You definitely can't be a blatant link spammer. You have to understand the policies of each forum. You also can't come into a forum and be aggressively needy. Never start throwing around links to your site in your first posts.
I also wouldn't recommend coming into a forum and asking for big favors right off the bat. I've seen people come to a forum and ask things like: "Please look at my site and tell my why I'm not coming up in the search engines."
That's a big topic. You'll often be kindly asked to spend some time on the forum reading and participating. So often, when I see a post like the one above, the person gets the information he wants and then is never seen again.
Like most link building, this is relationship building. No relationship in your life has grown out of you just demanding for help and attention. People will only be your friend if you give as well as take.
Link Building 101
This give and take has maybe never been more apparent than with our own forum moderator, Nacho. Nacho oversees Multilingual Search Markets & Non-US Engines and Yahoo Paid Inclusion/Site Match at the Search Engine Watch Forums.
On Nov. 7, 2004 Nacho started the "Link Building 101" thread, a comprehensive to-do list for creating a link building campaign. If you read his first two posts, all you can say is, "WOW!" What a lexicon of link building information.
Nacho points out that he loves link building. This love clearly shows. You simply couldn't have the discipline and dedication to create such a link building resource if you didn't love the topic.
Another interesting thing about this post is that Nacho decided to post this information on his favorite forum. He didn't try to horde the information by keeping it on his own Web site or making it some sort of official white paper. Although he may have done those things, I didn't find his resource in those areas. I found it here at the SEW Forums.
You'll also notice that nowhere did he say something like, "If you would like other really cool information like this, check out my site!" His post was all in the spirit of giving.
Nearly four years later and 82 replies to his initial post, people are still commenting on Nacho's findings. The common comments are things like how relevant his findings are to this day and how thankful people still are that he put it together.
Keep in mind that all Nacho did was gather information. He didn't set out to be the next great link building expert. All he did was say, "Hey, check out these cool resources."
Granted, that's no small task. But he also wasn't reinventing the wheel.
More Posts = More Traffic
"So, nice anecdote, Sage, but how does any of this help Nacho?"
Good question, invisible person in my head. As I mentioned, Nacho didn't try to get anything outwardly obvious from this post. However, Nacho is a clever one. I highly doubt his intentions were purely altruistic.
You see, Nacho knows what all heavy participators in forums know. When you contribute in a meaningful way to a forum, people will take the time to find you. Nacho isn't just your mild-mannered SEW Forum moderator. He's also the CEO & Founder of iHispanic Marketing Group. iHispanic helps companies market to the U.S. Hispanic market and in Latin America. Nacho's full name is Nacho Hernandez.
"How do you know all this about Nacho, Sage? Are you friends with Nacho?"
No, invisible person in my head, I've never met Nacho. I know this because every time Nacho posts to the SEW Forums his name links to his profile. His profile has all sorts of information in it, including a direct link to his company Web site.
Now, I don't know how much traffic Nacho gets from his posts. He posts quite a bit: Total Posts: 1,385 (0.98 posts per day). What I can tell you is that as a CEO of a company, you don't do anything every day for years on end unless it pays off. When I'm even just a little active in forums, the traffic to my business site gets nicely padded from my forum profile link.
Now Nacho has received one more gift from a post he made almost four years ago -- a link from me. Well-placed, good content can be the link building gift that keeps on giving.
There you have it, an article on link building by referring to a link building example that uses the topic of link building. I love circular logic!