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www.widgetbuildingadvice.tld or Widget Building Advice or if the actual keyword phrase you are targeting is widget building can you say More on widget building (with widget building being the anchor text)? All of these go to www.widgetbuildingadvice.tld
I have also seen www.widgetbuildingadvice.tld/Widget Building Advice (both are links to www.widgetbuildingadvice.tld)?
From all these possibilites, what is best in your experience? Of course, variety is good but what is the most effective?
I can't post on many forums because there aren't many available in some of my subjects so I would like to do what is best.
Forums that are good are either nofollowed or don't allow signature links.
I'd consider forums more for a bit of branding, or to announce new content on your site (latest blog, new tool etc) rather than as a link development tool, but perhaps it's different in your niche.
Personally I use my website url or a call to action bit of text - but NOT a key search term. I think it's likely that forum sigs are a quality signal. After all, you control the link text and the number of links - hardly something Google should trust is it? So I don't put important search terms in them for fear that this would damage my profile for those key words. I use related words that I don't care whether I rank for or not. If I use my business name, then I can't see Google penalising me for spamming my name (my url is not a keyword or search phrase).
Whatever you do, I wouldn't put two links to the same place next to each other in a signature, even with different text.
can you say More on widget building (with widget building being the anchor text)? All of these go to www.widgetbuildingadvice.tld
You're probably doing it correctly, however I want to stress that if done incorrectly it can be seen as spam. It's important to step back a moment to rethink what is to be accomplished. Many companies are missing out on a great opportunity to build mindshare and outrun their competition. A better way is to focus on building a relationship, professional goodwill, and traffic, not dropping a link. The links will follow from there.
Assuming you are following best practices and not doing a drive-by link drop, then the best way is drop the link in an anchor or simply the URL. The more value you add to a forum the longer your leash will grow.
Forums that are good are either nofollowed or don't allow signature links...
Signature links can still be allowed but they have to be tightly monitored for links to squidoo, ning, and other social sites that are abused by WAHM Get Rich for Free types, as well as one post wonders congratulating the previous posters for such a great post, etc.
Allowing signature links is a good way to attract professionals who have actual experience and knowledge. Those are the kinds of forum members that enhance the value of your forum. They give advice, you allow them to build good will.
The OP is probably doing it correctly. However, it adds zero value if improperly executed and many forum moderators will see it as spam and remove it, which is a waste of time for everybody involved. :(
For more information on this topic please see this post from last year on how to build link relationships with online communities [webmasterworld.com].
Also, do the pages that the links are on have to be in the Google index for there to be an impact in the rankings?
I think you're over-thinking this a bit. MB's post said all you really need to know. If the forum is one where people are asking or answering questions just to get their post count up and drop links then I doubt the links will count for much at all. If it is a respected forum then it is likely that the pages will be indexed and that the links will help to some extent.
But the main reason to post in a forum, if you are using it for self-promotion, would be to establish yourself as someone who has something useful and interesting to say i.e. for traffic and secondary links to your most recent blog post or the interesting article you referred someone to, or for people approaching you privately for help.
Will Google see that one as one of those several signature spams or will this count better since it is being used as part of the discussion? Any idea?