Online forums are now a common feature on the Internet. Some websites have even broken the traditional definitions of a website and feature only forum, where the main index page is a list of forums and active discussions. These websites offer content not in the traditional form of static webpages but dynamic user submitted posts and content. With an active community continuously contributing to the content of the website, the website develops into popular place for the latest news and acts as a grapevine for forum members.
In addition to participating on forums and gaining new knowledge from other members, forums are an excellent place to promote your websites. This is done through the forum signatures that most forums will allow each member to have. These forum signatures are automatically attached into the post made by the member. Forum signatures have traditionally been used in mails and then in electronic mails and then in bulletin-board/newsgroups discussions. It is no surprise that the signature system also progressed into the online forum and is widely supported by popular forum software such as VBulletin, phpbb, Invisionboard, etc.
Your forum signature can be a useful tool to do a bit of advertising for your website and products. Most forums will have some regulations on forum signature lengths or forum signature formatting. Common forum signature formats that are approved by mature forums are text-only forum signatures and specifying a maximum of number of lines in the forum signature. Always abide by the forum rules and especially in the forum signature rules as many forums are particular about members not joining their forums for the specific purpose of spamming their links through their forum signatures or posts.
So, as a contributing member to the forum discussions, you have the priviledges of including your forum signature in your posts. How do you ensure that your forum signature is read and not ignored like the tens of forum signatures of the other members who have posted in the same discussion? How do you use your forum signature for maximum benefit?
Here are some tips for optimizing forum sigatures:
1. Do not post more than 3 links. Anything more than that is certaintly viewed as spam and most people will ignore your forum signature.
2. Do not post something like: " http://www.buildtolearn.com - Webmaster community ". Instead, if possible, post your link with "anchor text". The word webmaster community should be the link enclosed by the < a href > tags. This would benefit your link in SEO.
3. Include more than just a link. Be more descriptive around your forum signature and links. For example, use something like "Over 10,000 members in the best webmaster community" (with link from the keyword 'webmaster community'). Or something to entice the viewer to click through to your website, eg. "Submit articles to our article library and stand to win $100".
4. Use at most 3 colors in your forum signature. It is a good idea to highlight the keyword/link with color such as blue or red. Leave the rest of the text in black.
It takes some experimenting to find the best forum signature format for each forum. With these 4 tips in mind, your chances of improving click-through rates from your forum signature will increase tremendously.
About the author: Dax Christopher maintains a two year old webmaster community at http://www.Buildtolearn.com a forum community that discusses web-hosting and webmaster related issues such as web-design, page coding, SEO and many others.