I have a website that has 2 specific pages of it that appear to have been penalized by Google (all of its other pages are fine). They are both listed in the Google index (hence, not a ban), but when I attempt to Google search specific text on these pages within double quotation marks, these pages do NOT return in the SERPs. The content for these pages is very unique, so I believe that it's safe to assume that these pages have either manual or automated imposed page-level penalties.
The pages are White-Hat all the way, and they do not point to any "bad neighborhoods" either. They both had been ranked # 1 or # 2 for several keyword phrases, for the last 5-6 years. They have been penalized now for about 4 months.
I have come to the conclusion that several forums that I regularly contribute to, may be the issue. On each of the posts in these forums, I have signature links that link back to the 2 aforementioned pages. I do this on each of 3 forums, and have different link text, for each of the 3 forums, but within a given forum, all posts have the identical link text (as per how the global signature functions on those websites work). These back links make up the majority (probably about 75 %) of the total back links to these 2 pages. These forums are very much related to the content of my website.
I noticed in GWT, that the "total" # of backlinks for each of these 3 forum domains appear in the summary link page. However, if I drill down into each of these 3 forum domains, GWT actually only displays maybe 10 of these links (for some, I have summary link totals of 150-200). For other non-forum domains, with much fewer back-links, GWT manages to list each link, and the individual link total equates to the summary total # for that domain.
A couple of questions come to mind here:
1) Is GWT always accurate with listing the detail links, or for domains in which there are many links, will it typically only list a few (NOTE: for the ones that are listed, some of them are back from 2009, and some are very recent).
2) Will Google look at these types of links negatively on my site/pages, especially since it's external to my site ? How would they know that it wasn't a competitor trying to sink my site ?
3) Will removal of the signature links from these forum posts, followed by a Google Reinclusion request, be a good remedy for this, in your estimation ?
Thanks in advance, to anyone who can provide insight here.