If you are not using forums in your website now may be a good time to get started. With Google and Yahoo putting the emphasis on fresh new content, it is important for search engine optimization purposes to be adding fresh new content to your site on a daily basis. Forums can help get you that fresh new content. If done correctly you will have fresh new content added on a daily basis from your users and visitors with very little effort on your part.
Recently I have discovered just how easy it is to add a PHP bulletin board (forum) to my web site. First you need to download the script from http://www.phpbb.com . It's a free download so don't worry and they have a support section that explains how to install the script.
You will also need to make sure your host has PHP support and a MYSQL database configuration. In most cases this is an upgrade from your basic hosting package but the cost is minimal compared to the services that you will receive. PHP is a very powerful tool for your website.
If you don't know anything about PHP or MYSQL, don't worry about it. I use 2 different web host providers and in both cases the support I got was excellent. Both host providers voluntarily installed my PHP bulletin board script for me. All I had to do after it was installed was to go to my administration panel and start adding the subjects for my new forum.
Once you have set up your forum you will need to tell everyone about it. A forum is no good if there is nobody posting to it. If you have an e-mail list or e-mail a newsletter periodically, e-mail your list telling them about your new forum and inviting them to join.
One of the best ways to get new members to your forum is to use other forums. Put a link in your signature file inviting members to your forum. I currently have around 20 forums that I am a member of and try to post to on a regular basis. My signature file contains a link to my forum and to my blog. This also creates free traffic to my web site. I have heard of people who post to 100's of forums on a regular basis just to get free traffic to their site. If you do this be very careful not to spam the forums. Only use affiliate links in your signature file. And always try to post something useful to the readers or it may be considered spam.
Once you start getting posts on your new forum from new users try to respond as much as you can. If it's the person's first post, be sure to welcome them to the forum and offer any assistance that they may need. The more posts on your forum the better. You don't want people going to your forum to find nothing. It is better to have 30-40 posts all from yourself than to have no posts at all. When I started my first forum I did exactly that just to get it started and I continue to add posts on a regular basis.
Eventually your forum will take on a life of its own, creating fresh new content on a daily basis, giving you better search engine rankings, and all the FREE traffic your website can handle.