Forum signature links - unethical SEO?

The search engines want to provide the users with the most relevant search results. As of what I have learned internal and external linking to my website is important factors to improve SERP and PR.

Google has informed that every attempt to manipulate SERP or PR is not legal and from my point of view this puts link building through signature fields into a greyzone or perhaps also in a direct non-ethical / blackhat SEO process.

I am sure many of you disagree with me and I would like to start a discussion about this.

Is link building through forum signaturs ethical, in a greyzone or unethical?

IMO Forums signature links are not unethical seo. Yes, some are buy and sell signature links.

many?? i think a better word would be “some”

and it’s sure not hard to see which users they are

the rest of us, and i’m pretty sure it’s a majority, are ~not~ here “promoting a link or website”

rather, we are here to participate in discussions about web development

I believe many users participate in this forum or any forums that allow signatures for a reason, promoting a link or website. Correct me if I am wrong.

please define “active” and “succeed”

otherwise this remark has no credibility

Signature links help to make this forum active and succeed.


At SitePoint only those who have been members for at least three months can have sig links and there are also restrictions on the sorts of links you can have (no affiliate links and just plain text).

The sig links need to be related to the forum topic to get any clickthroughs at all as it’s very unlikely that anyone will be interested to a link to a page on say fish from a web site forum. Also the content of the posts themselves needs to be useful and meaningful since if the post is junk then the sig links are even more likely to be so.

To get even as small a number as 1000 visitors a week through sig links you’d need hundreds of thousands of relevant posts.

There are a number of factors involved here with forum sig links.

  1. What is the policy of the actual forum site you want to put your sig link up at? Generally most sites are okay with the notion but I guess everyone has run up against sites were anything approaching a sig link is considering to be tantamount to the most evil deed imaginable. I would tend not to bother with those sites as it generally indicates a pretty anal control approach to Administration. So in the wash up check the rules.

  2. For sig links to work you need to be a regular poster on the forum your sig is at, the more posts the more chance someone will click on your sig link.

  3. What sort of traffic are you planning to drive via your sig link, there are better avenues.

I tend to click through the odd sig link if it looks interesting but avoid the big flashy graphic ones and stick to the simple links. Personal preference there of course.

Yet another viewpoint is that of the person using the web to search for the information. For them any link that helps them to find what they are looking for is ethical and any link that hinders is spam.

If you start from that point then any link building that you do to help increase the chances that searchers will find your information if it is relevant to their search would then be ethical while and links you create to push your information in front of people not looking for it is not.

ehh :rolleyes: well what are you doing here. This thread is about SEO and forum links. So please explain to me the enormous value of your post in a thread where SEO people discuss "Forum signature links - unethical SEO? "

omg an army of seo experts doing google’s bidding




I would say no, it is not correct. Building links to sites you like when your are blogging is very ok and very correct. Google is depending on SEO just like SEO is depending on Google. Google is trying to make SEO such a hard thing that it forces us to provide better and better quality of information. Here is the success of Google and Google can only do this today together with SEO people

Off Topic:

r937’s replies often appear to have little value when looked at quickly. They often require one to think before they can see what is being said.

My personal view is that taken from the perspective of Google, as JJMcClure has said, any link building is unethical. That is, links should and will come naturally if the content justifies them in the eyes of those providing the backlink.

But link building taken from the perspective of a site owner can be very different from Google’s. If the intent is to increase awareness so that others can find it in the first place, isn’t that OK?

I think a big part of the “ethical” question depends on where the site falls between extremes. If it’s an auto-splog of mish-mashed stolen content and the only intent for link building is to increase revenue with no concern of providing anything useful to visitors most would say “unethical”. But if it’s an “honorable” site just starting out, then many would say “ethical”. And all the sites that fall between the extremes that want to do better than their competitors, well, that’s open to debate and will be different for everyone.


If what you say is unethical, than any link building is blackhat technique.

It is true and that was what I had mentioned! And my point is that now forums have the ability to filter the ethical and unethical!

That’s great! I thought the same and that is why I had mentioned forum administrators(the real people)! Anyways thanks for your clarification!

It isn’t provided that you are genuinely contributing value to the forum and only provide the links in order to better answer the questions people on the forum are asking.

There is a name for people who only visit forums in order to post links back to their own site without contributing to the forum community - they are called SPAMMERS.

I personally think building links from forums isn’t unethical! Now many forums have made the rules more strict! Forum administrators know whether a member of their forum are ethical or not. If they found someone doing crap things they follow their rules. Though most users who join forums have the intention to build links, their contribution to the forum plays the key role to their business!

That no longer applies. Once it was determined that there was no difference to the amount of spam posts when the signatures were only visible to logged in users they were made visible to everyone again (they all have rel=“nofollow” on them anyway so the search engines ignore them either way).

The change to make them visible again meant that the number of people going from SitePoint to one of the sites I link to there went from about 50 per week to about 200 per week so the visibility of the links to guests does make a difference, however since the number of people following sig links to related sites is that low when I have nearly 12,000 copies of that link on SitePoint demonstrates that sig links are not going to bring in a significant number of extra visitors regardless of how they are configured. Just about anything else you do would bring in more visitors than sig links would.