A forum that is search engine optimized will bring more traffic to your forum and your website. Search engine optimization (SEO) basically makes it easier for search engines and people to find you. The forum or message board, and its individual sections, threads and posts, can all be optimized with keywords and phrases just as your web pages are SEO-empowered.
Optimizing the forum to improve your overall SEO efforts is accomplished through a multi-pronged strategy. The first and most important is good content in the forum. Good, high quality content on forums, message boards and the website itself are mandatory to attract and retain internet traffic and convert them to buyers or readers.
The strategy should also include embedding appropriate keywords and meta tags for all pages, including the forum and message board and all threads within the forums. Instead of vague terms as titles for forum threads, use keyword specific titles that are search engine-friendly. How is a search engine to know you have a 52 post thread on Hawaiian luaus exploding with quality content and must-know information if the title reads, “Let’s Dance”? Imagine if Rebecca in Long Island desperately needs to find information on the topic exactly like yours but she has no clue you exist. Whatever will she do? Most likely she will use the search engine to look up “Hawaiian luaus.” If your thread topic is “Hawaiian luaus” and the meta tags match, and the topic title is repeated throughout the 52 posts in the threads, most likely she will find your good content on page one of a search. “Eureka!” she exclaims, and so do you.
Threads are conversations between members of your forum or bulletin board, but they are also invaluable internet real estate and advertising space. Embedding links to videos helps content go “viral” or get passed around to others on the Internet. High quality content, rich with video links and good graphics, will get linked to far more than uninteresting or unappealing content. Make it sizzle and encourage sharing by giving people what they want and need.
Building SEO into your threads and pages is done with the specific aim, of course, to drive traffic to your website, which in turn will increase sales. But it also helps the people who need this information find you easier.
John Rampton's “SEO Guide for Forum Owners: Dos and Don’ts,” has a lot of helpful hints.
“Googlebot processes each of the pages it crawls in order to compile a massive index of all the words it sees and their location on each page. In addition, we process information included in key content tags and attributes, such as Title tags and ALT attributes.”
Make sure that you interlink within threads in the forum / bulletin board / message board to other pages of your own website. Sprinkle these throughout the forum threads. Interlinking between your own web pages as well as linking to relevant authoritative outside websites can help increase ranking, traffic, views and ultimately sales and participation.