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General Topic or Subject Specific

Discussion in 'Forums' started by toradrake, Nov 14, 2014.

  1. toradrake Member


    Which do you prefer? I tend to go to Subject Specific forums, but I have noticed that a lot of these forums are beginning to include general topics that do not coincide with the subject of the site. I see the appeal for generalized forums because they provide a variety of topics to talk about in one place, but subject specific forums are easier to circumnavigate as far as information goes when trying to locate something.

    What is your take on it?

  2. Converse Active Member


    General topic areas can serve as a place for people who have already gotten to know one another through the topic-specific part of the forum to discuss off-topic stuff, but the off-topic area shouldn't become the focus of the forum.

  3. calebmelvern New Member


    I tend to like niche-specific forums a lot more. When I visit a forum for the first time, I scroll through the list of topics and when I see that it focuses on a certain theme, that forum is for keeps.

  4. Shamzblueworld New Member


    I also prefer a subject specific forum but with a general discussions section too, I currently have a general forum which I want to turn into a niche specific one, but just pondering upon the different niches as of yet.

  5. Jade New Member


    I like to write in both, sometimes I get tired of writing about one specific topic. I like to write about a variety of different topics and I love creating new topics as well. There are lots of interesting things in the off topic sections in forums, so for some people it can be easier to write and put in their thoughts about the topic. If it's something that I love to talk about in a forum like shopping, then I will be in there all day writing about shopping and shoes. At the end of the day, as long as someone is giving value input that is grammatically correct that is what's important to me.

  6. SadieMarie New Member


    I write in both different forums. I find something that I am interested in and search around. I jump around to different topics and forums. I can't say that I really prefer one over the other at all.

  7. xTinx New Member


    It depends on the subject really. There are specific subjects I'm comfortable discussing because I've been exposed to them beforehand. Having acquired a degree of knowledge on such subjects, I can confidently share my thoughts and opinions. Generic topics are a breath of fresh air from more technical topics, so when I need a breather from too much technicality, I spend some time in general forums.

  8. SimplySidy Member


    The big drawback of forums like ours here, is - it is too narrow in niche - and not to mention, the "Directory thing is believed by many to be dead and stale". So today's generation - knows quite limited things and that too is plagued by negative vibes (about directories) around. Hence, as one can see, we are a smaller community at the moment.

    I cite the case of WDF as this is what happens with many other forums - selection of a very narrow and specific niche - The major problem is - finding new members, keeping them engaged and interested - for at least a while - such that newer members join in and the forum grows bigger.

    Personally, the only forum I had was about HTML and CSS. Later I introduced PHP too. The only aim was - I wanted my students to get into the habit of discussing out their issues and finding solutions to their problems amongst them. It was during 2006-07 and it was starting to get better when I fell ill (2008) and was on bed. When I started again, it was all gone. This was a niche - website development - but a broader niche. If it would have been still online, I might have added newer sections like jQuery, PHP vairants and what not. But this was a running, flourishing project those days. Hence, it stood a higher chance of success and survival.

    Unfortunately, many of today's forums - the ones which select a broader niche - have too much of competition - there is almost so many other places talking about the same thing - this makes the initial survival much more difficult and again, no one trusts new websites unless they have good number of interesting stuff on board or they are recommended to join by friends.

    In my personal opinion - Niche matters. Broader is better in short term, but Narrower niche is always good in the long run. You may have lesser number of active users, but the content is mostly worthy and I vouch for healthy content - seeing this, maybe some more would join in and keep the things moving.

    Converse likes this.
  9. Converse Active Member


    Good points. One of the purposes of this forum, as I see it, as well as my other sites, is to reach out to those whose only reason for believing that directories are bad for SEO is that they have read it on another forum, or in a tweet. I don't like to say never, but I seldom read a post by someone who is insisting that web directories are dead, or that Google penalizes sites that are listed in web directories, where the person offers any evidence of this. Instead, they are flat statements. I don't know how many of you visit Digital Point but I am there quite a bit, and it doesn't matter if I have posted ten paragraphs supporting what I know, which is that only bad directories are bad SEO, they will come back instead with a blanket statement. Eventually, the thread is buried in blanket statements from people who think that they are being wise, but who are simply repeating things that they read somewhere.

    I know for a fact that good web directories are good placements for sites because, between my wife and I, we have about a hundred and fifty sites that are doing well, and which would be doing even better if we could afford the submission costs of submitting to even more of the several good web directories out there.

    I plug my stuff on Facebook and on Twitter, the former because I am there a lot anyhow, and the latter because I can at least get people to click on my site through tweets, but I don't view either of these forms of social media as helping to build up anything resembling long-term traffic to my sites. Some people have linked to my sites because they have good content that complements their own site but, other than directory submissions, I don't have any concerted link-building strategy that I use for my own sites, yet even ones that I have barely even tried to market are doing well in the SERPs and are getting traffic, and this includes some sites that are in some pretty crappy directories, as I tried that a couple of years ago just to see if it would hurt. It didn't hurt, although I don't think that submitting your sites to crappy directories helps, and may have the potential of hurting, so I wouldn't recommend it.

    We have an SEO contract that pays us $1,500 a month. For clients, I do use other link-building strategies as well a more concerted social media campaign, because they expect it, but I also submit to web directories because it works, and it makes sense to do things that work.

    There are two reasons why you are seeing so many one-liners about web directories being dead, or about web directories being harmful to your site's placement in the SERPs. One of them is that webmasters don't need to hire these self-proclaimed SEO gurus in order to submit their sites to web directories, and many potential clients will find that they are getting all the traffic they need through a combination of good content and web directory submissions. Any webmaster who is able to provide worthwhile content is in a better position to submit his or her own site to web directories, and that leaves the SEO scammers out of the loop.

    The second reason that you see so many of these one-line posts is that stupid people can deceive themselves into thinking that they are wise when they repeat this nonsense.

    That is one of the reasons why this forum exists, and why I'd like it to focus more on web directories, this being a place where web directory owners and editors might be able to get together and share information, such as the one that exists here about Brilliant Directories. Many of you weren't here, but there was a very good discussion of that in our last forum, and some discussion of it here in this forum.

    Web directories don't exist in a vacuum, so topics such as search engine optimization, web design, and some of the other issues that we discuss here are related, and may serve to bring people into the forum who would otherwise not join a web directory forum.

    The purpose is lost though, if we forget to include web directories in our discussion.

    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014
    SimplySidy likes this.
  10. Mockingbird New Member


    I always did, sometimes I submitted to directories one at a time they would have a form or you would email, sometimes I used submission software it was convenient. Then what started to happen was there would be a glut of poor directories well that's what they called themselves anyway, but really they were just UN-organized lists with a good splash of ads surrounding them. Then all of a sudden index position mattered by related keyword(s) and the meta tagging boat was boarding. The quality of good written content went right down hill because the only think that mattered was that you worked that keyword in a thousand times.

  11. Rainman New Member


    It's better to focus on a specific topic because it's easier to monetize a site/forum which focuses solely on a specific topic. Take the example of an internet marketing forum. Users who visit the site want to learn about IM. It would be pretty easy for you to sell them IM-related products.

    That doesn't mean you shouldn't have a special section where members can discuss anything else. You can make it easier for forum users to find what they are looking for if you have an off-topic section, preferably at the bottom of the page. Some webmasters opt to tell search engines not to index the contents of that section [which is good for SEO].

  12. Billy New Member


    I think that it would be better to think broader. Depending on the niche, it can be easily for a forum to run out of things to say about a certain topic, it's always best to keep it broad. Take an Internet marketing forum for example, with that type of forum you can deal with:

    1) marketing
    2) seo
    3) social media
    4) offline stuff
    5) email marketing


  13. SimplySidy Member


    I might sound lame here, but, I have a question -
    In this scenario, doing the SEO part for the organic search results, wont it be difficult? I mean, I have a (mis) perception that if the niche is narrower, there is a better chance of focusing on the keywords and ranking on them ?

  14. Mockingbird New Member


    I think I am following you here sidy, I would think that doing things like Billy suggested would really dilute the strength of your keywords. <aybe because of the "words" he chose? For example if it was gardening forum or blog and the words were more like-
    Organic Gardening
    Container Gardening
    Vegtable Gardening... etc

    I would think that might be more optimized for keywords. Not that you should repeat the same keyword every third word, but you will get sufficient saturation if you think out your content adjective wise. Granted you want to make the user come back, but I think more important then many users is relevant users. Let the ones that come back be more qualified as a potential conversion. Hard to do if your "gardening" blog and Forum is talking about football.

    SimplySidy likes this.
  15. Converse Active Member


    If we're talking specifically about a forum, one important thing to keep in mind is that people are unlikely to join in on a conversation that isn't going on. I'd like to focus more closely on web directories here, but until I have more people here who are knowledgeable about web directories, I'd be left talking to myself much of the time.

    Even in a niche directory, new visitors are unlikely to join or to participate unless there are already people doing so, and a few posts a day isn't enough for most people. After checking in on the forum a few times and finding nothing new, it eventually loses its place in their consciousness.

    It's a fine line to walk, however. Some of you are not interested in web directories, but post in these areas once in awhile just to humor me. Others may be able to develop an interest, but are lacking the experience or knowledge to post much on the subject.

    Even if everyone here were involved in the web directory industry in some way, there would still be some discussion of some of the external topics we have here, such as search engines, marketing, and design. So I try to steer the conversation to web directories as much as I can, without derailing conversations, and hope that we get more web directory people here soon.

    Before I had to re-start the forum, there were more web directory people involved. Some of them were, no doubt, irritated because nearly two years of stuff was lost, others may have preferred the old forum setup, and still others may have simply lost track of the forum during the week or so that it took me to get it re-started. A couple of directory operators have signed in during the last few days, although they haven't introduced themselves yet, so I think we'll get there eventually.

    I am bringing this up in order to make the point that if a forum is too tightly focused, or the niche too small, there may not be enough activity to keep people interested and coming back.

    That principle applies in other situations as well. Years ago, I was hired to manage an all-volunteer ambulance service. The idea that they had was that since these people were volunteering their time, they didn't want to work them too hard, so its service area was restricted to the one small city where it was based.

    Noting that paramedics from my town were volunteering or taking part-time jobs with larger companies surrounding us, it became clear that we simply didn't have enough emergencies coming in to keep people interested. I had a hard time persuading the board to let me bid on contracts with two surrounding towns, and for a portion of the county that we were closest to, because they thought that people were volunteering just so that they could provide the service to their own city.

    In reality, people were going through the training, and becoming licensed as EMTs and paramedics, because they enjoyed responding to emergencies, and they didn't want to sit around for a week waiting for an emergency in our town.

    One of the contracts we got was for a retirement community a few miles from our station, which brought in calls for heart attacks, strokes, falls, and that sort of thing. Then another retirement community, and finally, an INS detention center not far from us.

    As an EMS instructor, I began holding classes through the local community college in our town, and soon we had people coming in from the towns around us, taking classes, and volunteering with us. Rather than going home until a call came in, we had a crew at the station waiting for the next call, and another crew lined up to cover them whenever they went out on a call.

    At some point, of course, it was time to quit the expansion because we were a mostly rural volunteer ambulance company, and we didn't want to lose that, but it was necessary to do some expansion in order to bring in another activity to keep people interested.

    I think that applies here as well. I don't want to generalize so much that this becomes just another webmaster or SEO forum, as there are plenty of them, as it is. But people who are involved in the web directory industry do have an interest in some of these other areas as well, so perhaps it makes sense to make a place for it.

    My chief interest is in web directories (just as my main concern with the ambulance company was providing excellent service to our town) but there seems to be a need to expand the topics somewhat.

  16. Billy New Member


    I'm confused. I was talking about the forum categories. Or did I misread the question?

  17. Converse Active Member


    I'm not speaking for Sid, but the same concerns exist for a forum as for any other site. I would like this forum to rank well for web directories, which doesn't mean that I mind if it ranks for other things as well, but there is a fine line where too much confuses the search engines as to what the site is about.

    Billy likes this.
  18. Billy New Member


    But, the broader the niche is, the more potential there is for more members. I haven't done any SEO for a forum, so I cannot comment on any experiences there, I've only done SEO for websites. If I had a broad category, let's say something like weight loss, I would have certain pages for certain sub-niches, like exercise, supplements, etc. Can a forum's categories not be broken down the same way, or am I more tired than I thought I was, and I'm not making any sense?

  19. Mockingbird New Member


    I think it can billy and in fact think it is a step in the right marketing direction, although hard to do, it is wise. You can develop sub niches on a broad topic easily the hard part (Like Converse said) is keeping people from diverging onto other topics or failing to contribute anything of relevance at all. That does not help with ranking. You can however plant plenty of SEO rich things to help, you just have to keep plugging at it.

    This is how I realized forums were powerful now, more so then years ago. In my own experience I tend to search for things in a weird way, I use Boolean phrases. There was a time way back in the days of yore when that was about the only way you could find things of relevancy. The web was still a baby and not nearly as smart as today plus all topics were not as indexed as they are now. Well I have noticed that searching this way brings up plenty of forum results. I ask questions in search engines all the time now, sometimes just for the fun because I am curious. You can get some really crazy stuff with most of it being pretty relevant (although perhaps not factual or not quite what I want to know)

  20. SimplySidy Member


    Yup. I did understand that you were referring to having a broader niche and maybe more related categories on the board. :)

    What I was asking was - When we talk of a blog for instance (as this is the closest anything else on internet can get to a forum - going by different topics to cover) - we always are told (and also we do read) - stick to one particular subject on the blog. For instance, if you are on a Real Estate in Florida Blog, keep everything related to this. It helps in optimizing for the keywords.

    The above also implies, somewhere, that confining to a niche - preferably a narrower one - makes it easy to Optimize the site with the relevant keywords.

    So the question I had in mind was - in case of forums with broader niches - doesn't it get difficult with the Keyword thing and hence the SEO optimization part ?

    I definitely agree with this - the broader the niche - the more potential you have for members. But this too poses another question - if your niche is something really good, it will gain more visitors. If it is something common out there (as for instance - WebMaster kind of Forums which do not provide anything extra) - chances of competition are too high and unless you have anything really surprising to offer, you might not have too many members.


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