Do forum signature links help a sites ranking?

signatureListening to the SEO kiddies on some SEO forums, you can’t help but notice how they heavily promote posting in forums to link drop signatures and profile spam as a way to help build backlinks to a web site to improve its rankings. This kind of advice has significantly increased the fluff posting, nonsense posts and profile spam on forums. Forum admins have had to put in so many strategies to deal with the spam as the techniques used to link drop in forums are getting out of hand.

How good is the advice that forum signatures can actually help with improving a sites ranking? Consider this:

  1. Most forum threads have a Google Page Rank of zero, so there is not going to be much PR available to pass through a signature link.
  2. Most pages on a forum have lots of internal and external links on them, so any link juice has to be shared between all those links (A PR of 0 divided by 100 or so links = nothing).
  3. Signature links are self promotional links and are easy to get. They are not the sorts of links that are editorially given, so are likely to be valued very low, if at all, by search engines anyway. If you were a search engine, how much value would you give these easily gained self-promotional links?
  4. Many forums have the nofollow attribute added to external links. (If they don’t, then they should to put an end to the fluff posting nonsense).
  5. Even though a search engine is showing a forum signature in their backlink sample, does not actually mean that the link is passing any link juice.

In this context, I think signature links are probably worth nothing or next to nothing. That does not mean they can not be a source of traffic if the signature is related to the topic of the forum.

I delete any post and ban the member without any warning if it is clear that they just posting nonsense to link drop a signature (they are easy to recognize and stick out like a sore thumb). They never become a useful member of the community. Additionally, anyone who is a new member and does not post immediately and their IP is from certain countries and has a suspicious looking forum name or email, has their profile checked for a profile link to a non-related site. They are banned (it removes the signature link and/or profile link) before they come back to post. All the links are nofollow’d anyway, so they are not getting any benefit. I do not hide the profiles from search engines as they can be a source of traffic.

What sort of signature links do I like (even though they are nofollow’d): I like the signature links in posts from useful members; from members who want to be a part of and contribute to the overall good of the community. What is a better way than to get other members to click on your signature links than to impress them with the quality of the information they post and the help they give other members … don’t you want to click on the signature links of these people to see what their sites are about? These people are smarter than the SEO kiddies.

Forum admins have to fight back against the SEO kiddies and the advice to post fluff to link drop signatures and profile spam. Make your forum nofollow and ban those who nonsense post. Maybe one day they will get the message.

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