Most of you are aware of what the Warrior Forum is. Many of you started following my posts there long before I launched Income Bully. It’s been thought of by many to be the #1 internet marketing forum online, period. And if you asked me 2 years ago I would have agreed.
Of course, you can tell by the title that I no longer believe that to be the case.
In fact, I think the Warrior Forum will become a ghost town in the next year or two.
Why Warrior Forum Is Dying Out
It’s been a little over a year when Freelancer.com bought Warrior Forum. Was it a good buy? I think it was more likely a good sell by Allen, the previous owner. Maybe he knew things were dying out, or maybe it was certain changes Freelancer made that sparked the “dying out”.
I don’t think it was a premonition the previous owner had… I think it was caused by Freelancer.
First off… let’s talk about why I think that.
The first, and obvious thing that stands out is the rapid reduction of the alexa rank of Warrior Forum. Before the sale of the community, it was sitting between 200-225 pretty regularly. I don’t remember seeing a day that it was out of that range.
I realize Alexa ranking isn’t something to base these claims on by itself. However, using it to monitor the general trend of a website high in popularity is actually something pretty accurate. Perhaps not the bounce rate, pages per session and such but the overall popularity being measured, seems to be pretty legit.
Since Freelancer took over, the Warrior Forum has dipped to 1,229. In 12 months, that’s about a 600% decrease in popularity… actually, if you want to be technical, that’s just a 600% decrease in Alexa rank. Of course, that ranking is still pretty freaking great. Maybe one day I’ll be able to achieve that!
My opinion isn’t just based off of Alexa ranking though, my opinion is based on much more. My own observations of changes being made, the drop in forum traffic, and the drop in general activity.
Since restructuring the forum, adding additional forums, moving old threads to new forums and deleting threads that received good traffic, this really dropped their search engine traffic. Using SEMrush as a basis here, they’ve had a drop of 500% in search related traffic. That’s awful! About a 50% decrease in search related traffic after 1 week of changes. What a disastrous week, that continues to echo into today!
They were moving URLs/pages/threads into new forums or different forums and instead of keeping the same URL they would take on the new sub forum category in its’ place. This not only messed up the overall relevance of existing forums but it resulted in a lot of 404 errors, and they still have forgotten to 301 some very popular posts that received a lot of search traffic. This was a gross oversight by Freelancer.
The moderating staff continues to close or delete threads that have been adding value to the forum, and now its’ littered with a bunch of borderline spam posts, and the same topics being vomited back up every couple months.
My Own Personal Observations About The Warrior Forum
We can use third party tools to analyze things all day but sometimes it doesn’t tell us the whole story, and sometimes it’s not accurate. I realize that, and that’s why I take my own personal observations into consideration.
I’m not here to bash the forum, it’s been good to me, I’ve released two WSO’s, my “Ultimate Blueprint to Start a Web Agency” and my “Ice Cold Email Gold product“. Both have done well, better than they would have done without the existence of the Warrior Forum… but that’s also part of the problem.
People take advantage of the “built in” traffic it provides, and they spam out WSO’s to make some money. The quality is generally low, and they seem to approve any junk that gets submitted.
They have done some good things though… they did a redesign which it did help out the overall look of the forum, but I also know that sometimes better looking doesn’t mean better conversions, behavioral metrics, or better overall results. I think Freelancer felt like they just “had to do something” to become legitimate owners. This was followed by reordering the forum structure, adding new forums, adding large promotional graphics in the main forum index page.
The follow up “work” is likely what has caused a large dip in traffic and activity.
For example, the offline forum which was one of the highest quality and more active forums on WF was originally in the 4th position or so in the main index. It now has been moved towards the bottom and has seen a reduction of 150% in users viewing the forum and a 270% decrease in weekly post volume.
Even the WSO and Main Internet Marketing subforums have seen a large reduction in traffic and post activity, about 200% decrease.
These numbers are huge and can’t be ignored.
I wrote an email to Alaister Low of Freelancer giving suggestions and it seems like they actually took my advice and removed some of the images that increased bounce rate. I don’t think that will be enough though. There are plenty of other issues, but I have the feeling we’re at the point of no return.
Like I said though, this isn’t a personal jab… they’ve done some things pretty well and have made a decent effort. Some of those things include:
- Redesign of the forum
- Adding a Mobile Compatible version
- Tightening up WSO rules like no income reports
- Fixing database errors and uptime problems
- Adding Warrior Payments and Funnels
Mobile compatibility was always a topic but never executed under the previous ownership. Same with the database and uptime problems. WSO’s were like the wild west and a con man corner. Warrior Payments was never on the radar.
Freelancer did a good job, taking an existing property and making it more profitable overall…
The problem is they’ve lost a lot of traffic in the process.
The last attempt was by adding tags to the top of the forums. I assume they’re doing this for search engine purposes which is a bad idea, but I guess it does have some user experience benefits in theory. But… that’s the problem with theory. Theories sound good, they seem to be the right answer, but it’s the data that matters.
The addition of tags at the top of sub forums have caused another drop in activity. This one I only tracked through the SEO forum, offline forum, main internet marketing forum and ad network forum, the post count volume has dipped once again but this time only between 3-6% per forum since implementation.
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How Can Warrior Forum Rebound?
To be honest, I have doubts that they ever will be able to. I think it will be a downward spiral of destruction.
If it were me though, this is what I would do.
- Order the forums based on overall activity. Put the most active forums on top. Ditch the Freelancer discussion and close the WAMA forum.
- Instead of the WAMA feature, do a well promoted once a month event, not forum dependent.
- Give incentives to product creators so they continue paying WSO fees instead of choosing to do a self hosted launch.
- Do a “reactivation campaign” and spend some money on retargeting.
- Make an effort to reduce low quality posts, perhaps adding some sort of gamification system.
- Pay well known bloggers, and authorities to make X amount of posts each month, whether it’s their own posts or commenting on other posts.
- Get rid of the tags… the tagging system already works without having it displayed on the top of the forum. It’s likely reducing the average time on site.
Would these things help? Maybe… maybe not. It’s just what I would do.
One thing is for sure though… the warrior forum can not continue on in its’ current state.
Very rarely are you able to just “maintain” your position. If you’re not making progress, then you’re falling behind. It’s a constant push and I don’t think they’re pushing enough.
There’s something wrong… I know it, the users know it, and they know it.
What are your thoughts? Is WF going to die? Survive? Thrive? Would love to hear your comments below.