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  #1  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 04:26
Toplink Toplink is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Are Forums Dead?

Hi,

This is not meant to be an inflammatory post, but is a serious question.

I've had a forum since 2005, and it's been quite successful in it's niche. But over the last 2 years and last 9 months in particular, it's declined.

Traffic is down, membership has plateaued, adsense revenue is down 70%.

We've had some hacking and server issues that have been resolved. but there is more to it. Something fundamental.

I have a vBulletin developer and an SEO guy checking my site over, to see if we are doing anything wrong.

In the meantime I was doing a bit of general research. It seems many forums are in decline, based on Google updates over the last couple of years.

Many forum owners are spending hundreds of hours fixing up their forums to please Google, all to no avail. (The specifics are all online to be read)

So back to my question. Are Forums dead? Just another Google casualty?

Or are people here still seeming Forum growth in terms of membership, engagement and revenues...

My Forum is very much just a hobby and given that my business keeps me going 80-100 hours a week as it is, I don't really want to invest time and money in trying to revitalise a Forum if Google is intent on burying them...

Your thoughts? Your experiences?
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  #2  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 04:30
Max Taxable's Avatar
Max Taxable Max Taxable is offline
 
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Facebook killed the Forum star.

For now.
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  #3  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 04:52
Toplink Toplink is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Max Taxable View Post
Facebook killed the Forum star.

For now.
I think there is certainly some truth in that. Though Social media does not totally fill the same space as a good Forum IMHO.
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  #4  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 04:54
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BBNZowner BBNZowner is offline
 
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Yup, I'd say it's less Google and more Facebook which is the cause of the decline. Even other social networks sites can't keep up, let alone small forums.

There's still hope. You just have to invest more time and effort into your forum. Far more people are using the internet now - so there is more opportunity to get users. It's just bringing them in and keeping them which is the trickier part.
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  #5  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 06:06
Spangle Spangle is offline
 
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Forum Admins concentrate far too much on pleasing Google, and trying to get their forums SEO perfect.

All that time would be better spent adding content, and by that I don't mean posts, but static content by the use of articles and blog entries, building a reference and content that can be relied on will in the long run do more good for a forum than just trying to get to the top of the rankings for one keyword or phrase.

Facebook does have a lot to do with it, people feel more comfortable talking with "friends" than with complete strangers, imagine you go out to a bar, who do you head for, a group you know, or a group you don't, easy really.
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  #6  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 12:24
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RichieBoy67 RichieBoy67 is offline
 
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It also doesn't help that Google does not consider results in Facebook and Twitter which would help many forums get some of this traffic back.

I think social media has had an impact but all the algo changes have also had a large impact, larger in my opinion. Forums generally are filled with gossip which dilutes the good content you have. Google does not see the good content as it used to do but rather looks at the entire site. Yes it looked at the entire site before but it views keyword density in a different way now.

And also there is much more content out there on "the webs" and more forums which means more competition. We all get a smaller slice of the pie then we did back in 2005.

I agree with the above posted that focusing on seo should not be the only or even the main concern. Content is still king and good content will bring traffic. With forums though traffic is not the only concern. We want forum activity and unfortunately articles do not usually result in tons of forum activity, posting etc but they do get people to your site.

Running a forum is a challenge for sure these days. Hopefully when some start giving up those who stay with it will reap the benefits of those casualties.
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  #7  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 14:14
Dave Dave is offline
 
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Gaming forums are certainly not dead.
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  #8  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 14:36
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RichieBoy67 RichieBoy67 is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Dave View Post
Gaming forums are certainly not dead.
Some are, many actually.
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  #9  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 14:52
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Max Taxable Max Taxable is offline
 
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Ecig and vaping forums are thriving.

Sometimes it can be all about the niche.
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  #10  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 15:04
Spangle Spangle is offline
 
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Originally Posted by RichieBoy67 View Post
It also doesn't help that Google does not consider results in Facebook and Twitter which would help many forums get some of this traffic back.
Thats not strictly true, whilst Google and Facebook had a disagreement which led to Google no longer taking it's traffic into account, Google still does monitor Twitter traffic wise as a popularity parameter.
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  #11  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 15:05
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RichieBoy67 RichieBoy67 is offline
 
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oh yeah, I am not saying all forums are dead... just that it is more challenging now for most. Many are thriving for sure. Mine is doing well also.

--------------- Added 02 Jul 2014 at 11:26 ---------------

Originally Posted by Spangle View Post
Thats not strictly true, whilst Google and Facebook had a disagreement which led to Google no longer taking it's traffic into account, Google still does monitor Twitter traffic wise as a popularity parameter.
That may be true, I would like a source for that info but either way Google does not index links in Twitter or Facebook or use them for ranking keywords, etc..
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Last edited by RichieBoy67; 02 Jul 2014 at 15:37.
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  #12  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 18:40
Dave Dave is offline
 
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Originally Posted by RichieBoy67 View Post
Some are, many actually.
Alright let me rephrase myself, my gaming forum is certainly not dead*
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  #13  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 18:57
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Zachery Zachery is offline
 
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Its harder now than ever to setup a website around a common theme when you have 0 content.

If you want to build an active, successful forum, You need CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT, and then 10x more content.

Things, that people want to read and view.

Eventually, you can hit a critical mass where your forum will sustain itself. reaching critical mass takes SERIOUS hardwork and dedication.
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  #14  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 19:17
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Max Taxable Max Taxable is offline
 
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Content is king.
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  #15  
Old 02 Jul 2014, 20:23
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RichieBoy67 RichieBoy67 is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Zachery View Post
Its harder now than ever to setup a website around a common theme when you have 0 content.

If you want to build an active, successful forum, You need CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT, and then 10x more content.

Things, that people want to read and view.

Eventually, you can hit a critical mass where your forum will sustain itself. reaching critical mass takes SERIOUS hardwork and dedication.
Hitting critical mass is tough and it depends on your members and niche. I sure would like to have that happen! It is great though when members add the content for you. Unfortunately for me my members do not always do so. I am constantly adding articles, event news, etc.
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