by Matthew Rasmusson

John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, created quite a stir in the search engine optimization (SEO) community when he commented in the Webmaster section of Google’s Product Forums. Someone had created a post asking if including a link in their profile on a forum site would be viewed as spam and hurt their rankings. Since his response is fairly short, I’ve quoted it in its entirety below:

Just to be absolutely clear, if you are dropping links to your site in other people’s forums in the hope of gaming search engines, then that’s considered web-spam and can be taking into account by both our algorithms and our manual web-spam teams. It doesn’t matter how much “PR” the other site has, it doesn’t matter if it’s a .gov forum — what you’re doing would be considered web-spam by us.

If you care about how search engines like Google view your site, I’d recommend cleaning those link-drops up, removing the link to your site, and not doing that in the future.

Cheers

John

May 24, 2014 post on Google Product Forums

It is doubtful that this coincides with an algorithmic update, nor is it likely that this represents a change in Google’s policies. Google does not like spammy link building practices and it never has. But the stir in the SEO community is not entirely unwarranted. Google preaches relevance for link building and oftentimes a niche forum can be the location of the most up-to-date, relevant discussion in your sector. So then, why penalize the creation of relevant links?

Much like with the fall of guest blogging as a legitimate source of relevant links (more on this below), Google has come to the conclusion that for the most part, link dropping on forums has become a spammy practice. In the words of Matt Cutts, “This is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains.”

This doesn’t mean that you need to scour your link profile for anything resembling a forum. It doesn’t even mean that the forum links that you do have need to be removed. Forums are a part of the Internet and if they represent a reasonable size of your link profile, then you have no need to worry. On the other hand, if they represent an unnaturally large portion of your link profile, a manual penalty might be right around the corner.

That said, here are some best practices going forward on forum links:

  • If you actively contribute to multiple forums, remove or nofollow links on your profile or signature. These links are repeated every time you post and this can send Google a spammy signal. If you are only participating on one forum, it is unlikely that Google would interpret this as spam.
  • Do not link-drop your own website on multiple forums, at least not regularly. Not only is this risky behavior for your link profile, but most actively moderated forums will give you the boot the second they think you are a marketer.

While we are on the subject, let’s take a look at some other spammy practices that Google has cracked down on so that you can avoid repeating the mistakes yourself or hiring SEO companies that employ these outdated, dangerous tactics.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging started off innocently enough. “Let me contribute a piece of valuable content to your site in exchange for a link back to mine.”

Sounds like no big deal, right? Well, in SEO, the best type of link, Page Rank/Domain Authority aside, is one full of keywords that you are trying to rank for. With guest blogging, you control the content and the anchor text (the text that is linked) for your links. As more and more search engine optimizers (SEOs) realized this, more and more guest blogs were written and published, devaluing the practice and causing Google to alter its stance on the subject. Matt Cutts wrote about the subject on his personal blog to clarify Google’s position on guest blogging.

Now, your best bet with guest blogging is to nofollow any links contained in blogs that you are contributing to other sites or publishing on your own. This way, Google has no reason to penalize you and you can still drive traffic through your guest blogs. So, if your site provides visitors with a quality experience, some portion of them will naturally link back to it.

Blog Comment Spam

It is hard to rely on other webmasters to create links. In SEO, we are constantly relying on the benevolence of others to add links to articles, fix broken ones, or otherwise make changes to their website. Since this can be a frustratingly slow process, it is little wonder that SEOs quickly jump on any practice that allows them to add the links themselves. That is exactly what we have with blog comments. You can make an account and directly post on someone else’s website, as long as you can pass a CAPTCHA.

This practice has been similarly used and abused by SEOs, even to the point that programs have been written that automatically add comments to thousands of sites at a time, all including links back to the site they are trying to rank. Employing this method is a surefire way to end up with a manual penalty from Google.

How can you avoid this one? Stop adding links to your site in your blog comments, assuming you comment on blogs. Also, if your SEO company tells you they have generated an astronomical number of links and your rankings have exploded, chances are they are employing this method or a similar one and your results will be fleeting.

Directory Link Spam

Like I said before, if there is a practice that allows SEOs to create a link themselves, they will seize it. Directory link spam describes the practice of creating profiles on a massive number of directory sites without giving much thought to the value of those sites. Not all directory listings are bad. Yelp, for example, is a high quality local business directory, which coincidently does not allow for followed links to be added to your profile. However, if you are relying on solely directory listings for your link building strategy, you are playing with fire.

How can you avoid this? Practice good judgment when you are choosing directory sites to create profiles on. If you were a regular visitor on the directory site in question, would you use it to find what you are looking for? If not, it probably is not worth your time and may even end up hurting your SEO.

These are only a few of the spammy link techniques that SEOs will employ. I did not touch on paid links because avoiding them goes without saying. If you have any other practices you think need to be highlighted, post them in the comments below. Just don’t include links to “cheap ugg boots.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Partners

partners
facebook marketing partner
google partner
shopify logo
hubspot partner program

Home Office

Phone

European Office

Agentur Webfox

Berlin, Germany

Join Our Newsletter!

@ 2023 Points Group / All Rights Reserved

Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy governs the manner in which Points Group, LLC collects, uses, maintains and discloses information collected from users (each, a “User”) of the https://www.pointsgroup1.10web.me website (“Site”). This privacy policy applies to the Site and all products and services offered by Points Group, LLC.

PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION

We may collect personal identification information from Users in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, when Users visit our site, subscribe to the newsletter, respond to a survey, fill out a form, and in connection with other activities, services, features or resources we make available on our Site. Users may visit our Site anonymously. We will collect personal identification information from Users only if they voluntarily submit such information to us. Users can always refuse to supply personal identification information, except that it may prevent them from engaging in certain Site related activities.

NON-PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION

We may collect non-personal identification information about Users whenever they interact with our Site. Non-personal identification information may include the browser name, the type of computer and technical information about User’s means of connection to our Site, such as the operating system and the Internet service providers utilized and other similar information.

WEB BROWSER COOKIES

Our Site may use “cookies” to enhance User experience. User’s web browser places cookies on their hard drive for record-keeping purposes and sometimes to track information about them. User may choose to set their web browser to refuse cookies, or to alert them when cookies are being sent. If they do so, note that some parts of the Site may not function properly.

HOW WE USE COLLECTED INFORMATION

Points Group, LLC may collect and use Users personal information for the following purposes:

  • To improve customer service
  • Information you provide helps us respond to your customer service requests and support needs more efficiently.
  • To personalize user experience
  • We may use information in the aggregate to understand how our Users as a group use the services and resources provided on our Site.
  • To improve our Site
  • We may use feedback you provide to improve our products and services.
  • To run a promotion, contest, survey or other Site feature
  • To send Users information they agreed to receive about topics we think will be of interest to them.
  • To send periodic emails
  • We may use the email address to respond to their inquiries, questions, and/or other requests. If User decides to opt-in to our mailing list, they will receive emails that may include company news, updates, related product or service information, etc. If at any time the User would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.

HOW WE PROTECT YOUR INFORMATION

We adopt appropriate data collection, storage and processing practices and security measures to protect against unauthorized access, alteration, disclosure or destruction of your personal information, username, password, transaction information and data stored on our Site.

SHARING YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

We do not sell, trade, or rent User’s personal identification information to others. We may share generic aggregated demographic information not linked to any personal identification information regarding visitors and users with our business partners, trusted affiliates and advertisers for the purposes outlined above. We may use third party service providers to help us operate our business and the Site or administer activities on our behalf, such as sending out newsletters or surveys. We may share your information with these third parties for those limited purposes provided that you have given us your permission.

THIRD PARTY WEBSITES

Users may find advertising or other content on our Site that link to the sites and services of our partners, suppliers, advertisers, sponsors, licensors and other third parties. We do not control the content or links that appear on these sites and are not responsible for the practices employed by websites linked to or from our Site. In addition, these sites or services, including their content and links, may be constantly changing. These sites and services may have their own privacy policies and customer service policies. Browsing and interaction on any other website, including websites which have a link to our Site, is subject to that website’s own terms and policies.

CHANGES TO THIS PRIVACY POLICY

Points Group, LLC has the discretion to update this privacy policy at any time. When we do, we will revise the updated date at the bottom of this page. We encourage Users to frequently check this page for any changes to stay informed about how we are helping to protect the personal information we collect. You acknowledge and agree that it is your responsibility to review this privacy policy periodically and become aware of modifications.

YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF THESE TERMS

By using this Site, you signify your acceptance of this policy. If you do not agree to this policy, please do not use our Site. Your continued use of the Site following the posting of changes to this policy will be deemed your acceptance of those changes.

CONTACTING US

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, or your dealings with this site, please contact us at:

Points Group, LLC

https://www.pointsgroup1.10web.me

150 Morristown Road, Suite 220

Bernardsville, NJ 07924

This document was last updated on July 24, 2014