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Seo Value Of Forum Sig Links?


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#1 ForumEngine

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 05:19 PM

Is there any generally accepted consensus on the SEO value of forum sig links?

For the sake of discussion I'm assuming a dofollow link that the search bots can see.

I guess I'm asking, are forum sig links any kind of special case? Or are they just links like any other?

Thank you.

Phil

#2 Jill

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 09:41 PM

Well in this forum they're useless for search engines cuz they never see them. For other forums they're usually nofollow and therefore useless to search engines. Any others have likely been found by google and therefore also mostly useless.

#3 ForumEngine

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 06:35 AM

QUOTE
Well in this forum they're useless for search engines cuz they never see them.


Right, I understand.

QUOTE
For other forums they're usually nofollow and therefore useless to search engines.


Well, I understand about nofollow and agree, but most forums seem to be dofollow.

Perhaps you're thinking of the webmaster niche? The big webmaster forums do seem to be mostly nofollow, while the smaller ones are usually dofollow.

However, almost all blogs seem to be nofollow these days, so point taken there.

QUOTE
Any others have likely been found by google and therefore also mostly useless.


I'm sorry, I don't follow here, can you expand on your answer a bit?



#4 ForumEngine

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 07:19 AM

Perhaps this fits here...

I guess we've all seen that there's a fair amount of controversy and conflict between forum owners and forum users these days regarding the subject of spam. This seems especially true on webmaster forums, which makes sense.

I've been using forums since 1995 and have been saddened to see these conflicts pollute what used to be a very friendly, welcoming and collegial experience.

Even more troubling is the fact that forums seem to be increasingly dominated by low quality content.

It's interesting to me that there is a 100% solution to the spam problem, the junk content problem, and the bad feelings problem, and nobody seems to be using it.

Anybody interested in this?









#5 ForumEngine

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 07:37 AM

If you'll forgive a run on post...

I'd ask reader's to examine their reaction to my last post.

Observe how you may be filled with suspicion, and may be gearing up to angrily pounce on whatever kind of spam scam you're worried may be coming next. Observe how we may be in conflict already, and I haven't even really said anything yet.

What if it was 100% impossible for any of us to post spam, or post junk content, or post rude controversy generating remarks?

What if the behaviors a forum admin defined as bad behaviors were literally impossible to perform, and thus there was no need for suspicion, anger and conflict within forum communities?

What if this more positive friendly conflict free environment could be accomplished by almost any forum owner, probably without changing their software, or buying anything new?

What if this happier world was ours for the taking, but we declined to take it, choosing to remain in the spam conflict era instead?

#6 Jill

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 10:03 AM

FE...you are correct, we are in an all out war with forums these days. It's extremely rare for this forum, for instance, to actually get a new member who isn't just here because they either think they can get a link or they think they can promote something. And for those people, once they found out they can't do either, they usually leave pretty quickly.

And worse than that, there are hundreds of bots that come all day trying to register automatically so they can drop their spam links. I've had to resort to not allowing any free email addresses to register here because of that, which is not very fair to the real posters. Funny thing is, it's rarely been a problem since we get so few real posters anyway.

Every day I go through the new list of people who've registered (anywhere from 5-10) and usually at least 80% are on the StopForumSpam.com list of spammers, so I ban their IPs and delete them. Funny thing is, I'm usually suspicious of the 20% that weren't on the spam list and just assume they are likely to be spammers as well.

All this does lead to your original question of why I think it's doubtful that Google counts forum signature links for much (if anything). They're just way too easy to spam and in most cases, are in fact spam.


#7 ForumEngine

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 11:12 AM

QUOTE
FE...you are correct, we are in an all out war with forums these days.


Gotcha. Many or maybe most forum owners seem pretty darn weary of the war. And, at least within the webmaster niche, as a forum user I can report I'm pretty darn weary of it too.

But we're both still here, because forums are a pretty cool technology that many of us enjoy, both as publishers and readers.

So, how can we have our cake and eat it too? How can we get rid of the negative stuff, and keep the positive stuff?

I have an idea, but watch, hard selling of ideas feels as much like spam as hard selling of products does. So for now, I'm just trying to inspire a conversation, and see if anybody is interested in ending the spam war. It's not always clear to me that we do want that.

QUOTE
Funny thing is, I'm usually suspicious of the 20% that weren't on the spam list and just assume they are likely to be spammers as well.


Right, gotcha, that's what I was trying to reference, that experience. Doesn't it kinda suck to have suspicion be the default relationship we have with forum members?

And from the forum member point of view, doesn't it kinda suck for them to be basically guilty until proven innocent?

At what point do all of us, owners, mods and users get so weary of this environment that we start fantasizing about jobs at Walmart?

If many forum admins are secretly thinking of just chucking the whole forum thing once and for all, maybe it's time to rethink how we're going about things?

QUOTE
All this does lead to your original question of why I think it's doubtful that Google counts forum signature links for much (if anything). They're just way too easy to spam and in most cases, are in fact spam.


Well let's see. I agree with your logic regarding how Google value forum links. I make no claim at all to know the reality, but your reasoning makes sense to me.

One wonders how many different factors they can cram in to their algo before crashing their servers. You know, they have to do these calculations on billions of pages. Seems daunting indeed.

I don't think we should automatically label forum sigs spam. Spam isn't equal to advertising, that's way too broad a definition, imho.

Hmm... I'm not sure exactly what the definition of forum spam would be. I'm thinking, promotional content that is in violation of the rules of that forum. Something like that?

As example, on most forums blatantly advertising one's own product within a post would be considered spam. But other forums are set up specifically for this purpose.

Here's one view of forum sigs.

If a post contains the kind of content the mod wants on their forum, it seems reasonable the poster should be rewarded.

If a post does not contain the kind of content the mod wants on their forum, it seems reasonable the post should be deleted.

Thanks for the dialog Jill.





#8 Jill

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 11:24 AM

QUOTE
So, how can we have our cake and eat it too? How can we get rid of the negative stuff, and keep the positive stuff?


Good moderating. You won't find a lick of spam here.

QUOTE
I have an idea, but watch, hard selling of ideas feels as much like spam as hard selling of products does. So for now, I'm just trying to inspire a conversation, and see if anybody is interested in ending the spam war. It's not always clear to me that we do want that.


Right. And while I appreciate you going about it in an unspammy manner, you're still basically here to eventually try to promote whatever product or service you have or will have for this purpose. Not saying you're doing anything wrong, but the purpose and mission of this forum has always been to educate, inspire and to learn. Unfortunately, most people are only out for themselves and are only looking for a place to self promote. It's unfortunate, but that's life I guess.

In the early days here we did have a good community who believed in our mission, but now most people seem to believe that forums (and blog comments too) are simply a marketing vehicle rather than an educational tool. As you say, it may be different in other industries, I don't know as I don't participate in any other online communities outside of the search marketing one.

QUOTE
If a post contains the kind of content the mod wants on their forum, it seems reasonable the poster should be rewarded.


Which is where I think our model of allowing signatures for people but not spiders is the perfect combination. Others on the forum who gain value from a post are welcome to check out the poster's site and information, but there's no link popularity benefit. Anytime there's a link popularity possibility it will, sadly, be abused. Even here where we clearly state in the rules that the sigs here are invisible to spiders, many idiotic posters still create a keyword rich signature anyway (they don't read the rules or just don't get it).


#9 ForumEngine

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 12:19 PM

I think I should clarify that I'm talking about forums in general, not any particular forum. If you wish to use your forum as an example case, that's ok with me, no problem. But I just want you to know, it's not my intent to discuss this forum. Ok?

QUOTE(Jill @ Aug 27 2011, 12:24 PM) View Post
Good moderating. You won't find a lick of spam here.


I hear ya, but technically there could be spam here until you get a chance to read the new posts. And so you're understandably concerned that somebody is gonna sneak in here and do something you don't like.

What I'm trying to suggest is that the understandable negative emotions admins experience in relation to this topic are all unnecessary, optional.

QUOTE
Right. And while I appreciate you going about it in an unspammy manner, you're still basically here to eventually try to promote whatever product or service you have or will have for this purpose.


Ok, again, I understand why you feel this way. Really, I do.

But in regards to me and this thread, you are simply wrong. As far as I know all major forum software will do what I have in mind. There's no need for anybody to switch to any other software or host etc.

Further, I haven't referenced any of my sites in any of my posts in any way whatsoever. And I'm not going to either. And you can't make me! No amount of torture will get me to do it! :-)

Seriously, from my point of view, this thread isn't about you and me or this forum.

It's about a very widely used publishing model that pits forum admins against forum users unnecessarily. It intrigues me that this whole spam war thing could end, starting today, on any forum that wants to opt out of the spam war. I'm just interested in this idea, that's all.

QUOTE
Not saying you're doing anything wrong, but the purpose and mission of this forum has always been to educate, inspire and to learn.


Understood. And I'm willing to educate and inspire if I can. And learn too.

And I'm trying to do that by illustrating that I'm restricted from doing that in an environment (forums in general, not this forum specifically) where anything I might type makes me a spam suspect.

As example, I'm a programmer, and the most useful thing I have to share on webmaster forums is software. But I can't give my software away for free, no strings attached, because it's my software, and therefore mentioning it is declared spam, and I become an evil doer.

Me and my software isn't important.

But the bigger picture, forums in general, is important. It's become an environment where we're all enemies by default, simply because we're unwilling or unable to manage the spam issue.

QUOTE
Unfortunately, most people are only out for themselves and are only looking for a place to self promote. It's unfortunate, but that's life I guess.


Well, yes, it is life. Forum owners were looking out for themselves when they launched their forums. Everybody has an agenda of some kind.

QUOTE
In the early days here we did have a good community who believed in our mission, but now most people seem to believe that forums (and blog comments too) are simply a marketing vehicle rather than an educational tool. As you say, it may be different in other industries, I don't know as I don't participate in any other online communities outside of the search marketing one.


Few forums I've seen welcome spam. But because this niche is all about marketing by definition, the spam issue seems much more hysterical on webmaster forums than most other niches, which makes sense.

QUOTE
Which is where I think our model of allowing signatures for people but not spiders is the perfect combination.


Ok with me. Again, I debate forums in general, but not what a specific forum admin should do, that's their business.

QUOTE
Others on the forum who gain value from a post are welcome to check out the poster's site and information, but there's no link popularity benefit. Anytime there's a link popularity possibility it will, sadly, be abused.


How about simply not publishing posts that don't add value to a forum? (Please note I said "a forum" not "this forum".)

This is what I'm trying to get at, and I think I should get to it, as the mystery seems to be making me even more suspicious. :-)

Why does the New York Times not have a spam problem?

Simple. They only publish content that meets their goals. They review submitted "posts" prior to publication, dump the bad ones, and publish the good ones.

The Times isn't worried about spam. It's not an issue for them at all. It's not an issue for their readers. Or their writers and contributors. None of the parties involved are mad about spam.

The point...

If the forum mod(s) reviewed content BEFORE it was published, instead of AFTER it is published, the spam problem wouldn't exist.

See? There's nothing to buy here.

Any forum owner can opt out of the spam war any time they want.

The question I'm raising is...

Given how unhappy everybody is, why are we still fighting the spam war?


#10 AffiliateClue

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 07:49 PM

QUOTE
If the forum mod(s) reviewed content BEFORE it was published, instead of AFTER it is published, the spam problem wouldn't exist.


On a busy forum, that would entail hiring full-time staff on three shifts.

There aren't many forums out there that have $10k per month to throw around like that.

#11 Catz

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 12:39 AM

QUOTE
In the early days here we did have a good community who believed in our mission, but now most people seem to believe that forums (and blog comments too) are simply a marketing vehicle rather than an educational tool.

You have always done a much better job of monitoring posts on your forum than others have.

You don't put up with any BS posts, punch.gif which really enhances the experience for those who still come around from the early days, who still believe in your mission!

Educate, inspire and learn, that's my personal mission as an online instructor (and student) as well. Anyone who claims they know everything about a subject just show how little they actually know. Guess that's why I enjoy this forum so much, it's the perfect fit for those whose minds are like a sponge, always looking to soak up new information, as well as those who like to share what they have learned along the way.

It's amazing what some people consider SEO these days. Those of us who got into this a long time ago (before SEO was even a recognized profession) really do have quite an advantage over many of these newbies out there today who consider themselves experts on the subject after reading a few articles.

There are lots of forums out there but this one stands out from the crowd in a positive way...no doubt about it!

#12 ForumEngine

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 03:25 AM

Hi AffiliateClue, thanks for joining in.

QUOTE(AffiliateClue @ Aug 27 2011, 08:49 PM) View Post
On a busy forum, that would entail hiring full-time staff on three shifts.


The majority of forums are relatively small.

On the big forums, or any forum, the question is...

Do the mod(s) currently read the posts added to the forum?

If no, then we can assume they aren't too concerned with spam and junk content. Thus, there isn't really a problem that requires a solution.

If yes, if they are already reading the posts, then we're just changing when they read them. Same amount of work.

If prior approval is used to raise the standards for the forum, then over time it should be less work.

You know, if the mods stop approving low quality posts, members will learn this, and stop submitting them. Thus, less quantity, and more quality. Less reading for the mods, and more rewarding reading.

#13 ForumEngine

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 07:22 AM

10 Steps To A Happier Forum Experience

1) Carefully define a vision for your forum, and clearly articulate that vision to your visitors. What kind of posts do you wish to see on your forum?

2) Review content prior to publication, instead of after publication. Don't publish anything that doesn't serve your vision. Thus, no objectionable post ever appears on your forum, not even for a minute.

3) Explain in a cheerful positive happy post with many smileys and apologies :-) that time restraints prohibit you from discussing your editing decisions on a case by case basis, and that there are no exceptions to this policy. And yes dear poster, that means your post too, so sorry.

4) Reward the posters who deliver the kind content you want on your forum. Give these free writers a defined amount of sig space, allow them to control this sig space (within reason) and make the links dofollow. When you get what you want, say thank you.

5) Don't publish any post that doesn't serve the vision you have for your forum. Delete the accounts of posters who are consistently unable to contribute the kind of content you want.

6) Use this publishing model to distinguish your forum from your competitors. Don't be like everybody else, be different, be better. Be the high quality alternative to the status quo. Tastefully brag about this difference at every opportunity.

7) If time permits, actively recruit the kind of writers you want on your forum, and use the higher quality discussions you can provide as your hook.

8) Remove all references to spam and bad behavior etc from your forum, as they are no longer needed. Be a forum that has nothing to fear, and thus can be entirely welcoming without reservation.

9) Smile, and be happy. Enjoy your friendships with the higher quality writers who begin migrating to your forum, and say goodbye to those you've always wanted to say goodbye to.

10) Always have ten points in any ten point list.








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