1script - 11:11 pm on Mar 22, 2010 (gmt 0)
Wanted to bring up a question that came up in the course of investigating a case of a really bad multiple-site Google penalty (more about the case here [webmasterworld.com]).
Going rounds in circles, trying to find what went wrong (with all sites at the same time no less), I've noticed one trend. Those sites hit with penalty tend to have links from sponsored WP templates. Unfortunately it's not as clear cut as I want it to be - I'm finding some penalized sites that have no template links and some doing OK (for now) that have a few. But, again, in general most sites that were killed last week have WP template links.
I've been using WordPress template sponsorship quite extensively some time ago reasoning that an incoming links can do no harm (supposedly, there is or was even a page at Google that said so) and in case the template got picked up by a good site, you may even get some benefit.
I've grown weary of the practice and did not sponsor any lately, but of course those I did back in 2008 - early 2009 are still out there, some on horrendous auto-blogs.
So, what's the consensus of this great group: can a template sponsorship link harm a site so bad as to get it penalized?