Bingo! I was thinking about this and about to make another comment to that effect. I was going to suggest that if the OP (or anyone else starting / reviving a forum) has any expertise on the subject... to leverage that expertise by posting compelling / informative / good content. Pick a specific subject and write it up as a thread. Then another. And, another!I started posting stuff that I found interesting, concentrating on making a lot of good quality posts - and it's paid off. I basically treated the forum as a sort of blog with a comment feature and yes, it works.
No gaming necessary. In fact, Google easily detects gaming and penalizes it. Good content will make for good NATURAL SEO. But, be sure to work good keywords into your content. This can be done while still making it "readable" / useful to the audience. What would folks be searching for on Google? Create THAT content.Entering "nerdzone", or "nerd zone" into Google returns nerdzone.uk as the top site and that's without any SEO! It was initially many entries down, but steadily climbed over a few weeks to reach the top spot and has stayed there ever since and all with no gaming of the system at all. That proves that quality content is key and Google rewards it.
Yep... slow and steady. Marathon not a sprint. Let it grow organically, but fertilize that thing!I also have a handful of active members on my site, along with others who post occasionally. Plus, people are registering new accounts every few days now, too. For a low maintenance hobby forum in 2022 that has no advertising and I'm not promoting in any significant way, this isn't bad going and I'm proud of what I've achieved, especially so since we know the general problems with starting forums nowadays. I hope the forum grows with time, but there's no pressure to make it grow quickly.
FWIW... I'm in the US.It's not irrelevant. Don't be so dismissive. There's loads of companies, Facebook groups etc called nerdzone in some form or another, yet I'm on top.
Why do you think there's a difference in our search results though? Enter the search as I showed and you should see my site is at the top.
No gaming necessary. In fact, Google easily detects gaming and penalizes it. Good content will make for good NATURAL SEO. But, be sure to work good keywords into your content. This can be done while still making it "readable" / useful to the audience. What would folks be searching for on Google? Create THAT content.
Speaking of which... if the content is particularly valuable, you might make it a "Resource" available to members only. But, make sure there's a publicly visible thread about it.
It's hard to say, but given the demographic you're looking for, I'm not sure how much activity you'll get and suspect it won't be much, unfortunately.How much do you think opening the forum to the public will help my site? The rival forum is more about traffic signal hobbyists. I want my forum to have more people in the profession. (Signal Techs, Civil Engineers, Manufacturers).
It's hard to say, but given the demographic you're looking for, I'm not sure how much activity you'll get and suspect it won't be much, unfortunately.
Anyone else have a better idea of what to expect?
Domain name change won't change anything. Running a forum isn't that easy. As others have continuously pointed out, content is king. A forum without visible posts without an already active user base is not going to succeed regardless of how many times you change the domain name.I think it's just bad timing.
Aaroads is a road themed forum and it has thousands of people on it, it's been around the longest out of all the transportation themed forums online. It doesn't focus on traffic signals, it's more highway and road themed: https://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php
The forum that I got kicked off from (highway divides) is traffic signal oriented and only has about 600 people. However, unlike my forum, Highway Divides has a decent ratio of active vs. inactive users, even for it's relatively small size.
There was an old SignalTrafficForum from 2008, that was roughly the same size as Highway Divides, but had far more users, however, I've noticed the threads didn't have many posts, despite the forum itself being active, it could be because of the time period it was in.