Are forum signature links considered blackhat now?

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Are forum signature links considered blackhat now?

Google is making just about every type of backlink "blackhat" now. If it isn't built naturally (IE: someone you do not know randomly links to you) and you had a hand in making it, it is blackhat. Forum signature links are definitely not natural as you add the link yourself and usually use some kind of targeted keyword or phrase in your link. Does Google now consider these unethical and blackhat?


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Well, unless Google specifically states it following some update or announcement on the Google Webmaster forums ( or via the official webmasters blog ( it is only pure speculation.

There has been a lot of discussion/debate over whether forum signature links are black hat or unethical but the thing is it's such a grey area and there a lot of people that will say they can provide a lot of benefit to having them. Of course as you've stated, you can choose to use a specific keyword or phrase (anchor text) for that signature. But does that mean that signature links are black hat links?

According to back in May 27, 2014, John Mueller from Google responded directly and clearly on whether backlinks from forum profiles can hurt you. He said "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."

But that's on dropping links in threads and not forum profile signature links. However, they could very well be seen as the same thing both by their algo's and by their manual web-spam team. The thing is Google has to discern what is a link to game the SERPs and what is just an innocent person trying to share a link to their site, or something related to a topic.

Let's not forget that Google likes links from sites that are RELATED to your site. So if you have a blog on fly fishing and you are a member of some fly fishing forums with links in your sig to your fly fishing site/blog it would consider that as a related link.

However, Google has put less emphasis on forum links a while back now anyway. If you have links from forums as signature links only and they review your site and its backlinks, that might look like you was trying to game the SERP's. For this reason, it's good to have a wide link profile with links coming from multiple sources and platforms which would only happen naturally overtime if your site/blog is good anyway.

I hope that's helped put things into perspective for you.

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We need a case study on this, I think. Take a site and add forum signature links to it from relevant forums, then see if it increases in rank or not.

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Google made a huge deal about 'forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature' as being unnatural or link-spam.

For instance:
Thanks, that’s great info!
- Paul
paul’s pizza san diego pizza best pizza san diego


On one hand, Google makes it out like all non-editorial backlinks are bad.

And, yet Matt Cutts admits to leaving a link back to his own site via blog comments.

I leave topically relevant comments on topically relevant sites all the time. So somebody posts an SEO conspiracy theory and I’m like, “No, that’s not right,” I’ll show up and a leave a comment that says, “Here is the pointer that shows this is not correct,” or, “Here’s the official word,” or something like that. And I’ll just leave a comment with my name, and often even point to my blog rather than Google’s webmaster blog, because I’m just representing myself. So lots of people do that all the time and it is completely fine.
The sorts of things that I would start to worry about is it’s better to often leave your name so someone knows who they are dealing with, rather than “cheap study tutorials” or “fake driver’s license”, or whatever the name of your business is, often that will get a chillier reception than if you show up with your name.

We're getting some mixed signals here and I think this could possibly apply to forum signature lines too.

So maybe the take away from all this is that it's ok to have a signature link on blog comments or forum posts, just be sure not to keyword spam.

Another option would be to disable the signature line on posts (some forum software allows this) and only have a few links from each forum you post at.

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That so called black hat is giving me a headache with my SEO studies because I get confused. I have learned to build backlinks and one method is by posting on a big forum. Now here comes the issue that a signature link on a forum may be considered black hat. What if I am an old time member of the forum that I have a lot of posts and comments so my signature will be all over the boards. Is that considered black hat?

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