Four Essential Forum Search Resources

Posting on forums is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your websites. The ability to insert signatures in posts, links to specific web pages and network and communicate with those that might be interested in your products and services is well worth the investment of time it requires. But with thousands of forums, discussion boards and mailing lists to get through, you need the right tools for the job. Here are a few essential resources for finding opportunities to build links on forums.

: This discussion search engine has been around for a number of years. In addition to being perhaps the most popular forum search engine, BoardTracker differentiates itself by providing message tracking and instant alerts designed to keep you in informed on forum posts critical to your business objectives regardless of when or where it is posted. I did not initially have much luck using BoardTracker for the keyword "coffee" when searching in the food and drink category or across all categories as the search function was inconsistent and clunky but persistence paid off when the scope (how far back to look) was increased and the number of categories searched through was extended. Perhaps the coolest part of BoardTracker is its tag search capabilities.

: Another community search site with a dedicated following, BoardReader is an excellent way to find information contained on the Web's many forums and message boards. The service enables users to search not just by individual posts or topics, but images, videos and even Twitter (although that search took far too long). The sorting is a very powerful feature provided by BoardReader. Users can search for posts or threads, for content up to the last three months (which does prevent historical queries), sort by relevance and freshness and in virtually any language

: As the newest of the community discovery tools listed here, Twing is a decent service with a much more elegant interface than the other sites listed here. The basic funtionality at Twing enables users to search posts, topics and forums and sort by date and relevance. One of the more interesting features at Twing is that users can see who posted the item, when it was posted, and this is the most important part - how many replies and views the post has had. Other noteworthy features include Twing's Community Buzz page which displays items that are most linked to from forums, hot topics (including those most clicked) and the top communities (fastest growing and most active). There is also a handy little directory to help you identify forums you might be interested in.

: This crawler-based vertical search engine is one of my personal favorites to discover content on forums, discussion groups, mailing lists, answer boards and others community sites - over 100,000 of them as a matter of fact. The Omgili forum search is really no different than those listed above, but where it separates itself as a service is really the Reviews section (which finds and displays the overall user sentiment about a product) and Buzz - which lets you compare activity for different terms. One of the other things I really like about Omgili is its plugins. Users can add the service to the IE8 and Firefox Search Bar, to their Google Home page or use Omgili's Firefox extension "Advanced Search Made Simple."