longer on your site. This will help you to reduce your bounce rate & also increase your overall returning users.

SEO benefits of a WordPress Forum

  • Reduce Bounce Rate
    Bounce rate refers to the percentage of users who landed on the landing page & left the site without viewing any other page. Forums will help you build topic clusters that will encourage users to navigate through your site & reduce the bounce rate.
  • Increase Returning Users
    You need a strong reason to make users return back to your website and the easiest way to do that is through forums. Users who have engaged with your forum will return back to your forum for updates and they also receive email updates on the topics they have engaged, convincing them to return. Thus, leading to increased returning users.
  • Build Brand
    Forums will help you to increase brand awareness & brand following. Neil Patel in his blog post on Future of SEO talks on how branding helped him increase organic traffic by accident. He also talks on how branding is the future of SEO & how Google is considering branding along with retention as a ranking factor.
  • Increase Page Authority
    Increasing traffic, increasing user retention, increasing returning users, decreasing bounce rate & finally increasing the internal flow of traffic with internal linking will help you to increase DA & PA over time.
  • Increase Dwell Time
    Forums will give your users a reason to stay on the site for a longer period of time. This will help you increase the average session duration of the whole site & even the particular page. This will also give you other tremendous SEO benefits over time.
A community that is built on similar interest, passion or ambition will not only grow by itself but also help you grow along with it.

WordPress Forum Plugin – wpForo | bbPress Alternative

This free WordPress forum plugin with nearly pro features is created by the gVectors team.
Now, when I talk about a free version of forums, don’t imagine the crappy ones that you normally get. This one is fancy and it has all the features that you could possibly expect from a premium version of such.

The gVectors team use their own forum – wpForo to provide support for their users. You can view the forum with all add-ons activated over here. This plugin allows you to create Forums in 3 different layouts.

  • Extended Layout – Classic forum layout showing the recent post extended. More info
  • Simplified Layout –  Modern forum layout showing the topic and author avatars. More info
  • Question and Answer Layout – This layout looks more like a Question & Answers portal. More info

Forum SEO, Style & Responsiveness
This plugin is Mobile friendly and its SEO optimized. It supports only one classic theme with different customizable colour styles, but don’t underestimate its appearance by words. The colour styles will help you to revamp the forum in a way that it matches your website theme and avoids it from being the odd one out.

Forum Users
You can create different user groups and choose what each user group can access. Users can also edit their profile with personal information and build a reputation in the forum by getting rated and receiving badges based on the number of posts.

Our Digital Marketing Forum
Our Digital Marketing Forum is Strictly Moderated – Only SEO | SEM | PPC | SEO Tools | WordPress Topics are Discussed Here. Get your Queries & Problems Resolved Quickly.

Setting up WordPress Forum – wpForo

  • Decide if you want the WordPress forum on a Subdomain or a Subfolder. Think for a long-term.
  • Download wpForo here | Install & Activate it.
  • Go to Forums to create categories or forums. Choose the type of layout & choose the parent if necessary. We use the Extended layout on our Digital Marketing forum. Assign a forum icon & forum slug. Change the forum permissions if necessary. Once everything is set, Publish it!
  • You can sort the order & hierarchy under Forums.
  • Under settings, You need to set the meta tags for the forum. The forum will make use of these meta tags instead of the meta tags assigned by the SEO plugin you use.
  • You can customize the look of your forum under Settings > Styles. It also supports custom CSS.
  • Enable Facebook login by using Facebook API Configuration under Settings > API’s.
  • Use Akismet for Spam protection.
  • You can change the user permissions & user access under Settings > Forum Accesses.

The wpForo has a lot more features to give users a more personalised experience. It’s better if you guys explore them yourself. The more you explore the more you learn.

Next step? Build the Community!

One important lesson I have learned in life is to always have a PURPOSE. Without a clearly defined purpose, anything you do will not exist on a run and will not be persistent.

Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together. Paul Ryan

The whole purpose of a forum is to create a community that contributes & grows together. This will be difficult initially but over time you will make it happen. The forum has to be focused on a particular niche or interest & its main priority should be to convert one-time contributors to dedicated contributors. These dedicated contributors should also share your purpose & work together for the end goal. You can encourage the dedicated contributors by giving them ranks or assigning them roles or perhaps even rewarding them.

Remember, a community will only sustain if it has a purpose or a cause.

Conclusion

There are many ways to build a community apart from setting up a forum. but, this is the easiest way to directly indulge users on your website. The wp-Foro is all that you need to build your community. I remember spending days trying different forum plugins and finally settling down to wp-Foro. It’s an awesome plugin with awesome features. So, don’t forget to give it a try.

If you know any other such plugins then do comment it down below. I love testing & trying new plugins. If you have any suggestions, requests or advice then please do comment.

I would be pleased to hear from you 🙂

He’s a 23yr old pursuing a career in Digital Marketing, WordPress Development, and Graphic Designing. Trying to create a mark for himself in a Dynamic World. Frustrated by blood-sucking guru’s & specialists, he’s on a quest to educate beginners by creating small communities. He likes to spend his free time creating a purpose to make things more productive, playing games, reading articles & stuff that you wouldn’t care to know.

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