homepage Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.227.67.210
register, free tools, login, search, subscribe, help, library, announcements, recent posts, open posts,
Subscribe to WebmasterWorld
Visit PubCon.com
Home / Forums Index / Marketing and Biz Dev / Link Development
Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: martinibuster

Link Development Forum

This 86 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 86 ( 1 2 [3]     
Automated Forum Profile Link Building - Does it Work?
pepperfield




msg:4217003
 2:43 am on Oct 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

So someone told me about a big reason why he's on page 1 for a particular keyword after a really short period - he's getting 10,000 backlinks a month from an automated software that creates forum profiles.

Can anyone confirm or deny if forum profiles help with SEO? Thanks.

 

Andem




msg:4230763
 10:40 pm on Nov 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I agree with both of your points, incrediBILL & AlexK; however this thread seems to somehow legitimize the use of certain programs as a method of advertising. Until now, I had never even heard of 'Xrumer' but some people might believe that because such a well-respected site like WebmasterWorld mentions it and some members say "xrumer is fine and can be very effective", its completely legit.

I just wanted to point out that before it was mentioned here on WebmasterWorld, I'd never see such a high amount of forum spam on our forums since we started them in 2002 like I'm seeing today.

After digging around for information on 'xrumer', I came to the conclusion that it's a very popular program among blackhats, mostly people who wish destroy the open and democratic nature of the web and social communities just to make a quick buck (usually) trying to scam people.

On actual forum spam posts, we've seen a pretty sizeable decline, mainly because its so difficult now to get past some filters I've created, along with some anti-spam services; posting is also banned from much of the third world now.

CainIV




msg:4230900
 7:03 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Effective is relative to your business model and objectives. Will it gain you short term rankings? I would suggest it will.

Will it gain you long term links that will drive rankings for years? No, at least not for highly competitive genres.

Will it increase the number of backlinks that could potentially be looked at by a manually reviewer down the road and favor against you in their judgment of your website? Possibly.

driller41




msg:4231354
 10:19 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

For some competitive niches programs such as xrumer are critical must have tools - problem with this one is the learning curve is very steep and it really needs it's own server to do it justice.

All is fair in business and war.

Google is just another content scraper who happens to make billions so we all suck up to them.

Suck it up, buttercups. as another poster rightly said.

AlexK




msg:4231394
 12:55 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

driller41:
Google is just another content scraper who happens to make billions

It's similar to the difference between the bacteria in our intestines, and leeches. One lives on the food we eat, and in the process helps us digest our food, and the other is a parasite.

AlexK




msg:4231696
 11:37 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

motorhaven:
(SFS) According to the site, I can download twice daily from it

You may be interested in a recent change on the StopForumSpam Downloads page [stopforumspam.com]: the `Last 24 hours' listing can now be downloaded up to 24 times / day (once an hour); separate downloads for IP numbers, Email Addresses & Usernames.

oddsod




msg:4231978
 3:47 pm on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

On actual forum spam posts, we've seen a pretty sizeable decline, mainly because its so difficult now to get past some filters I've created, along with some anti-spam services; posting is also banned from much of the third world now.

Andem, sorry you're having such problems.

But I don't see why it's such a big issue. Spam on forums is relatively easy to control. OK, I'm going to get some flak for this, but I genuinely feel that it's not a big problem. I run a forum myself (in my profile) which is about a year old now and has near zero or zero spam. Further, the mods have hardly any work to do from one day to the next.

You don't need to ban whole countries, you don't need to have a complex system of filters. You just need to accept a simple truth and deal with it.

I've had extensive discussions about this on my own forum with the likes of people like the Sitepoint admins (a forum much larger than mine which was struggling with spam) and advised them on how to do this. With a few simple steps 99.9% of all forum spam can be eliminated very easily. We did it and that's on a forum about buying/selling websites and making money online - a spam magnet if there ever was one!

The simple truth is one that forum owners are reluctant to accept: If you kill the account of any new poster who makes a fluff post, you'll eliminate most spammers. The problem is that forum owners want to allow fluff but stop spam. It gives them more members, more posts, more threads. But fluff and spam are too closely linked and it's not worth keeping the fluff posters. Further, it's not worth keeping lurkers either. If they've never made a post, delete their butts. No bans, no infractions. That's all little girl stuff.

Since fluff and spam go hand in hand you need to have all kinds of systems in place to try and differentiate one from the other. Systems and filters make life difficult for everyone. Eliminate fluff and spam together!

Here's a simple solution:
1. Tie in with stopforumspam or someone to block known spam IPs from opening accounts.
2. Make clear that all facilities on the forum - from access to editing a profile to signature links to PMs to even posting are privileges and need to be earned (and accounts keep getting moved up the ladder based on account age and number of posts).
3. All new users' posts go into moderation till they've earned the right to post live.
4. Have strict rules about fluff. Anyone with less than x posts has to demonstrate his ability to make quality posts. If not, he's history (I know, I know, most of you admins are squeamish about this. But I have no mercy with low quality posters - kick them out!)
5. Periodically delete every account that has less than x posts. Low quality posters will never acquire enough posts to become regular members. This also eliminates the low post lurkers. Contrary to advice here from people whose opinion I value and who have a lot more experience than I do with forums, I decided to not tolerate lurkers. That's been one of the best decisions I made. Even the ability to subscribe to threads etc., are privileges. You earn them by posting. If you can't/won't contribute you can just bl**dywell browse the forum as a visitor, you don't need to be hogging an account!

For an established forum that already has thousands of members, this can still be done but you need to proceed a bit more carefully. However, the core principles still apply. It doesn't matter how many posts a member has. If they can't make anything except fluff posts, kill the account. I've tested this on a forum I bought that has tens of thousands of members, has been around for several years and has hundreds of thousands of threads.

It works!

smallcompany




msg:4232237
 4:32 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

As this is about getting backlinks and ranking, I thought I would mention what I browsed about just few minutes ago:

I just came across few pieces of software that do SEO and Social Marketing. Two of them had an old fashioned one kilometer long page that made my hair go up, and one was from a company that I knew from the past. They make SEO optimization related stuff.
The features are to create accounts across multiple social networks, post articles, create blogs, submit RSS feeds, create bookmarks, etc.
All is marketed to be automated. I guess you're required to enter your data which is used to by this software to do it for you. You still need to have articles written in order to post them around.

Anyway, I have never used anything like this. Did anyone else here?

To me, this is at least bit "whiter" than fake forum profiles. Here you participate in various social networks while contributing like if you would do it manually.

Marvin Hlavac




msg:4232330
 11:45 am on Nov 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

To me, this is at least bit "whiter" than fake forum profiles. Here you participate in various social networks while contributing like if you would do it manually.


No result of such automated process can ever be called a "contribution". It can only be called SPAM.

SEOPTI




msg:4232954
 6:51 am on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

The question is, is there any harm with this tacits? Answer:no
You just create an account, you do not spam the forum or blog.

This is simply taking advantage of dumb code of forums and of all the dumb search engines which see it as a link and pass on trust.

I think it is time for forum and search engine owners to make these links nowollow.

Why are all these profile pages dofollow? I think the coder smoked marihuana or he has no clue at all. I suggest you code your own forum software, see webmasterworld.

So some people here really think it is spam creating a profile? Check your email inbox and you will see real spam. Some people just don't get it. Go ahead and code your own stuff. Stop whining it will not help at all, learn coding and stop spam.

motorhaven




msg:4233057
 5:19 pm on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

The answer is yes, there is harm. You are harming forum owners and moderators who have to spend time deleting spam users and profiles, and/or spending time/resources installing, creating or modifying software to stop it. Justifying it by saying there are loopholes in some forum software doesn't justify the actions of those using the loopholes to spam. Its like saying someone speeding is only doing it because the car allows them to speed. You are creating pages which takes up unnecessary space in their databases, and adds to the overall bandwidth the site users, however small. You are using someone's else's forum solely for your benefit not theirs. Not everyone in this world starts a forum to learn PHP or anti-spamming techniques... they do it because they are passionate about a certain topic. I've had to go in and clean up this sort of mess and prevent it from happening on forums, and they end up spending money paying someone like me to do it, so there is direct financial harm to those owners.

There will always be folks who will justify a form of spamming, and SEOPTI that's exactly what you are doing. So, while you claim the forum owners are whiners, it seems on the other side of the coin there's some shucking and jiving. On the one hand you say its not spam, then in the last sentence you say it is. This sort of thing adds nothing of value to the forums or its users. If this is the sort of thing you do (for yourself or clients), then IMHO its hardly professional SEO tactics.

oddsod




msg:4233058
 5:24 pm on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Check your email inbox and you will see real spam.

Using your own argument spam doesn't exist in email inboxes either. Any spam you get is your own fault for not having better spam blocking software.

incrediBILL




msg:4233097
 7:23 pm on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

SIMPLEST ANTI-SPAM EVER: Couple of lines of javascript to check for key clicks making sure it's a human typing during registration or during blog posts makes tools like xrumer completely useless.

Yes, I force javascript on my users to stop spam, and
No, it hasn't hurt my site performance or caused member outrage whatsoever.

If it did cause member outrage, I'd probably tell them to go read the spam elsewhere.

I also require email validation on all accounts and those that don't validate their email accounts are automatically purged in 5 days.

There will be a bunch of backlash here about the practice of requiring javascript, but I don't care (aka save your breath), it stops spam cold, and in actual practice most have javascript enabled anyway.

A few years back I was overrun with spammers and spamming attempts until I implemented this.

Today I have none, zero, nada.

They simply gave up, no trace of spam attempts in the log files, nothing.

AlexK




msg:4233308
 4:08 am on Nov 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

incrediBILL:
Couple of lines of javascript

What are they, and placed where, please?

incrediBILL




msg:4233348
 5:59 am on Nov 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

it can be this simple:


<script>
function SendForm(form) {
keystrokes(form);
form.action="submitform.html";
form.p_is_bot.value="...hash code...";
form.submit();
}

function keystrokes(form) {
form.p_strokes.value = form.p_strokes.value + 1;
}
</script>



<form method="post" name="testform" ) >
<input type=text name="content" maxlength=120 size=50 onkeypress="keystrokes(this.form)"><br>
<input type=submit onclick="SendForm(this.form); return(false);" name="B1" value="SUBMIT" ><br>
<input type=hidden name="p_is_bot" value="Y"><br>
<input type="hidden" name="p_strokes" value="0">
</form>


If p_is_bot comes back as "Y" and p_strokes=0 we know either a) it's really a bot or b) they didn't have javascript enabled, at that point I typically toss the submission in my moderation queue or kick it back with "PLEASE ENABLE JAVASCRIPT AND RESUBMIT".

The above code is simplistic and simply counts all keys pressed and returns that value to the server script. I use something more complex that kicks off a formula that creates a key for the input data that the server side script verifies, but it's overkill at the moment because something as simple as shown will currently stop most, if not all, automated scripts.

When everyone starts doing this the spammers will just send the p_strokes value themselves, which is when you change the formula and break it.

That's the real key here, it'll never work if everyone uses the exact same thing so something as simple as making each keypress +2 or +3 will break it or multiply the result by some fudge factor before submitting, anything to keep it unique.

Heck, the script could easily be modified by PHP code each time it displays a page just to frustrate the spammers, even making the names of the scripts random gibberish so there's no "keystroke" function footprint in the code.

The hash code in the p_is_bot field links the request to the IP requesting and some other criteria I used to make sure it's a full round trip, not cached and being served up repeatedly as default values, but that's probably overkill as well.

Plus, I require a cookie to be set that tracks the current session, so it's either a real browser or a real fancy spammer, no arm chair programmer kiddie scripts slip thru the cracks.

I also validate the user agent and some other criteria, it's a real security checkpoint :)

Simplistic? yeah.

Stops spam? for now, yeah.

NOTE: p_strokes counts all keystrokes, backspaces, etc. so the actual length of the text rarely matches p_strokes, plus the SUBMIT button adds +1, the whole idea is to see if keys were pressed. You can make is more sophisticated obviously, but this just shows the basics of how the concept works.

Andem




msg:4234051
 2:20 pm on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

>> ... Spam on forums is relatively easy to control. OK, I'm going to get some flak for this, but I genuinely feel that it's not a big problem. I run a forum myself (in my profile) which is about a year old now and has near zero or zero spam. Further, the mods have hardly any work to do from one day to the next.

It isn't easy to control when they specifically target your forum at times of the day when your moderators are sleeping. They literally show up minutes after the moderators log off and spam away. The next morning we end up deleting up to hundreds of messages spread across threads under many different user names all coming from various countries including Brazil, China, India and even sometimes the U.S.

>> The simple truth is one that forum owners are reluctant to accept: If you kill the account of any new poster who makes a fluff post, you'll eliminate most spammers.

I hate fluff posters and even when some of our regulars post fluff, I just delete their posts and pm them asking for less of that.

>> 1. Tie in with stopforumspam or someone to block known spam IPs from opening accounts.

I currently use Akismet. It actually does cut down a lot of forum spam.

>> 2. Make clear that all facilities on the forum - from access to editing a profile to signature links to PMs to even posting are privileges and need to be earned (and accounts keep getting moved up the ladder based on account age and number of posts).

Got it! All users with less than a certain number of posts are automatically filtered with Akismet, have no PM privileges and lack access to doing many things. In fact both postcount and age of account are taken into consideration.

Spam still manages to get through, unfortunately. They are also usually with a common user agent like Firefox or MSIE.

>> You just create an account, you do not spam the forum or blog.

Completely absurd. You leech off of other peoples' resources if you create these profiles. Either way, every external site on our forums are nofollow. Unfortunately, most spammers are too lazy to bother checking or they just leave everything up to automation; unfortunately I believe most of our spammers now are doing it manually.

oddsod




msg:4234109
 5:09 pm on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Andem, it may take a small change in how you do things. If you're deleting hundreds of posts everyday, I really feel for you.

With respect spammers targeting your forum at times when mods are sleeeping - why are first time posters trusted enough to make public posts? That's crazy. When I wake up and look at my forum, there's (sometimes!) overnight spam. But it's not visible to the public. It's very simply taken care of: I delete the account/s behind them and all the spam goes. If their posts aren't going public, these spammers won't keep making posts! They'll figure out after 2-3 posts that it's a waste of time and move on.

Fluff:
1. Have a clear explanation of what you consider fluff.
2. Expect everyone to comply.
3. Ban
We follow Brett's rules here. My members follow my rules. It's quite simple - your members have to follow yours.

All users with less than a certain number of posts are automatically filtered with Akismet, have no PM privileges and lack access to doing many things.

Yes, but they can make public posts?! They've earned no trust, why do they have this main privilege?

Do you delete accounts that aren't contributing to the forum? What's your policy on lurkers?

CainIV




msg:4235116
 3:35 am on Nov 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

IncrediBill - excellent and simple way of eliminating spam. Valuable post there in regards to using javascript to detect keystrokes!

Andem




msg:4235403
 7:41 pm on Nov 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

>> Yes, but they can make public posts?! They've earned no trust, why do they have this main privilege?

Yes, I do allow new members to post without moderation. Thankfully, the country- and content-based filters I have applied automatically filter posts. This works woderfully with the exception of some persistent spammers every now and then targeting my userbase demographic specifically. We have a high turnover rate because of the topics we discuss; meaning if a user is moderated, there is a high chance they won't continue discussing the topic (current events, mostly).

>> Do you delete accounts that aren't contributing to the forum? What's your policy on lurkers?

I don't. The reason being is that forum membership and site membership go hand-in-hand. Users don't get access to certain functions not related to the forums if they aren't signed in. Users with unconfirmed email addresses are eliminated after a period of time and also don't have access to anything except a notice regarding email confirmation.

But back to the main topic: To combat these profile spammers, I've had to take the unfortunate step of completely removing web sites from the "edit profile" pages. I really hope this will cut down on the bogus registrations when they figure out they can't add urls. They obviously didn't realise that we don't even include urls on profile pages to begin with.

Most of these clowns seem to have a user-agent identifying as Firefox 3.5.6.

NixRenewbie




msg:4236241
 12:53 pm on Nov 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Andem, I'm not finding fault with what you have done, but with what the BH have done. The internet is the one good voice that many in third world (and even 1st & 2nd world) countries have. That we have to shut the door on entire peoples just sucks rocks. But if we don't shut the door on them, we can't keep it open for anyone. I agree ... it's time for governments to get off the pot. If they won't stop the spammers, then let us.

satrap




msg:4238122
 1:16 am on Dec 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

... Has anybody ever seen any backlinks from profile pages listed in the "Links to Your Site" section of Google's Webmaster Tools? That's a test I use to judge whether or not Google gives any value to a backlink.


Just because you don't see any backlinks from form profiles when using a backlink checker tool, it doesn't mean Google isn't counting it.

Feydakin




msg:4238603
 4:42 am on Dec 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

We have gotten a lot more aggressive with deleting these types of accounts.. Profile page links are noindex and nofollow, plus we purge the userbase on a regular basis.. O post members get no mercy and are deleted often.. Even single post members get deleted if they never return.

Yes, this does cut way down on the number of members we show has having, but I'd rather show 6k real people than 50k profile spammers..

Planet13




msg:4260247
 8:27 pm on Jan 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think this thread has gotten pretty far off course of the original question, which was:

Automated Forum Profile Link Building - Does it Work?


So I would like to re-ask the original poster's question:

Is using automated forum profile software an effective way of increasing Page Rank and increasing position in the SERPs?

Please understand this is not a question about morality. Nor is it a question about the best remedies for BLOCKING spam posts on sites that rely on user-generated content.

It is a question on the effectiveness of boosting one's SERPs by creating forum profiles on a wide scale.

almighty monkey




msg:4270539
 12:59 pm on Feb 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Lot of butthurt people being beaten in the SERPS by spammers all up in this thread.

ENTERING ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE ZONE

I tried forum spamming, alone, on a personal project. I got to first for a medium-competitive keyword for about 3-4 months. I think it was 10,000 profiles I bought. Then it vanished off the face of Google.

Still managed to make 300 profit from that little experiment, which, I'm not going to lie, was welcomed over Christmas time.

LEAVING ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE ZONE

Planet13




msg:4340728
 10:03 am on Jul 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've written a quick script which does an hourly download from Stopforumspam and automatically blocks the IPs listed in their database.


yeah but the people who are using the spam software are downloading new proxy servers every hour as well, so they are constantly coming up with new IPs.

I don't understand what deleting fluff posts would have to do with stopping spam. None of the blackhat forums I've ever read suggest that spammers make a couple of fluff posts before spamming. If I were a spammer, the last thing I would do is make a fluff post. I would just want to spam you and move on (btw: I am NOT a spammer, in case you are wondering.)

IncrediBill's idea seems pretty good.

CainIV




msg:4344374
 6:11 am on Jul 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

In my experience - yes it can work. Momentarily.

And it can "not work" just as fast.

Google has a myriad of very advanced ways to detect patterns in inbound link profiles.

When compared to link profile data from your competitors it is unlikely even a small percentage would have links from this many forum profiles.

So it is likely that you will, have, or would eventually trip a filter.

It's all about creating a very natural and diverse linking profile and staying within some reasonable parameters set forth by your competitors.

This doesn't mean get your competitor links, it means understand their links and link metrics, and build profile over time, and try to create your own version of it.

martinibuster




msg:4344390
 7:19 am on Jul 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

None of the blackhat forums I've ever read suggest that spammers make a couple of fluff posts before spamming.


In order to not get deleted the forum spammers have progressed to more subtle ruses in order to appear legit so as to pass the average moderator sniff test. Fluff posts are just one of many variations that forum spammers take. There is fluff that is designed to not appear fluffy, like a real post. The idea behind fluff and other similar and more sophisticated techniques is that push button forum spam is removed from active forums with vigilant mods. But most forum mods are chosen for skills in their niche more than their community management/spam fighting abilities. Thus, the subtle spam with more sophisticated fluff will make it past the average forum mod and remain. There are more details to this method that I have seen professional forum spammers use, but I'm not going to detail them because I don't want to be the cause of more forum spam. It's not something I do or recommend.

This 86 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 86 ( 1 2 [3]
Global Options:
 top home search open messages active posts  
 

Home / Forums Index / Marketing and Biz Dev / Link Development
rss feed

All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.
Home ¦ Free Tools ¦ Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About ¦ Library ¦ Newsletter
WebmasterWorld is a Developer Shed Community owned by Jim Boykin.
© Webmaster World 1996-2014 all rights reserved