Forums – Should You Have Them On Your Website?

Written by Anne Moss

Forums have become a common feature in many websites. With good free scripts available, and paid scripts being relatively cheap, it seems that every new website has its own forum(s). But is it wise to add forums to your website?

In this article I'd like to take a look atrepparttar pros and cons of adding forums to your website. The largest of my websites, boasts one ofrepparttar 131693 largest online forums on pet related subjects. In fact I have yet to see a larger forum dealing with pets. As ofrepparttar 131694 writing of this article (Summer 2004), we have over 7,000 members and nearly half a million posts. Inrepparttar 131695 past four years I have struggled withrepparttar 131696 hardships of community management and learned what works and what doesn't. Let me share a few insights that may help you decide if you want to takerepparttar 131697 forums path yourself.

The Pro Side ofrepparttar 131698 Equation…

Forums Generate Content

Large, active forums generate content for your website. Google now has literally tens of thousands of pages indexed for's forums, and people looking for some ofrepparttar 131699 more esoteric subjects related to cat health and cat behavior are very likely to meet one of our forum pages in their search results.

Forums Make People Return to Your Website

Forums are truly a "sticky" element. Most people come back, at least to check on developments on their threads. With a good community, you get some real addicts who have to get their daily fix.'s forums run on Vbulletin Forums , which means members can opt to receive an email whenever someone replies to their thread. Most people use it and that little email sends them right back torepparttar 131700 forums…

Forums Create a Sense of Community

Reaching from behind their computer screens, people from all overrepparttar 131701 world join together, get to know each other and create a community. This is actually happening! Members connect with each other, offering support in time of needs and some of them even meeting each other in real life. For you asrepparttar 131702 webmaster, this means loyal visitors that keep coming back to a place they consider to be home.

And Now To The Cons

Forums Can Take a Lot of Time to Take Offrepparttar 131703 Ground

I remember how I could feel my posts echoing inrepparttar 131704 empty board four years ago… It can take a long time before your forums pick up. An empty forum can actually drive new visitors away. It's a vicious circle – when they see that no one else is posting, they don't post themselves, and move on torepparttar 131705 next website. It can take weeks and even months of hard work to get your forums offrepparttar 131706 ground.

Forums Need A Lot Of Ongoing Management

You need to constantly monitor your forums to make sure that they are clean of spam, troll posts, and just keep everything where it belongs. Once your forums are large enough, you have to have a team of quality moderators to help you runrepparttar 131707 place -repparttar 131708 task being too time-consuming for one person. This isrepparttar 131709 place in this article to say "hi!" to any TCS team members reading this – thank you guys – you'rerepparttar 131710 ones that make it all happen!

There's Gold in Your Website's Server Log

Written by Stephen Bucaro

---------------------------------------------------------- Permission is granted forrepparttar below article to forward, reprint, distribute, use for ezine, newsletter, website, offer as free bonus or part of a product for sale as long as no changes are made andrepparttar 131691 byline, copyright, andrepparttar 131692 resource box below is included. ----------------------------------------------------------

There's Gold in Your Website's Server Log

By Stephen Bucaro

Many Webmasters have never bothered to view their website's server log. Ignoring your server log is like flying with a blind pilot. You may still be cruising along, but you have no idea where you are or where you're headed. If your website is on a free host, you probably don't have access torepparttar 131693 server log. However, if you pay for your web host, or if you ownrepparttar 131694 server, you almost always have some access torepparttar 131695 server log.

In this article, you'll learn what kind of information a typical server log provides, how to analyze that information, and how to use that information to steer your website in a direction for growth and success.

The actual data inrepparttar 131696 server log is just that, data. Data is of little use without an application to compile, categorize, analyze, and turn it into useful information. The power of server log analysis software varies depending uponrepparttar 131697 web host, and it's not related to how much you pay for hosting service. I have seen some very low budget web hosts with powerful server log analysis software, and some expensive web hosts that provide only a limited utility.

The importance ofrepparttar 131698 server log analysis software is second only to up-time reliabilty when it comes to web hosts. A web server log can tell you who is visiting your web site, where they're coming from, what operating system and web browser they're using, what pages of your website they are viewing, and much more. A smart webmaster performs a regular monthly analysis ofrepparttar 131699 valuable information contained inrepparttar 131700 server log.


Some webmasters brag aboutrepparttar 131701 number of "hits" their website receives, but hits themselves are not important. For example, when a search engine spiders your website, it generates a hit for every page it visits. There are ways to generate millions of hits on a website without anyone ever actually viewing a single page.

The important statistics are "page view hits" and "unique visitors". Server log analysis software should tell you how many times each page was viewed. Anaylyzingrepparttar 131702 popularity of individual pages tells you where to place your most important advertisements, and what kind of new content you should add to your website.

The king of all statistics isrepparttar 131703 number of unique visitors your web site receives. When it comes to selling advertising or joiningrepparttar 131704 most exclusive affiliate programs, a high number of unique visitors each month isrepparttar 131705 statistic that gets respect.

Good analysis software will tell you how many pages each visitor viewed and how long they stayed on your website. The goal is to develop content that gets your visitors to stay longer, a quality sometimes referred to as "stickiness".

A statistic related to hits is "bandwidth". This is a complicated statistic because you want more visitors and that causes bandwidth to go up. Onrepparttar 131706 other hand, high bandwidth consumption makes your website repond slower (and most web hosts charge extra for bandwidth beyond a certain limit). What you want is to design your web pages so they use bandwidth efficiently, and you want to be onrepparttar 131707 lookout for people who are stealing your bandwidth (usually by linking to images on your web site).


Good server log analysis software will provide you withrepparttar 131708 URLs ofrepparttar 131709 webpages that people clicked on to get to your website. This is extremely valuable information. If you are receiving a high volume of traffic from another website, you can almost consider that website to be your business partner. It would be to your advantage to find ways to make your website more useful torepparttar 131710 referring website. For example, learn whatrepparttar 131711 topic ofrepparttar 131712 referring website is and place more related content on your website.

One common method of aiding referrers is to place a reciprocal link on your website. However, don't bother placingrepparttar 131713 reciprocal link on a "links" page with hundreds of other links (a link farm). If you can't provide an honest reciprocal link, it's better to do nothing. An honest reciprocal link might be a page containing a review ofrepparttar 131714 referrer's website, and that page should contain only a few other links.

Search Strings

Good server log analysis software will provide you withrepparttar 131715 keywords and search strings people entered at a search site to find your website. One way to get more traffic to your website is to provide more content related torepparttar 131716 top keywords. If getting more traffic is your single goal, there are websites that will provide you with a list ofrepparttar 131717 current most popular keywords entered into search engines. Then you can provide more content related to those keywords. This gets involved withrepparttar 131718 subject of "Search Engine Optimization" (SEO).

SEO is a science in itself, covered in other articles, but I will reveal a secret trick as an example of SEO tactics. Starting with a top keyword, generate every possible misspelling of that keyword and place those atrepparttar 131719 top of your webpage withrepparttar 131720 text colorrepparttar 131721 same asrepparttar 131722 webpage background. (Note: I don't use that trick or any other SEO tricks myself because if you get caughtrepparttar 131723 search engines will penalize your website.)

Platform and User Agent Good server log analysis software will tell you which operating systems and which browser brands and versions people are using to access your website. Atrepparttar 131724 time of this writing,repparttar 131725 most common operating system is Windows XP andrepparttar 131726 most common browser is Internet Explorer version 6. However, you will find a wide range of operating systems and browsers accessing you website. Unfortunately, they are not all compatible.

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