SimpleMachines - FINALLY a Community Software to Get Excited About!Written by Toby Wolf
Its been a long time since I have gotten excited about a new CMS or forum software to hit scene. Granted, Mambo was enough to perk my ears up, but jury is still out on that one.
Last week I downloaded SimpleMachines and installed it for a test drive. Four hours later I had replaced 2 PhpBB Forums and 2 InvisionBoard ones with Simple Machines. Within 24 hours I had also set up 2 NEW SimpleMachines sites for a couple of my clients to test drive. Within 48 hours, one of my clients was already sold and we have begun building his entire website around SimpleMachines. It should be obvious to you by now that SimpleMachines is NOT "just another forum software".
I won't go into whole history of SimpleMachines, (though if you are interested, you can read about it in this message thread, but SimpleMachines is brought to you by almost same team of developers who produced YaBBSE. SimpleMacines is a LOT faster, more robust and has a ton more features than YaBBSE. It is truly a piece of software that could, (and is), being used to form backbone of a full-featured online community.
There are many reasons I found SimpleMachines so exicting that I immediately rushed into implementing it and becoming a Charter Member to support development team. (SMF is free and developers assure us it always will be, but Charter Members help defray costs of developers AND provide a whole list of benefits) Part of reason was ease of conversion. I was able to convert both PhpBB and Invision Power Board forums to SimpleMachines in just a few minutes automatically. Part of reason was this incredible Package Manager that is built in to SMF that allows you to browse, download AND install Mods at touch of a button! That's right - even though this software is relatively new, (slightly over a year old & only in release 1.0 RC2), so there are not yet many modules built for it, I was able to install a shoutbox, a buddy list and several other modules instantly!
Make Your Link Exchanges Sticky Content for VisitorsWritten by Toby Wolf
There are a lot of webmasters who spend a substantial amount of time "working" their link exchange program. But very few who realize that a good link exchange program can not only increase your back links and your search engine visibility, it can also be used as a feature to attract and retain visitors. (And visitors I am talking about are NOT just other webmasters who are looking to exchange links!)
It may take a little more work than you are currently investing in links you put up on your site, but its well worth it. We have just begun creating a very dynamic link exchange program for Security Resources Inc., and within just a few weeks, not only has entire links directory been spidered by Google, Yahoo, MSN and others, it is averaging 20 visitors a day. And over half of those visitors actually click through to Security Resources online store.
I can almost hear you thinking, "20 visitors? Thats ALL? Big deal!" Ah but it is a big deal when you consider that Security Resources Links Directory contains fewer than 100 links, (so far), and that 99% of these visitors are drawn to site BECAUSE of link directory, and that 95% of them are NOT other webmasters just looking for a place to exchange links. Add to that a whopping 26% of visitors have added Links Directory as a bookmarked favorite! If our results of a similar link exchange directory at Webs 4 Christ are an indicator, it would be safe to predict that Security Resources Directory will be averaging well over 100 visitors a day within next 30-60 days. How many of those will turn into buying customers? Perhaps only 1 percent - but that alone would be 30 additional sales per month!