So what is the difference between a link from a guestbook and a link from a forum? The answer is that guestbook links are non-moderated and without editorial discretion and links from a forum are moderated and do have editorial discretion. People are examining over at SEOchat the usefulness of several linking methods mentioned in the Google Patent document. The nature of editorial discretion comes up and determining precisely what they mean by this. The patent mentions 3 examples of link spam techniques - "exchanging links", "purchasing links" or "gaining links from documents without editorial discretion on making links". It also goes on to mention that guestbooks, referral logs, and several other sources are examples of linking spam.
One of the members on SEOchat who started the particular thread is guessing that links from signatures on the forums are not helping anyone get better rankings in the search engines. This has been talked about before. Abakus forums did something on it last year. The result from those studies indicated that forums link do not help nor hurt in any way. However, some at SEOchat think they might actually cause a slight penalization to occur as MANY forum links can be construed as one big site wide link. I personally have never understood the signature link method as a form of SEO. I have even seen recommendations as to members telling other members that SEO begins on a site with 1. Setting a website up and 2. Getting forum sig links to get it including into Google. It has seemed to work in the past for some, but sig links are not worth the time in my opinion nor really that effective for organic SEO purposes.
DazzinDonna a mod at SEOchat says for the large number of posts she has the use of signature links has not affected her sites. Another member says that he has seen decreased rankings due to many links from the forums, but can't really say whether that is forum links or just something else he did. Some think that forum links are devalued and not worth much anymore. The thread meanders off topic a bit and returns with a few comments. Might be a good time for someone to jump in. If sig links could hurt your sites, then its probably bad news for sites like Sig Traders.
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