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One of the websites I run has a message board section in which we currently allow users to post links in messages when it's appropriate. We try to follow the same basic rules that WW uses.
My concern is that if someone posts a link to a site that is considered bad by the search engines it could negatively affect our ranking. Considering how often Google crawls the message board I'm referring to the effect could be felt in a matter of days.
We currently average 7th out of 4,750,000 matches on Google for our most popular two keyword combo and I don't want to risk losing what I've worked so hard to achieve to get us on the first page because of some bad links.
In your opinion how much trouble am I asking for if the cloaking I do is limited to not displaying any links posted in message board threads?
I'm willing to go so far as to limit the display of links to members only, in which case I wouldn't really be cloaking in what seems to be the classic definition of the word.
But I'd like to try classic cloaking first so, let's concentrate on my concerns about that for now. Thanks.
Thanks for your comments Brett.
I am puzzled about your casual attitude regarding the potential negative effects of bad links in your message boards. Especially considering it seems the vast majority of WW is comprised of message boards.
Is this a topic for a different forum? If so I'd like to continue it there.
To see links in messages you have to be a member of the website and logged-in. It's a double opt-in system that takes fives minutes or less to join and costs nothing.
All our members seem to think this is an excellent idea. I personally see no problems with it because if anyone accuses me of cloaking I can point them to our TOS that states you have to be a logged-in member to see the usually very valuable links.
I also think it could have the added benefit of getting more people to become members and take part in the great community we've built and continue to work on.
Does anyone see any possible downside to this approach?