Submitting articles to article directories is another one of the link building strategies that can be used to build links for a forum. There are 100’s of article directories available and most are not worth it, as the search engines tend not to index a lot of the articles, so they pass no backlink benefit (link juice). Also, because of duplicate content of the articles, even if they were indexed by the search engines, the value of any links in the articles are not going to be worth much.
I use article submission to build deeplinks to valuable threads and discussions on forums to help them rank higher and get more of the threads indexed in the search engines. This is important in getting ranked for some of the long tail searches and also getting some indented or extra listings in the search engine results.
There are two strategies I use here. Ezine Articles is the number one article site (it has a PR of 6), so I submit one or two articles a week to them on topic that are related to topics under discussion on the forums. Your profile at Ezine Articles can also have several links to your site as well. To ensure that the articles I write and my profile are well indexed (and pass the benefit of the link), I use Linkvana to, not only get links to the forums, but also get direct links to my Ezine Articles, so they can pass more link juice to my forums. Traffic is also generated to the forums as the Ezine Article ranks better from the links to it.
Because of the issue of duplicate content, there is a lot of effort needed to rewrite an article many times to submit to many more article sites, when none of them are going to be as valuable as an Ezine Articles one. To overcome this I use Article Marketing Automation (it does cost $50/month), but I submit 2-4 articles a week to them based on threads and tags on the forums to build backlinks. After you have written an article on Article Marketing Automation, it then takes you through a number of steps to rewrite each sentence in the article several times, so by a random process, there can be virtually 100’s of versions of the same article to get around any potential duplicate content issues. These articles are then made available to sites in their network. If the article is on a good popular topic and well written, it gets syndicated (in my experience) to up to 30 to 100 sites, for up to 100 backlinks to the thread on the forum about that topic (they do not all occur at once). This is well worth it for $50/ month to get up to 100 deeplinks to a forum thread 2-4 times a week. (The $50/month is recouped through the additional advertising revenue from the increased search engine traffic).
Article directory links are not the best sorts of links to get, as everyone can get them easily, so can be considered self promotional links. They still do pass some link juice (especially if you used something like Linkvana to build links to the articles). Despite that, they still do have to be part of a balanced strategy to promote the forum.