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Google: Link Drops In Forums Is Spam and Will Get The Dropped Site Penalised

     
5:09 pm on May 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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We knew it was bad form, but it's confirmed by Google's John Mueller, dropping links in forums to your site will get your site into trouble, either algorithmically, or manually.

John goes on to indicate that you should clean up those link-drops, too.

For those many people that are still carrying on with the practice, i'll repeat it in plain English: Link drops in forums is considered spam by Google and will get the site dropped penalised. There's no advantage any longer. Give it up! :)

Here's a link drop. ;)

[productforums.google.com...]

[edited by: aakk9999 at 6:55 pm (utc) on May 27, 2014]
[edit reason] typo [/edit]

3:10 am on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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So now Im a spammer because I have my website linked in my signature?

Don't launder your shorts yet. There are other patterns besides the signature that I'm sure Google looks at.

John said...
...can be taking into account by both our algorithms and our manual web-spam teams.

That noted, I'd certainly stop posting signature links.

IMO, promotional signatures, whether linked or not, and whether nofollow or dofollow, end up distorting the nature of posting. I'm glad that Brett realized that when guidelines for WebmasterWorld were set up.
4:27 am on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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That noted, I'd certainly stop posting signature links.

Unless you pose as someone else and post links to their site(s), rather than yours.

I could easily join a forum [or 10 or 100] and link to the site(s) of competitor(s) rather than my site(s) or those I work on since Google will penalize the site(s) that they think link spam via forums signature/link-drops.

Basically, they've given me just one more way of eliminating the competition by posting in forums and link-dropping the competition -- Ugh. Ethics!

Oh, how I wish ethics didn't get in the way of rankings -- I'd rank sites soooo much easier if they didn't -- Google can detect "link dropping spam", so they must be able to "choose to ignore it" rather than penalizing for it.

If link-dropping anywhere was totally ineffective people who stop doing it, but as long as it's an effective negative-seo tool, it will be done.

Sometimes I wish they would change their moto from: "Don't be evil", to, "Don't be stupid"
5:22 am on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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How does Google know if it's a link drop or a link to something else?

If I posted "Go visit WebmasterWorld.com to get an answer to your question" somewhere is that a link drop that will now diminish WebmasterWorld?

Google has basically said don't post links in forums, period, or they will mess up the site you link.

Another way for people to negatively game the system using negative SEO against competitors.

Brace for impact.
5:32 am on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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remember a few years ago (guess - 5-6) when there were hundreds upon hundreds of fake auto generated forums with affiliate links?

That is not what g is talking about now - this is new. It is new and designed to sell AdWords and hurt SEO's. Nothing to come from the Google algo now or in the future should be seen in any other light.
7:18 am on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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So now forum links can be added to the ways available to bring down a competitor. Things like this make me feel helpless. I simply don't have the time (or the know-how) to track down and monitor every back link, so I am at the mercy of Google and whoever decides they would like to devalue my website. :(


In Google's eyes, you're not willing to show "good faith efforts" by emailing every non-existing admin of spammy forums that "you" (read: not you) placed links on....!
7:18 am on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Why do they still keep all these expensive organic search engineers on the payroll?
Just put Adwords and PLAs on Page1 and the spam issue will be solved.
2:42 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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IMHO Google will ruin and is in the process of ruining the Internet with all this stuff. The mantra is to build a site for people not to please Google according to Google yet now Google dictates what everyone can and can't do, it is Google's opinion of a link that "counts" not whether the link is useful to someone using or reading a forum that all of a sudden matters.

Next up, if you search for or heaven forbid EAT spam you will suffer a penalty in the Google rankings.

Remember Google is not the Internet, they don' own the Internet, they don't create anything and there are millions or billions of real people who use the Internet. Create content and place links that are useful and ignore Google.

Should you put a link in a forum where it is relevant, of course! Should you use a sig file (when appropriate) or link from a forum profile to your website, of course! The Internet was designed to be for people to share information and nobody should let Google get in the way of that.
2:52 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I agree Brett_Tabke as we've been wondering since last year if Google is taking site formerly ranking #1 for a lot of keywords and kick them in the pants just to get them to pay up and buy Adwords to get traffic back.
3:06 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Great to see so many mods openly criticise Google in this thread! Posting a link on active "relevant on topic" forums is a legit way to build non Google traffic!

They have basically said don't put your link anywhere now!
3:11 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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So, what happens to Google's ranking if one drops a ton of links to Google in forums?
3:25 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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This thread should have been locked after Martinibuster's post.

Maybe it's time for a "Blow Into a Paper Bag" forum.
3:43 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think the big question is: Will WebmasterWorld be disavowing the link from Bing about closing their forums down and recommending WebmasterWorld, you know, just in case?

[bing.com...]
3:55 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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That is not what g is talking about now - this is new. It is new and designed to sell AdWords and hurt SEO's. Nothing to come from the Google algo now or in the future should be seen in any other light.

Maybe now more then ever is time to place a banner over every website we own... something that reads along these lines: "Care about freedom of information?...stop using Google search!"

I have a friend who did exactly that as well as banned the gboot in robot.txt ... f*7$ this bulcrap! he said. Enough is enough!
4:14 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if Google considers links to Google in forums to be webspam?

Regards...jmcc
4:20 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I was just informed by someone in the industry that the previously MOZ recommended human edited “Jasmin” directory is now nofollowing all outgoing links that were brought as "permanent listings" while allowing dofollow on only the yearly “subscription” links, anyone know if this is true? Looking at some samples most are now nofollow but not all! I guess they are trying to avoid the same fate as the "hot vs not" directory that was recently smacked by appearing to nofollow many of its links?!

Seriously though whos going to pay a "premium" directory for anything less than a "dofollow"? No one!

Interesting MOZ used to have a page up about recoemended "premium" directories and both directories listed above were featured on this page, but this page is now deleted!

Im guessing dmoz will go nofollow soon!?
4:34 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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That's a great idea! If we can get organized and time some events (such as blocking in robots) we might get Google to respect publishers more. We can at least put up a banner or two encouraging people to use Bing or any other search.

goodoldweb said:
"Maybe now more then ever is time to place a banner over every website we own... something that reads along these lines: "Care about freedom of information?...stop using Google search!" I have a friend who did exactly that as well as banned the gboot in robot.txt ... f*7$ this bulcrap! he said. Enough is enough!"
4:37 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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CS2, the more directories that go nofollow, the more valuable the remaining dofollow directories become. I can just imagine directories advertising the fact that they're dofollow in the near future...
4:37 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The latest SE gaming with links seems to be compromised Joomla/Wordpress site with links that are only visible to search engines. The people who have compromised the links change the links periodically and it seems that Google cannot even deal with such a simple issue as this and Payday loan spam. Most of the site owners would be unaware that their site has been compromised.

I just checked a known compromised site and the toxic linked link site in Google. And naturally they are both there in Google's index. There are times when I wonder about the cluefactor in Google and whether it has gone negative with all that waffle about AI and the "Knowledge Graph/Wikipedia scraper". It is very simple to solve the problem as there are serious red flags that any competently designed anti-webspam algorithm would pick up.

Regards...jmcc
5:25 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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IMO, promotional signatures, whether linked or not, and whether nofollow or dofollow, end up distorting the nature of posting.


Short answer
I agree with you Bob, 100%. Distortion happens. All the time. But the forum ecosystem deals with spam and distorted posts. What generally remains are editorially approved links. What remains, apart from the relatively rare spam link here and there that slips by, are links that the forum administrators and the moderators approve of.

Detailed answer
Most anyone posting fluff to gain link pop or to gain traffic is dealt with by the forum ecosystem and disappears. Here are typical ways promotional spam is handled in the real world:

- Mods and admins will delete the siglink and turn off posting privileges.

- Members will perceive a promotional slant and complain to have the promotional member shut down.

- Members and mods will detect fluff posts designed to increase post count and will act to report and remove the fluff poster.

The reason why signature links are allowed is because many quality members are experts and have expert blogs, sites and businesses that other members are interested in. Those members are judged on the quality of their posts. Their signature link remains based on the quality of those posts. Spammers are generally weeded out.

Speaking as a forum owner, I feel it would be tyrannical and a dictatorial overreach should Google require forum owners to no-follow all signature links because those are links administrators vouch for and approve of.
8:35 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The latest SE gaming with links seems to be compromised Joomla/Wordpress site with links that are only visible to search engines. The people who have compromised the links change the links periodically and it seems that Google cannot even deal with such a simple issue as this and Payday loan spam. Most of the site owners would be unaware that their site has been compromised.

Hidden links, which change often, is something that I believe the Russian paid link network "Sape" does. I'm not saying those sites you saw are not compromised, but it sounds like the same MO Sape reportedly uses.
9:41 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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What remains, apart from the relatively rare spam link here and there that slips by, are links that the forum administrators and the moderators approve of.

Yes, this is how it works in well maintained forums. But maybe Google's problem is that they cannot tell the difference between well maintained and moderated forum and ones that are not so well maintained or are even abandoned.

I feel this was a "scare them of posting forum links" tactic.
10:00 pm on May 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hidden links, which change often, is something that I believe the Russian paid link network "Sape" does. I'm not saying those sites you saw are not compromised, but it sounds like the same MO Sape reportedly uses.
These seem to be compromised sites rather than part of a paid link network.

Regards...jmcc
11:30 am on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Maybe now more then ever is time to place a banner over every website we own... something that reads along these lines: "Care about freedom of information?...stop using Google search!"


Its a good idea if G wasnt managed by personalities who will take action against yoursite, everyone linked to your site... and even your aunty Mary ;)
2:57 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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We have a pattern developing.

So Google has a big list of SEO tactics for building links.

Every few months, they pick one and tell us we'd better stop, 'cos, you know...

None of these things are that easy to implement. You can do them in theory, but most times there are too many false negatives/positives.

Google still values sites with links.
SEOs build links.
Google would really rather we stopped.
4:58 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Idle query: Would anyone ever have figured out that links are valuable ... if google hadn't told us?

Who is shooting whom in the foot?
5:06 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Every few months, they pick one and tell us we'd better stop, 'cos, you know...


Google are like the government - they have a queue of already-prepared messages they want to relay to the public, and timing is everything. I'm sure Matt Cutts has 2014 and 2015's calendars already filled up for what he's going to tell the rest of the world - and we'll lap it up as if it's "news".
5:10 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'd add that the slow-release of such "tips" (one at a time, usually one a month or so) from Mueller/Cutts just reminds you that Google are a private company, and everything they do is highly calculated.
5:58 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Would anyone ever have figured out that links are valuable ... if google hadn't told us?


"Link popularity" was being used by search engines before Google came along, and in any case, Larry Page and Sergey Brin wrote an academic paper about PageRank before Google was a company.

The notion that links could be valuable (and not just as citations) isn't something that Google could have kept under a hat.
6:07 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Being completely cynical:
People post links. Other people follow links. Links generate traffic. The traffic does not go through Google and Google doesn't get its cut from advertising. Google doesn't like that.

Regards...jmcc
6:20 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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"(for negative SEO purposes of course)" What an idea what a great idea! So from now on any competitor hires a black SEO and start spreding thousands of posts with links to targeted sites in hundreds of forums....it will be really fun when big sharks start doing this... whos gonna kill each other first! Will it be better that Google just ignore all of those forum links instead of penalizing innocent sites?
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