Creating Stickiness – Bringing Visitors Back & Making Money

The goal of most websites (and businesses) is to generate “stickiness,” which is basically attracting visitors and keeping them coming back to the website or business for more of what is being offered. There are various ways a company or website can create stickiness, such as providing updated news and information (which can be time consuming and expensive) or having the visitors create their own content to bring them back.
Yesterday, I launched a forum on in an effort to create stickiness. I have been very happy with the growth of the site so far, but I want to give visitors a reason to return.   I continue to add new content and videos to the site (no need for .TV – joking – take it easy), and traffic is rising as it gains traction in Google.   Although the site hasn’t gained much traction in Yahoo yet, I am optimistic that it will come in time.
I added links to the forum on the sidebar of every page in, and I also added calls to action throughout the site. Since tropical bird watching is a fairly popular hobby, I believe people will be interested in discussing everything related to tropical birds in the forum. Hopefully this will create stickiness, which should help the site grow.
The challenge will be turning the eyeballs into dollars. Based on my minimal experience so far, I believe there are plenty of advertisers in this space who will be interested in capturing the attention of tropical bird enthusiasts who visit the site, and I will be able to accommodate their advertising needs when the time comes. As I mentioned before, when I reached out to bird breeders about free listings on the site, I had one breeder who requested a featured listing on the site, and now she is the featured breeder in six categories.
While generating advertising revenue isn’t as easy as that was, I believe advertisers will want to put their products in front of interested eyeballs.   I am spending the time and money to build a place for likeminded people to discuss tropical birds, and I wanted to share this strategy with those of you who are in the midst of development. As always, if you have any questions, I am happy to help if I can.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
  1. Thanks Elliot. Great post. I, and I am sure others appreciate your generosity in discussing your development experiences. Cheers!

  2. hey Elliot,

    you’ve probably already heard of, but in case you haven’t..

    consider ‘ForumsFirst’ if you were looking for an easy way to get an initial conversation going on the Tropical Birds Forum… they offer a paid forum posting service..


    Thanks for the info! I will check it out.

  3. Thanks for sharing your information. You should highlight your forum as a link on the top of the page. I couldn’t find it initially.
    Also, to the gentleman above who says forums aren’t worth the time…I guess it’s a matter of perspective. They take time and energy – but wow! – Once going, they will drive more pageviews than you can shake a blog at.
    Good luck!

  4. Are you saying TV is for the birds?
    Elliot, IMHO, you are a real role model. You’ve made smart choices in focussing on geos and other communities of interest. Tropical Birds is a real winner especially because you have so many sub-niches by bird name that serve as seo anchor text.
    As for comments about forums not monetizing, I wouldn’t mind the gross in just three years that T.R.A.F.F.I.C launched from relationships initiated on TargetedTrafficForum. PlentyofFish started as a forum and with NameMedia buying stamp communities and more, and DemandMedia building another billion dollar business around communities- all while PPC is on oxogen at best- I know Elliot is on to greatness.

  5. Forums are a bit of a two edged sword – I say this having been involved with literally 100’s of them, I set them up and then act as troubleshooter during the first days of their existence in case something goes wrong and when something wrong happens I get called in to fix it.

    If you can get a forum going and sustaining itself then it can be a good thing but I’ve seen all sorts of failures. There is nothing worse than an empty forum that isn’t being used – the forumsfirst type thing might be alright if the posts are actually intelligent and not just “twitter”.

    Additionally there can be other problems, one forum I was involved with got so busy that it was shut down because of the cost of maintaining it, 400 users at any given moment can totally eat money in bandwidth.

    I’ve done a lot of SEO work and it is pretty apparent that if there is an empty forum that you can even be penalized for it – reason being that there are so many default pages in a forum setup like the login pages, new posts page, profile pages, archives. These will be duplicate content as far as Google et al sees it and the search engines do not like duplicate content at all.

    So, you put up a forum with one post and there are 50 pages of stock default pages that come with the forum. Therefore you have 98% duplicate content as the 100000’s of other forums on line have exactly those same pages. Google doesn’t like sites that have a great preponderance of duplicate content.

    I would advise keeping the forum secret and building up about 20 threads and 50-100 posts BEFORE you allow the search engines to look at it. Then you must make sure that you (or someone) post regularly for at least a month or so as the search engines approve of sites that don’t just appear and then stagnate.

    The initial linking strategy is important too. At the beginning you do not want to aim at your target keywords, get some varied anchor text links and after a few weeks then you can put up some directly targeted anchor text but what you don’t want is the first 20 links all to say “Tropical Birds”, vary them using the URLs directly ie no anchor text. This will establish a base of links so that when you put a few powerful “Tropical Bird” links that they will be 10% of the total links – too many people put their first 10 links all with “Tropical Birds” and then Google knows you are gaming them as that would never happen under natural circumstances.

    I could go on, but if you do as much as I outlined above you will be far ahead of most efforts.

    Great advice – thank you. I am going to block the robot from the forum until things get going. THANKS!!

  6. Forums are awesome. They can be a lot of work to keep the spammers off, moderate them and get things rolling – but once you have an audience it is a great way to bring people back time and again.

  7. Hey Elliot:

    What is Fussilet. com?

    Just curious,

    They were the creators of the theme my developer modified.

  8. Heh.

    Forums require a lot of effort. All of Owen’s examples are (1) extremely time consuming and (2) the exception, not the case.

    The entire idea of TropicalBirds was to build a site low on maintenance that drives decent traffic to make some decent money. Forum pageviews are the *least valuable* pageviews in any kind of inventory, and the amount of work and effort involved in fighting spammers, moderation, and so forth is not worth it for a site that is not your flagship.

    A forum for Lowell? Good idea. A forum for a site not your main idea? Not a good idea.

    Forums consume time, generate (relatively) worthless pageviews, and can suck up resources like you won’t believe. I’ve ran dozens of forums, the biggest of which has almost 4 million posts and over registered 150,000 members. Would I do it again? Nope.

    The end game for this is project is to build a community and sell it to someone who is much more interested in tropical birds than I. 🙂

  9. My young poetry forum has been up since June 17 and averages 750-1,000 hits per day (and I have been told that summer is slow season for writing forums).
    Previously, the forum was on blogger and only averaged about 100 hits per day. Now it’s on Simple Machines (SMF).
    No ads on it yet, but that’s in the near future.
    I’m still working on the spam/p0rn problem, but I hope that will be solved when next week I shut off posting privileges for guests.
    I’d say that a forum is a good idea for your Tropical Bird site, but you have to decide your tolerance level for internet trolls and pests. If you don’t want to give your members a bit of leeway, then you may end up being an internet cop, which can be a bit labor intensive.
    My forum is fairly free-wheeling; in fact, one of my enticements is freedom of speech when discussing poetry, poetics, and writing in general (though I would hardly think that a discussion about tropical birds would bring out a heated discussion, though I could very well be wrong).
    I don’t tolerate p0rn, spamming (I have threads for self-promoting books and such), hate speech, plagiarism, libel, etc., but if someone calls another person a “gasbag,” I’ll not be stepping in and intervening. But if your tolerance level for such exchanges isn’t very high, then you’ll find yourself getting complaints from members, and you may be busy intervening in spats, deleting posts, banning members, etc.
    I would suggest including an off-topic thread because members occasionally go to their favorite forums to talk about unrelated topics. The idea is to keep members happy and keep them coming back to their favorite Tropical Bird Forum–yours–even if they have the presidential election on their minds on a given day.
    It IS fun running a forum, and you meet a lot of interesting people who are like-minded (although they don’t always agree with you or other members). I absolutely adore my members.
    My forum is still small, which is fine with me right now as I get my feet wet and iron out some technical glitches, like blocking spam and that horrid p0rn.
    Good luck!

  10. Elliot,
    You should consider setting the forum up on because the SE’s will consider this a whole separate site from
    Then, you can give your site backlinks from the forum site with your anchor text and start ranking for some of your long tail keywords.
    And since is a subdomain of, it will rank in the SE’s right away since is already ranked.
    You can also get good results with this strategy using as well.
    – Richard

  11. You should consider setting the forum up on because the SE’s will consider this a whole separate site from”
    On the other hand, you might want to use another domain name altogether for your forum, though your forum title can still be Tropical Birds.
    I’m sure there’s both pros and cons for doing this.
    Did you know there is already a forum about Tropical Birds? It looks pretty established.
    Perhaps the owner would consider selling it.

  12. Hello Elliot,
    I am in the process of trying to build stickiness into a Geo site and have spent a long time researching ideas. I have eventually gone with a social networking community on a subdomain of my main site (which is similar to your TropicalBirds because it’s entirely static and handmade in html).
    Imho it will create more stickiness than a forum as members can upload videos, talk on message boards, instant message each other etc. It is third party software which is not hosted on your own servers ( so no bandwidth problems) but the good thing is you can mask the domain so it is entirely white label and part of your site. Oh and it’s free.
    I read your blog a lot and when i saw you had made a forum I thought I’d mention this incase it’s something you might like to incorporate before your forum starts to get too busy.
    The white label community i’m talking about is at

  13. Sean,
    Just curious:
    How do you deal with the spam/p0rn problem? It seems those vultures are everywhere. I certainly wouldn’t want some creep uploading a p0rn video on my site.
    Must members be approved before they join?

  14. Yes, as far as I can see the admin has the final say on everything. Uploaded videos and messages are all stacked up for apporval by the Admin before they go live on the site.
    I’m still learning myself, though. I’ve only had a few hours playing with the functionality in the admin login. But it certainly seems to address all problems like that.

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