Forum owners, do you have a signature policy in place. I’m referring to signature rules. Some forums that I know they don’t have any rules for the signature nor a limit about how many links are allowed. Ugly color combinations, huge text and special characters in the signature can be a real eye sore and unprofessional. If you are trying to run your forum in a professional way and grow your forum big to make it very profitable for you, you need to set some signature guidelines down in place and of course enforce them.
Some large forums have made the signatures no follow because they wanted to help cut down on spammers trying to post low quality posts to build up backlinks for their signatures. It has been debated more than one time about forum posting for signature links is still a good SEO tactic. I’m not going to get into this conversation in this blog post at this time. Instead, post your thoughts on the forum thread I just linked you to about forum posting. Let’s get back to signature rules to create and enforce on your forum.
Suggestions for some guidelines to use: (These are brief suggestions that need some fine tuning)
- 3 live links max. (Don’t let signature area become a link farm)
- Font color (Bright colors can annoy some people who don’t have good eye site or color blind, the colors depend on your background colors, use your judgement for this)
- affiliate links, masked links, shortened URL’s (Don’t allow any of these, people will post low quality posts to get their affiliate links shown and not actually contribute to your community in a positive way. Plus this will tend to keep most spammers from joining)
- Min. post count to have use of signature feature. (To help prevent spammers from joining, have a min. post count enabled to get the signature feature. If people post fluff post to get to that number, infract them, maybe ban them (judgement call) or remove their posts and reset post count to zero) Remember, you want quality posters and not posters who there for a signature backlink
- adult, gambling, warez links - Make it a rule to not have these links in the signature as it could cause you a problem with Google Adsense and Google rankings
- Buying and selling signature links - Make it a rule to not do this and ban both parties if you find out this happened. (I catch people doing this on other webmaster forums I lurk at, yup I ban them from our forum for life). People will post crappy posts to raise post count to sell their signature for money. Then we ban that member for selling their signature link and the buyer just got ripped off.
I suggested some guidelines to think about using on your forum if you do create a signature policy. Think long and hard because when your forum takes off and get’s huge, people will want to build up their post count to get more signature backlinks if they actually help in SEO anymore. You will attract spammers on your forum if they know that they can add as many links as they want after registering, post illegal links in it, or sell their sig links while they make low quality posts because of bad moderation who doesn’t pickup on this tactic.
As a forum admin, you need to be strict when creating rules for your forum and rules for certain features that you enabled. People will always find the forums weakness and go to town on it till the admin or moderators figure out the problem’s that’s causing more spammers and more low quality posts. You can add some plugins to enable a min. post count to use the signature feature. What ever forum software that you are using, ask in their support board for a plugin or the code to make that happen. Add in your forums official FAQ and Sticky threads your signature guidelines and tell the members at this certain date, we will enforce the new policy so you have x amount of days to edit your signature and comply.
You might be surprised how much better your forum has gotten if you enforce some signature guidelines for a few months. Could cut down on some spam but not all of it. Have a great week.
To Your Success