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Looking at the way Google has traditionally handled links and various link schemes, negative action is usually taken if there is a pattern of a particular kind of link scheme and especially so if there is an abundance or predominance of a particular kind of link scheme making up the backlink profile.
I think Google's pet hate is forum signature links. Not only does it create spam but also helps nobody as the signature links have nothing to do with the subject
even persons in webmasterword checks the profile to see the site, I often see persons entering from webmasterworld.
[edited by: n00b1 at 7:13 am (utc) on May 13, 2013]
If I participate in an on-topic forum about my niche then I include a written URL for my website in the signature (if allowed). It isn't a link so Google doesn't care for it but it allows users to know your website if they are interested.
Don’t use forum signatures for “SEO” purpose, use them instead for traffic. Which will come to your site from those forums, if you are posting genuine and insightful posts, otherwise it is just spam and no likes it.
Google always said befor, no backlink can hurt you
I hope Google able to differentiate between actual reply content vs signature content.
Been reading google guidelines for unnatural links,
and it says this about signing comments in forums with a link:
"Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature, for example:
Thanks, that’s great info!
paul’s pizza san diego pizza best pizza san diego"
I have in 2 forum my sites url in the signature but without anchorwords, and after many years posting they are quite some.
I just took away the signature, but I wonder if that is necesarry as it is not optimized as google says, its only the url to the index page.
Fix the problem you change the outcome.
Re-tool the signature code so that the link on the member's profile page is the only external link and their massive internal forum contributions that built value for you over time (compelling content) is rewarded by providing their profile solid link juice.
Now instead of having thousands of worthless external links the user has a powerful profile link based on their own worth to your website and that changes Google's impression of your domain.
[edited by: helenp at 2:00 pm (utc) on May 13, 2013]