vBulletin: Start a Forum For Your Blog

December 2nd in Wordpress Strategies by .

Building a forum around your blog is one of the best ways to build a solid, dynamic community that will go on even with you not being involved. I am not suggesting that you should set up a forum and just take a 6 month vacation. At the same time, having a community that goes beyond your posts and allows people to get involved and make their own content can certainly be beneficial to you and your blog. If you take a look at the top blogs around, you’ll see that those that have gone to become major media sources have built up their base through their forums. These folks usually register both .com and .net version of their domains. They dedicate the .com version to a blog whereas the .net domain is usually reserved for forums, online communities, and beyond.

Tip: 20 ways to drive more traffic to your site

There are two ways to use your vBulletin software. You can just choose the forum software (which is what I recommend). That makes it possible for you to use WordPress as your main CMS and integrate your vBulletin forum into your community without too much trouble. vBulletin’s publishing suite is a premium package that you may not need, especially if your community is based on WordPress. There are many reasons to adopt vBulletin, but here are 5 reasons that stand out:

  • SEO: vBulletin forums are search engine friendly. You can easily customize your URLs and on page factors to give your forum the best chance to get ranked on Google. The fact that you don’t have to look for additional plugins to get the job done is a big plus.
  • Security: I can’t tell you how many times I have installed a free forum software only to realize that it can’t hold up against security attacks that you get every once in a while, especially when your website becomes popular. Don’t forget that your forum can expose you to liabilities if you don’t address these security issues. With vBulletin you are always covered, and you get updates on a consistent basis as well.
  • Applications: vBulletin may not be as user friendly as WordPress. It may not have as many plugins as WordPress does. At the same time, it does come with a set of built in applications that let you and your users get more out of forums. Your visitors can start photo albums, check out your events, and you can create groups as well.
  • Member Management: managing members is one of the most difficult things to do, especially if you have a couple of thousands of them on your forum. How you moderate them, ban them, and reward them is up to you. But it’s nice to have the option to do those things without spending5 any additional money.
  • Customization: vBulletin forums are as easy to customize as WordPress websites. So if you know your CSS, you can easily change things around and give your forum a similar look to your blog. Skinning vBulletin can’t be any easier.

All in all, vBulletin is a great software package to add a forum to your blog. You can always change the CSS to keep the look and feel consistent across your properties. I do recommend using a separate domain for your forum just to be on the safe side. If you have registered both .com and .net versions of your domain, you can dedicate one to your blog and the other to your forum. Managing a forum next to your WordPress blog can add to your daily work, but if your forum gets popular, you are going to get a lot of free traffic and hits, that could help your blog as well. A premium forum script such as vBulletin certainly makes things easy.

How to: automate WordPresss tasks

What’s your favorite forum software?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam December 15, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Nice post…just wondering, wouldn’t including your forum as part of your main blog domain be beneficial as far as increasing links back to your site as well as raising your Alexa ranking?

I understand why you might want to have a separate domain for the forum, but why not just build on your current site?

A separate domain seems more necessary if you are trying to start a paid program.

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Wordpress Jedi December 21, 2009 at 4:03 am

There are obviously different approaches to this. It's true that you may get the benefits if you host your forum on the same domain but there are large portals such as Sherdog that host their forum on the .net version of their website. I personally don't put too much value in Alexa but I do understand your point. For branding purposes, I do recommend separating forum and blog domains. But for SEO purposes, you can combine them under one domain (as a subdomain perhaps). It really depends though.

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Cyrus December 22, 2011 at 8:12 am

depends on your budget really 🙂

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PARVINDER SINGH November 1, 2012 at 7:30 am

I am planning to start vbulletin forum for my blog. But i have a doubt, whether to install vbulletin on subdomain or sub directory?

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Cyrus November 1, 2012 at 1:48 pm

My experience is having it on a separate domain is much better. That has worked for us and our clients. Example: WPJEDI.com ==> Blog. Our forum would be on WPJEDI.net and Our nonprofit would be on WPJEDI.org. I do not recommend sub-domain or sub-directory. This is purely our experience. So hope it helps 🙂

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