Depending on the forum base and why you're there signatures can still be successful for referral clicks (among other things). You just have to make sure the forum you are on permits them first and foremost. Then make sure whatever you're linking them to is relevant to the forums you're on.
Thank you for the info. I knew the links had to be relevant, I really don't believe in spamming links anyways. I was just curious if they still had value on the SERP's and what not as far as backlinks are concerned. Which backlinks probably aren't even a huge factor for SERP's anymore.
I think they are incredible. I consistently post on forums each day. The first thing you need to do once you join a forum is the generic things, make an introduction thread. Once you do that, I always aim for the highest quality posts so I can build a reputation. Once I think I have a decent reputation, I will put my link in my signature. I usually specify what the blog is about since I post on many forums, so they're not really my targeted niche. If they are interested, they will click and potentially become daily visitors.
Google is only penalizing backlinks that are not genuine, when it can identify paid backlinks that are placed on many websites. However signature links and links in blog comments still have some value, because they are generally placed in forums and blogs that cover the same or similar topics to the linked content. For example someone with a health website might have a signature link in a health and fitness forum, and will comment on posts in health related blogs.
Forum users who add a lot of single sentence posts just to get their signature seen, and people who spam blogs with comments made only to promote their own links, will be less successful, but if all your posts and comments are informative and useful, you will get more traffic from those links.
I don't believe forum links were ever very helpful for backlinking. They haven't had much weight for quite some time. What they are useful for is highly targeted direct traffic. If you follow what ozadin says above, it can be an excellent traffic source. I don't recommend using a sales page as your link, though. I think a squeeze page offering a quality free product works best, and then you've got them on your list.
I have never really used them as backlinks, but as a mean to bring more traffic to my website. When I start a new website I look for forums that are fairly popular and also related to my niche. Then I start to build up my post count and reputation to the level where I'm allowed to have a link in my signature. When I have my link I continue to post useful information to the forum, especially to highly relevant threads. Doing this can bring you highly targeted traffic (which is also free) for years to come
In my opinion, forum signatures are not great for SEO of your site, but it can bring in a lot of TARGETED and potential customers to your site provided you have established yourself (or the person who is using your forum Signature as his/her signature) as a helpful and good forum member. If the forum is very large and has a great following, then that Signature can bring you a lot of targeted traffic.
It is very good, especially if you're on the right forum. I've actually never tried it but I know a few people that have and they told me that it helped them out a lot so if I were you I would try it out.
There are too many mixed opinions on this thread. For what I've seen they can be good for SEO and also be a good way of driving targeted traffic to a website. Lasser targeted traffic will give you the most money.
I think it depends, but, as long as your forum allows it, then it certainly can't hurt. It might not be the most effective form of backlinking but it's certainly not the least effective, and every little bit counts. Go for it!
Forum signature backlinks do indeed still serve as excellent sources of organic and high PR backlinks, but you will need to choose which ones you forge your signatures containing your links on very wisely. It would be foolish to sign up to many forums without thoroughly reading their rules and restrictions regarding signatures, as many who do not tolerate people who sign up just to promote their sites will remove your posts immediately, so all of the effort you put into it may be wasted. Granted, there are many marketing forums that are tolerant of those wishing to promote their sites, products, or services, so they may allow you to enter your URLs into your signature, provided you follow their rules. Some may even ask promoters to purchase memberships to make use of their marketplace facilities and the population of the forum.
It is common courtesy to mask your link with a hyperlink description that reflects what your site is about, which also aids in conversion rates from these forums, too. All in all, if you do your best to make yourself blend in and look like a part of the community, people won't mind your signatures so much. Try not to spend too much time posting on one forum, either, change it up and you will start seeing PR gains rather quickly.
I think blog comments would be a good way to generate leads, but I'm not sure if forum posts would do much. I've been an active member on some forums for years, and links in my signatures are not always touched on a daily basis. Maybe it depends on what type of forum you're posting in, though. You never know!
I believe they still are good backlinks. It's a great way to make a lot of links to your blog/site or specific articles without having to go through hoops to get it advertised and visible. Not to mention that if you are very active then you'd have a lot of backlinks, and a lot of visibility among a select number of audience with the same interests.