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Poison word Forum

 6:29 am on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

First of all ... thanks brett for the highly useful SE Quarterly.

Secondly to all,,

Brett makes the point on poison words that the word "forum" will cause problems with rankings on Search engines.

this is a major problem for us as indeed the title of our site and url included the word "forum", though it is not a discussion board but an ezine with columnists, articles, etc. It is 6 years old and has built up reasonable brand equity on the Web for its targeted readership.

This may well explain why we took a BIG drop on AV 6-8 months ago.

We had a meeting today and suggestions go from changing the name of the site by dropping the forum appelage altogether, and lots of other less drastic solutions. But all are drastic considering the brand equity we have built up in the name. We are linked from many places with the "Forum" name.

I would try to explain this to AV, but we gave up after 6 emails over 2 months where we got increasingly general and form mail replies to specific questions, (put descriptive copy at the top, etc etc). They replied alright (and very quick too - 2 to 3 days) but so far all we have got is general form based replies.

My question to all, is it worth it to lose that brand equity or are there any other suggestions?



 7:24 am on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

Much sympathy, Chiyo. When search engines create situations where sites must jump through hoops, it's almost like reverse spamming!

Obviously this is a big judgement call -- brand equity is quite valuable. In business, I would normally not consider a full out name change. At most, a new name that sounds like an evolution, rather than an abrupt "new thing". Even then the new name should be reminiscent of the original name.

However, the web is an all-new game, so I can understand a possible need for drastic measures. Here are some of the thoughts that came to mind:

Use a gif for the site name in the page header (or anywhere else it simply MUST appear) and thereby remove the actual text word "forum". You might well be able to design, say, a home page and a sitemap/doorway without using the "f" word in text at all.

Does your site have an acronym you can use when refering to yourself? Would the acronym be a good new name?

Is it important to have many pages well ranked, or would just one or two be sufficient to bring the needed traffic?

What percent of your traffic comes from the engines (or used to)? If it's high, it seems like you might want to bite the bullet. If you are doing more from links and word-of-mouth, maybe you can afford to ignore the slipping rank.

Best wishes on this. If you do decide to go drastic, make it quick, clean and surgical. But give a storm warning to your old and faithful traffic.


 9:59 am on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

Many thanks Tedster for the great ideas.

We use an acronym but when we do we lose the descriptive title. And agree very much with the evolution idea. We have evolved an enormous amount in 6 years but not the title!

We do tend to get a fair bit of traffic from SE;s mainly Google, Yahoo-Google and lately MSN and "surprisingly" Go/Infoseek. Actually we are quite happy with eveything except AV which has gone from a top refereer to a middling to low one.

We are thinking of just taking the "forum" bit off all the references in our own site. (Mega Search and Replace!) Our name is actually something something something forum so dropping the forum wouldnt be just that bad.. it just leaves us with averu generic title.

Excuse my reticence to provide the URL, but we are a bit shy when we trust 99% of the people here, but not the 1%!


 1:02 pm on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

Mmmm. Had no idea that "forum" was a poisonous word until I read the quarterly. Added a New ********** forum! header to the default page of one of my sites. Going to delete it now and zap "no index tags" to the forum section.


 1:27 pm on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)


Why not just Reg a new domain and make a mirror of the site and submit that to AV. OP this site just for AV well the front page. That way you can DODGE the "F" Word and get your traffic again. You will also not lose your Site Name


Dr. Bill


 12:36 pm on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

I've also heard that, for some engines, words like "buy" "sale", "shipping" and "credit card" are poison and bring significant ranking penalties.

Can any one confirm this, and if so, what engines? I have some suspicions in this area, but wonder about others experience here.


 7:11 pm on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

add to the rumor mill "catalog"


 9:41 pm on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

I also remember from the "Buddy Links" days that "links" and "resources" can also be killers for page rank.

Mastah Blastah

 10:12 pm on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

I can understand where the engines are comming from, news and forum type sites with 100's of posts all on different pages are crap. Looking up something in an engine and getting 2000 pages from some crappy web-forum is the worst.

It all goes back to my theory: the search engines want good results, I wish all SEO activities would stop and people would end their twiddling with the engines, they might actually begin to produce decent results.

Remember if your using a 'technique' that bolsters your useless and crappy page and if many others are using the same 'technique' then the engine will go whole-hog trying to find a way to get those pages out of their index. If your pages are good, then they will stick and even if they slip for a bit, they will just climb back up.

If your 'technique' uses some sort of signature or your making bad pages with a signature that they can filter, they will. They don't hate you, your not their enemy, it's not a war, they just want good results.


 10:23 pm on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

Buddy links weren't designed to rank well for anything. The idea was to create link popularity.

I agree that twiddling with links pages to achieve rankings is not good. Links pages simply need to be indexed. I always make sure my links pages show up in the 500 to 1000 range for any terms that are on them. I just want the links listed in the DB.

Mastah Blastah

 10:46 pm on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

Alright I was sinking back to the dark days of link pages.


A link page should not exist, unless your a search engine, or directory.

A link on your page, referring to external content or because someone gave you content, thats ok. A link for link's sake is of dubious worth, and I'm sure it will be cracked down upon sooner or later.

You don't really need to link to someones page unless you've got a reason to. Linking to a win 95 drivers site in my article about win 95 drivers is ok. Linking to another company with non-compete but similar products that might be of interest to my customers, that's fine.

Linking to a random 20 sites on a links page is just stupid, especially if there is no explaination for the link, or no link to that page from anywhere else on my site.

PS oh I don't really care if the only reason to do it is to get ranking, ranking-be-damned

I'd really like to blow the bloated useless corpse of the Search Engine off the face of the Earth.


 10:54 pm on Sep 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

>>A link on your page, referring to external content or because someone gave you content, thats ok. A link for link's sake is of dubious worth, and I'm sure it will be cracked down upon sooner or later.

Absolutely. Hence the demise of Buddy Links (among other reasons). Theme'ing has also made many of the linking systems impotent.

>>I'd really like to blow the bloated useless corpse of the Search Engine off the face of the Earth.

Some days I'm right there with you. I'll wire up the TNT - you push the plunger ;) but at the end of the day SEO is paying my student loans :)


 1:41 am on Sep 15, 2000 (gmt 0)

I know your pain chiyo. We are in the same boat right here with 'forum'. I'm sure at some I may submit some pages out of here to se's. It will require redoing "forum" through out the software and all links (oh joy).

I'm not so positive that forum in the domain name is necc too harmful. If it is strung along with other words "funtalkforum.com" I'd think it would be ok. The pause for concern maybe if it is a third level domain (forum.funtalk.com), or dashes (funtalk-forum.com). I say that not based on specifically the word "forum" but what I've experienced with other keywords.

What I would do, is try to do a bit of 'hiding' of "forum" from the se's. Reduce it's number of overall occurences on your site. Things like switching places where it is printed to the screen prominently to a graphic display instead. If you have menu's or links with the word forum in them, change that. Move your branding away from text words into graphics.

Obviously, if it is the name of the site, you are in a tough spot. I feel if you just reduce the overall exposure of the word to the se's, you'll be better off. It will 'water' down the density of "forum" that the spiders find.

Last thought: if you are running stock widely distributed forum software (read: UBB), figure out how to hide the key phrases that UBB uses on all pages (eg: ubb and mandrona park).


 3:59 pm on Sep 16, 2000 (gmt 0)

thx brett and all....

yep we will be keeping the brand name (too valuable to lose) but losing much of the ocurance of the word "forum" in page content.


 1:29 pm on Oct 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

Brett, Do you think having forum in a URL linking your main page to the various forum sections could be a major issue? For example this site has several URLs which link to the forum directory.


 9:27 am on Oct 8, 2000 (gmt 0)

Shri, I don't think so in a link. I am more concerned about it in a url or filename. A domain name with the word forum in it, isn't all that bad from what I can deduce. I'd get worried when the word forum pops up heavy in a density check of any page.


 4:33 am on Nov 21, 2000 (gmt 0)


Would going Thesaurical be your avenue of traversement?
If so: sypmosium, seminar, colloquium, open discussion, seminaroutlet, medium, platform, etc. my be routes applicable, eh?

Sometimes I wonder if the Queen appreciates the travesties I execute upon 'her' lingo.


 5:26 am on Nov 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

.....or is that Thesauricate?


 9:07 pm on Jan 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi, I'm a new member. I'm in the process of starting my own SEO company in San Diego, CA.

I recently spent $250 registering domain names with "search engine optimization" in the domain name. After having done this, I found out that "search engine" is a poison word, and now I'm really concerned. Am I justified in my concern or is this something that I shouldn't worry about?

Some previous posters in this thread mentioned that this shouldn't be too much of a cause for concern, but didn't go in to detail as to how they came to that conclusion.

Any comments or advice would be greatly appreciated.




 11:01 pm on Jan 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi Gil,

Welcome to WmW. This is quite an old thread. I don't think having search engine optimization in your domain names will cause any type of negative penalty, but it won't really help either.

If you bought them expecting them to provide you with any kind of significant boost, I think you will probably be dissapointed.


 8:49 am on Feb 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebGuerilla, since this is an old thread (quite!) I am curious if there have been any signifcant changes since the time of the original posts. I am certain that new POISON words have surfaced due to overuse, but I am also curious as to whether the poisonous words of a year or so ago have lessened in their toxicity?

Reading the associated threads has been very useful. I have rethought my TITLE naming conventions, though in truth I do aim for originality and clear definition. But some of the words marked as POISON made me sit up and take notice - and then realise how obvious at least some of them were.

Very interesting!

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