Before social media, there were internet forums. In the early days of the internet, most online interactions between users happened on dedicated forums and niche interest boards. Nowadays, a lot has changed. With dedicated social media and diversified site content, the ability to communicate with others online has rapidly evolved and grown. But forums still have a use, even in a post-Facebook world. Users still have a desire for dedicated discussions around specific products, hobbies, topics, etc. Forums’ continued relevance is also very good news for you as a site owner.
By adding a forum to your site, you are potentially doing a lot for your site with minimal effort. Forums inherently improve your user engagement, which in turn does wonders for your site’s presence and overall success. Plus, with WordPress, adding a forum is as simple as setting up any other plugin. In just a few steps, you can give users a new way to use your site while generating content at no cost to you. So first, let’s take a deeper look at how forums improve your site’s potential. Use the table of contents to jump ahead to what’s most important to you.
Table of Contents
Why Should I Add a Forum to My WordPress Website?
No matter type of site you have, forums are an easy way to improve engagement, site traffic, and SEO.
You might think of forums as something which only exist for niche markets, online communities, or hobbyists. But in reality, any site can benefit from an integrated forum. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that forums are universally beneficial.
When you create a forum, you aren’t just giving users a platform to communicate with each other. You are also giving yourself a direct line to communicate with users yourself. For business sites, this makes for an easy, public resource for support teams and encourages discussion of your brand or products. For personal sites and blogs, users respond well to direct engagement with site authors. Either way, you give users a sense of community and involvement. In addition, creating a forum account instills a sense of investment in your users, which will keep them coming back.
2. Site traffic
Engagement and site traffic go hand-in-hand. If users are engaging with site content you will see the results in increased visitors over time. This comes not just from recurring visitors, but also from new ones who might see this new avenue into your site. Since expanding your site in any significant way increases your online presence, it also increases the likelihood of it appearing in searches or on sharing platforms and social media. This is especially true for content that is already community-driven. This, in turn, can also improve your site’s overall SEO.
While increased traffic is a practical result, search engine optimization is the primary method for obtaining it. Other than simple exposure and sharing, SEO is what will truly drive a site’s growth and success. Essentially, when you add a forum to your site, you invite users to talk about your brand and your products for you, without any input on your part. Essentially, your visitors are producing content for your site, which gives it that increased presence in search engines. In addition, users looking for support and talking about relevant topics will create discussions that are search engine friendly already. How many times have you Googled a question about a product and the answer you found was in a support form? Almost always!
With all of these advantages in mind, you’re probably wondering how you can go about adding a forum to your site. Luckily, WordPress makes this next part easy. Plus, with WordPress, you can track SEO, traffic, and other site stats to see how a forum can improve your site over time!
Preparing to Add a Forum to WordPress Sites
There are a couple of steps you will need to take before you take advantage of WordPress forums.
There’s a good chance that, after adding a website forum, you’ll need a new web host. Not every host is ideal for handling the traffic that a forum can generate, especially if you’re using free hosting. However, there are other options out there. You can find plenty of great hosting that won’t break the bank. WP Super Host has plenty of great pricing options, including custom quotes- which are especially useful for businesses on a budget. But great pricing isn’t the only thing that makes this an ideal option for hosting your new forum. With WP Super Host, you also get reliable servers, the best security for your site and its users, and- of course- the speed and space you need for all of your site’s data. Check out the pricing page to start comparing plans today.
Once you do select the right web host for your forum, you’ll also need to consider site migration. Here, WP Super Host also has you covered.
WordPress is, by far, the easiest system for adding new functions to your site, including forums. As such, even if you already have a site, you might need to migrate your site to a server that supports WordPress. Plus, even if your server does support WordPress, it’s always worth considering a new host when you add new site functionality. You’ll especially want to consider it when adding something like a forum, which needs to support a whole community of users in the most efficient way possible.
Fortunately, site migration is pretty easy. In fact, when you switch to WP Super Host, you have the option of handled site migration. This means a team of experts will handle your site’s move with no action required on your part. So even if you aren’t familiar with the technicalities of site migration, WP Super Host makes it possible. However, if you prefer to handle it yourself, you can always opt out of handled migration too. You can learn more about this process at this blog post on WordPress site migration.
Adding a Forum to Your Website with the Best Plugins
Now that you’ve migrated your site over to WordPress, you can start exploring options for forums. The easiest way to do this is with dedicated site plugins.
What are plugins?
Essentially, WordPress features an extensive library of site add-ons and extensions in the form of these plugins. Most of these are independently developed off of the WordPress base code and can expand site functionality in a variety of ways. This includes plugins and tools for building forums. Plus, more plugins are being developed constantly, meaning that your WordPress site has nearly limitless possibilities. This library is a huge reason why WordPress remains the most popular CMS in the world, powering almost 40% of existing websites. When it comes to easy site growth and flexibility, there is no better option than WordPress.
The best WordPress plugins for forums
Since WordPress plugins are independently developed, there are several plugins that can all serve the same purpose. Forum tools are no exception. In addition, you can use independent forum software in conjunction with WordPress to build your site’s forums. Some of these options include:
- phpBB (a good choice for WordPress site integration since both are coded in the PHP language)
- Simple Machines
As for WordPress plugins, the most popular forum software is bbPress. Since bbPress is a plugin, it is built entirely to function in the WordPress system and requires no extra steps on your part to integrate into your site. So let’s take a look at how to add a forum to your website with bbPress.
How to Add a Forum to Your Website with bbPress
bbPress is an easy-to-use and accessible forum solution for WordPress users. While WordPress plugin interfaces tend to be pretty straightforward, it’s worth getting a quick rundown of the initial setup and features:
- Like any WordPress plugin, bbPress is available through the plugin library on your WordPress dashboard. Just search for bbPress, install, and activate it.
- Now that you’ve installed bbPress, you should see new “Forums”, “Topics”, and “Replies” tabs on your WordPress admin. To add a new forum, simply navigate to the Forums tab and click “add new”. You should be presented with a page for your new forum’s title, description, and other settings. Fill these out and then hit publish. You can create as many forum pages as you like for various topics and functions.
- Now you need to integrate the forum on the front-end of your WordPress site. Simply add a new page for your forums and paste this shortcode for bbForums into the page: [bbp-forum-index]
- Now that you have a forum page, you’ll need to make it accessible to users. Navigate to your Appearance tab and add Forums to your menu. You’ll also want to create a registration page for users to sign up. Create a new page like in step 3, but this time use the shortcode [bb–register]. Do the same for a lost passwords page with the shortcode [bbp-lost-pass]
- You did it! Your forums are now set up and integrated into your WordPress site! From here you can explore additional settings and customize your forums as you see fit. You can also explore other WordPress plugins that can help enhance your forums or function with them to improve your overall site.
To Sum Up
Adding a forum is one of the easiest ways to improve your site for both yourself and your users. With forums, you’ll encourage increased user engagement which, in turn, can improve your site’s content, traffic, and overall SEO. Plus, WordPress makes it simple to add new forums and seamlessly integrate them with your site, no matter its function. So get your users involved today with a forum on your WordPress site.