Forum links are genuine citations
Forum members liberally create link citations to sites 24/7 for many good reasons. Forum links are citations I tend to trust
It's the ultimate quality citation when a forum member posts a link to a commercial site as a source for a particular product or service that they use and vouch for. I trust the word of an established forum member who has used and recommends a product over a blogged review by a stranger. It's one of the few citation contexts that are trustworthy. I would be unhappy if my favorite forums started discouraging links to favorite products. Not bullshit
It's nothing for Google to analyze sites within a niche and establish a baseline for normal inbound link patterns from forums. The Google engineers were talking about this way back at Pubcon New Orleans 2005, nearly ten years ago. It was a bombshell nine years ago. Why is anyone surprised at this now?
If there is a pattern of forum links to businesses within a specific niche then that becomes the baseline for normal. Any patterns outside of that baseline are spam. I don't think it's bulls
hit. Google can do it. I know of major brands who have been hit for penalties because their well known "white hat" SEO agency outsourced the link building to someone else who then outsourced it to spammers.
Clearly there are certain niches that are abnormal. I'm not talking about those. Will Google start identifying and banning forum links?
This is where the bulls
hit factor comes in. John Mueller said that forum spam can
be taken into account. He didn't say it will
be. So that can be a warning of something that can but won't necessarily happen. It could be scare tactics.
But it could also be that Google is warning businesses before Google starts taking action at some point in the future. Personally I believe they'll do it. You know why? Because Google has already been doing it here and there.
[edited by: martinibuster at 10:06 pm (utc) on May 27, 2014]