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The future or fall of forums

phreakphreak Vanilla*APP (White Label) & Vanilla*Skins Shop MVP
edited January 2013 in General Banter

Hi everbody,

I recently had a discussion with a profound webworker running several portals. We discussed the issue if forums will be as stable in search engines as they behaved in the past and if they are still a good choice if you're trying to build a sustainable community you can run a company on.

His point was that with the integration of the Google Groups in Google+ and with Google+ in general as a social space, Google is on the edge of ranking forums down in search engines within the next 1-3 years. He argued that this happened to several verticla services in the past. First directories, then rating portals, then pricefinder websites and so on. His opinion was to never build something Google also offers. Do something completely different.

I kind a understand that arguement and they downturn may have been already startet. Forums do not rank high on certain keywords, just the long tail helps you get found in the net. But what if Google kills your long tail? You could certainly use new registration...

So do the workload of running a forum really pay off in the long term?

Will Google set our forum 50+ ranks down after 2013? ;)

Would love to hear your opinion (might be better than the bläh Vanilla blog.) ;)

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  • Google does not see sites as forums or pricefinders. It works out the relevance of the content. it is all down tot he quality of the content. In forums that includes a behavioural aspect as well, becuase you want your user to produce relevant content.

    The reason why price finder websites were down rated is becuase traditionally relied on scraping content. Panda, made this strategy a painful one becuase it is not original content, it is just vomited up duplicate content. Quality price finder site were not affected becuase they did original research and their own reviews, this is more useful to web users.

    Directories, ratings portals, are the sort of content farming google hates. There is nothing to fear if you have a quality rating site with good quality content. There is noting to fear if you director provides a new type of insight, an is providing something different then just a link collection.

    Google's strategy is based primarily on the relevance of the search results, therefore their algorithms are tweaked so

    Google groups/Google + is much more focused on google's social networking ambitions. In fact on its own it is a rather poor example of how to do it in term of search ranking. They aren't remotely threatened by niche forums.

    grep is your friend.

  • In short forums are not made equally. You need to work to make you forum more useful and relevant.

    The death of forums would be something better. Also people have to be ready for it. I mean email is a redundant technology from the 60's and people are still using it.

    grep is your friend.

  • I agree with everything @x00 said above. I would like to add that the future in forums is in increasing the quality and relevance of the content posted. User interface improvements and gamification will be a big part of this, as Stack Overflow has demonstrated with remarkable results thus far.

  • Stack overflow is a successful strategy, but vote ordered forums, can be confusing for some audiences. It is important to know your user base, if they can cope with something like that. SEO should never be at the expense of usability.

    grep is your friend.

  • @x00 said:
    Stack overflow is a successful strategy, but vote ordered forums, can be confusing for some audiences. It is important to know your user base, if they can cope with something like that. SEO should never be at the expense of usability.

    When I refer to stack overflow I mean that some of their key paradigms can be used with other communities. I don't mean that forums will become Stack Overflow clones. And I agreed with you right up to "SEO should never be at the expense of usability". SO is in the cutting edge user interface design. It's all about usability. Again, just taking the fundamentals of what they are doing and apply it to forums is my suggestion, not cloning their site and making it a forum.

  • x00x00 MVP
    edited January 2013

    I'm simply saying the some audiences find vote ordered content confusing.

    Actually how SO, does the interface makes it less confusing in that context. What they are about is producing quality answers to technical questions.

    In areas where is it more subjective discussions, where there are no definitive answers it is not such a good fit.

    grep is your friend.

  • What I'm trying to say is..... I'm not talking about the question-answer format. I'm saying that some of their underlying principles - modern UI design and effective gamification techniques that entice users to contribute high-quality content are techniques that will be applied to forums to make them competitive for years to come.

  • Sure, and it is very much focused on their aims.

    grep is your friend.

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