Many moons ago, forum profiles and signatures were great places to get links for your website. But, more recently, they’ve been reclassified as spam and/or worthless links.
While I wouldn’t advise investing a ton of time in a forum just for the sake of getting links, I wonder if there isn’t some value to be had from these links.
I’ve been a member on the DPS forums for years. I’ve learned a lot about photography there, and when I launched my old digital photography blog I put a link to it in my signature. This resulted in a dofollow link at the end of every post I made.
Now here’s the problem, and why these links are often not worth much. Forums have tons of internal pages, and their internal linking is pretty crappy. Unless you get a lot of replies to a topic, it can quickly drop out of sight and be lost. Add to that the fact that there are a lot of links on each page (everyone’s profile, everyone’s signature, etc), and you have a relatively devalued link.
But, you can have forum posts that rank pretty highly for some keywords. So, obviously they’re indexed by search engines and can (if they’re fleshed out discussions and/or have links to them) rank. So, it follows that visible forum posts can have some (albeit minor) SEO value to them from a linking perspective.
This makes me wonder if it might be worthwhile to throw a few backlinks at a forum post to help make sure that it’s indexed and to make sure Google finds those signature backlinks.
This week, I made two posts on the DPS Share Your Shots forum. Not bound to start a lot of discussion, but it’s a great way to make a post and get your name out there because the point is simply to… share your photos.
I also cross-posted the pictures to a Tumblog that I made to syndicate posts from Rockin’ Photogs. I used the forum post link as the “source” in the Tumblr post. This kills two birds with one stone – it helps bulk up the Tumblog so it’s not just a series of links back to my blog, and it sends a link back to the forum.
So anyway, it’s just an experiment. More than anything, I just want to use it to build some links for domain authority and link diversity (I’m using naked URLs / brand links). None of the links on the forum have optimized keywords or point directly to specific posts.