Forums with Main Page Ė SEO & Visitors Friendly
Why having a simple html main page for your forum instead of the forum page is good?
Ok, what I meant for a simple static html main page is the page which is on your top level domain and with a link to your forum. For example, your forum is at http://www.mysite.com/forums and so the html main page will be at http://www.mysite.com with a big, very visible link to http://www.mysite.com/forums
The main page should have a few images (small in size and related to your forum) to make it look presentable, the fonts and colors should also be very close to your forum and the main links (make them big and visible) should be to your forum along with a link to a gallery/online store/directory/detail page. They should not have lots of scripts (unless necessary) and other nonsense. The main keyword here is simple.
Why you ask? Read below then.
Everyone hates waiting for a slow page to load, but when your html page is light and fast and not loaded with unnecessary scripts and images, you will not face this problem here. And for the first time visitor, this is important. Even repeat visitors hate the waiting time. Now with so many websites and forums out there, how many of us click on the stop button on our browsers when the page doesnít show fast and we move on to the next site or forum?
And not forgetting, these are very static pages, which doesnít take up a lot of server resources, a good point if you want your pages to load up fast.
Explains to your visitors what your forum is about
Have you done a search about something and was directed to a forum, but you have no idea what the forum is about? A lot of forums donít give a description about the site, only the title. Having a main page to tell your visitors what your forum is about makes your forum less confusing and thus more appealing and interesting to viewers.
Of course, it is a bit troublesome for the visitor to have to click one more time to access your forums. But for the repeat visitors, they can just bookmark your forum page or just use the browserís URL history to access your forum directly.
Easy to edit and modify
Having a single static html page, you can edit or add meta tags as you wish. Meta descriptions or keywords can added or editing easily without going a deep subdirectory to search for the template of your forum. Adding links and advertisements is also much easier, since basically your main page is html. Want to add alt for your main page images or bold your keywords or title or even change your images titles for SEO? Heck, you want to add h1 and h2 tags? No problem. These are all easily done with a text editor and the file you need to edit is index.htm and the location is at the html root of your web server.
How about when you need to add a link at your footer to the directory which requires a reciprocal back-link? Or deleting off the link that has been banned by Google?
Having a html page also allows you to design your page as you see fit. Although it depends on your html coding & graphics skills, you are not constrained by your forumís templates and theme design and you can organize it in such a way that you can easily edit or modify the code.
And yes, html is very Search Engine friendly. Just donít use frames, use CSS.
And please remember that your forum script itself must be optimized for Search Engines as well.
Allows you to have other content/sections
A forum can never beat a normal website for content, so adding something else can help generate interest for you forum, like a gallery or an online store or a blog or even an article directory. I feel that a forum alone can never generate enough buzz to make members keep coming back or even get members to signup. Even forum scripts nowadays have mods which add in a portal or a gallery or a directory because of this sad fact. But they too suffer from the same problem, difficult to edit and they are not Search Engine Friendly as html.
Giving your first time visitor an option to choose which section of your site to go helps make them think of what is in that link other than your forum. It will make your forum more appealing. However, you should make sure that the content is relevant to your forum or it might just drive traffic away from your forum.
About the Author: Ong Boon Leong is the admin of Simple Sites (http://www.simpleboards.org) a forum promoting the use of basic layouts & styles to create elegant & stylish websites.