Mayagüez, Puerto Rico (PRWEB) November 30, 2007 — Forums have evolved from the days of offline BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) to the topic-focused Web communities of the current era. Social networks share similar origins – but they focus more on user relationships. As they cross each other’s boundaries, two things are becoming clear:
(1) social networks are stealing eyeballs (web users), and
(2) forums have no choice but to “differentiate or die”
What are their comparative strengths?
Forums are unmatched at generating huge amounts of topic based information (i.e. useful content). Social networks clearly dominate user interaction.
Is convergence possible?
Right now it seems to be an all or nothing affair, with no clear mutually beneficial relationship in sight. For the tens of thousands of forum admins operating as small businesses, the emergence of giants like mySpace and FaceBook is intimidating.
Imagine being a small Mom & Pop hardware store parked between Walmart and Home Depot.
What is the key to survival for forums?
The key differences between forums and social networks needs to be clearly recognized and embraced. Again, forums are “user generated content” machines. They will fair out best by strengthening their competitive dominance in this category.
Social networks produce a lot of “data” – but it’s not exactly the type of content Googlers are searching for. FaceBook (for example) generates data like “Funwall”, “SuperWall”, “Zombie/Vampire hug”, “Virtual Drink”, or “TopFriends” postings. Granted these can be “fun” – but they are not helping to add useful content to the searchable Web.
Convergence is coming, although slowly in terms of Internet time frames. Forums have started to integrate social networking features, and social networks are attempting to get users to develop more searchable content.
The announcement of vBulletin version 3.7 by software developer Jelsoft is a clear indication of their strategic move towards improving user interaction for forums, while maintaining the advantage of user generated content.
Promoting user interaction boosts user activity and member retention.
But getting web users to visit a site in the first place remains as one of the biggest tasks. Fortunately vBulletin powered forums have the upper hand when it comes to search engine traffic. The secret weapon is a 3rd party plugin called vBSEO, or “vBulletin Search Engine Optimization”, offered by Crawlability Inc.
Effective SEO allows a site with great content to get listed in search engines like Google, harvesting traffic in the form of new visitors, members, and clickthroughs to revenue generators like the AdSense network.
After the Nov. 16th release of vBSEO 3.1.0 GOLD, Vice President, Ilia Muriente, discussed how products like vBSEO and others like it are helping forums amidst the exponential growth of social networks:
“Right now ‘forums vs. social networks’ is really just ‘content vs. interaction’. FaceBook is a magnet for Web eyeballs. But Web users are still going to Google when looking for specific info.
“As long as vBulletin forums are superior in content, they will continue to be an active destination on the Web. With vBSEO’s SEO technology we can help forum content get indexed and ranked better by the search engines. And this, of course, leads directly to more Web traffic – a critical success factor.
We are excited about the vBulletin 3.7 release. It “shows their commitment to including social networking elements in order to boost interaction.
“Of all forum software, vBulletin is the clear leader. One of their key strengths is their commitment to encouraging 3rd party plugin development, which has resulted in professional solutions like vBSEO adding value to their offering via extended feature sets.
“They had the vision to see this early on, well before Google conceived of ideas like ‘OpenSocial’. Most importantly, they made it happen by creating a powerful plugin system as well as their dedicated 3rd party developer network at vbulletin.org.
“The result today is thousands of 3rd party, value added, product extensions filling every need imaginable. This, of course, includes vBSEO and several other professional efforts that have become instrumental in helping forum admins succeed. As a direct result, vBulletin has solidified their leading position in the forum world, which was no doubt a key factor in Internet Brands acquisition of the company back in July 2007.
“From our perspective, vBulletin is going to be a factor on the Web for a long time to come.”
So who ultimately wins the “Web War”? The question is really who will manage the “convergence” best. For the short-term, secret weapons like vBSEO give content monsters (like vBulletin powered forums) the upper hand within the search engine battlefields.
More information about Crawlability Inc. and vBSEO can be found on their website at http://www.vbseo.com – the official support community for the vBulletin SEO software. vBulletin admins interested in search engine optimizing their vBulletin forums can obtain vBSEO there.
Crawlability Inc. is an Internet software company based in Puerto Rico providing patent-pending search engine optimization solutions with a focus on Web forums. Launched in 2005, Crawlability’s first software release, named vBSEO, is the market leader in helping thousands of vBulletin powered Web forums gain more visitors from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, & MSN. See http://www.crawlability.com
vBulletin is the leading Web forum software and flagship product of Jelsoft Enterprizes Limited, a UK based new media company that focuses on high performance community software. Jelsoft is a subsidiary of Internet Brands, a California based online media company owning a wide array of major media, community, and eCommerce destinations such as CarsDirect.com.