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Thread: Google May Start to Penalize Forum Signature Links

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    TopDogger's Avatar
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    Google May Start to Penalize Forum Signature Links

    I scanned through Google's Link Schemes page that they link to from their Webmaster Guidelines and found an interesting addition. It looks like the spam links that we frequently remove from forum posts are on the list for possible penalties.

    Google may also be getting ready to target signature links with optimized keywords.

    Link Schemes

    Check out the section with examples of unnatural links.

    Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature, for example:
    Thanks, that’s great info!
    - Paul
    paul’s pizza san diego pizza best pizza san diego
    Think about all of the link spammers who have embedded unrelated links in forum posts on perhaps hundreds of forums where they have no ability to remove those links. We have been doing these clowns a favor by deleting their links.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


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    Good find! The assumption has been that Google ignored signature links. I wonder why they now are concerned about them.

    This is new also that low-quality directory or bookmark site links are now considered link schemes. In this respect Google is changing the rules. It wasn't long ago that Google recommended directory links.

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    It must be difficult to detect relevancy automatically on forums.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bogart View Post
    Good find! The assumption has been that Google ignored signature links. I wonder why they now are concerned about them.
    It is probably because they are running out of other issues to use to penalize sites. I suspect they are trying to get more forums to discontinue signature links, or at least nofollow them. Some forums are so loaded with crappy spam links that it is hard to find a legitimate link on any page.

    Quote Originally Posted by bogart View Post
    This is new also that low-quality directory or bookmark site links are now considered link schemes. In this respect Google is changing the rules. It wasn't long ago that Google recommended directory links.
    There aren't very many places left to obtain legitimate directory links. There are only a small number of good quality directories and there are the well-known local business directories.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy101 View Post
    It must be difficult to detect relevancy automatically on forums.
    I agree. The overwhelming majority of signature links are to unrelated sites. It could be difficult and resource-consuming to find the few relevant link needles in the unrelated link haystack. I mentioned several times in NB threads that I did a study a couple of years ago that found no benefit whatsoever from signature links from unrelated forums. There was at that time still a measurable benefit (PR and ranking) from signature links from forums related to the receiving site, but that may be gone today.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


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    Quote Originally Posted by TopDogger View Post
    It is probably because they are running out of other issues to use to penalize sites. I suspect they are trying to get more forums to discontinue signature links, or at least nofollow them. Some forums are so loaded with crappy spam links that it is hard to find a legitimate link on any page.
    Of course you're right Google has been trying to dictate how webmasters run their sites for years. It is just another sign that Google has become too powerful for its own good (and ours). I do hope if Google moves on this that they just chose to ignore those links instead of actually penalizing them, although I haven't used unrelated links for years anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackSheep View Post
    Of course you're right Google has been trying to dictate how webmasters run their sites for years. It is just another sign that Google has become too powerful for its own good (and ours). I do hope if Google moves on this that they just chose to ignore those links instead of actually penalizing them, although I haven't used unrelated links for years anyway.
    They appear to be ignoring them right now. Unrelated forum links have not boosted PR or rankings for at least a couple of years. But these days whenever something shows up in Webmaster Guidelines, it is a warning that penalties will soon follow. I suspect we will see this added to a future Penguin update.

    The Link Schemes page is linked to from Webmaster Guidelines as the example page with linking practices that should be avoided.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


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    Hmmm....my forum sig links change just about every day.
    That should give google something to think about!

    See my links today below?
    Will be different tomorrow for sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iowadawg View Post
    Hmmm....my forum sig links change just about every day.
    That should give google something to think about!


    See my links today below?
    Will be different tomorrow for sure.
    These links should be o.k. according to the link scheme example yor links aren't "optimized links".

    This shouldn't be a problem unless the webmaster has generated massive amounts of signature links with Angela and Pauls back links
    or forum bots like xrumer and Sick Submitter.

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    I translate the word "optimized" to mean those using targeted keywords, which is what the example shows. Those are the types of embedded links that we routinely delete when added to posts, but have not been deleting if they are used in signature links.

    There are lots of people who join forums primarily for signature links, because they mistakenly believe that will boost their backlink profiles and their rankings. Those links are very likely to be penalized.

    Quote Originally Posted by iowadawg View Post
    Hmmm....my forum sig links change just about every day.
    That should give google something to think about!

    See my links today below?
    Will be different tomorrow for sure.
    I don't see anything wrong with your signature links, dawg. However, keep an eye on the Link Schemes page. Sooner or later Google will find a way to penalize everything that webmasters do with their sites. Their rules, as well as Matt Cutts' comments, have encouraged everyone to build links, but now they are finding more ways to use that against us. There isn't anything that they penalize sites for doing that their algorithms have not encouraged in the past.

    I think Google has too much money, too few ways to spend it and too many young eggheads on their teams that have never run a business or a successful web site that they spend hundreds or thousands of hours building. Google has almost completely destroyed the spirit of entrepreneurship for millions of young webmasters as it existed 4 or 5 years ago. I'm not talking about the black hatters or spammers, but about the legitimate small businesses that no longer have much chance for monetary success.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


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    Google is out to rule the internet.
    They got webmasters from the start believing only in google.
    Google for page rank.
    Google for rankings.
    Google for adsense.
    Google for adwords.
    Google for everything.

    Now they are changing rules constantly, just to keep webmasters busy trying to redo their websites.

    Bottom line to me?
    Google is saying, in a not so subtle way, that if you want visitors from us, you will play by our rules and you will pay us for those visitors one way or another.

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