martinibuster - 2:25 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)
...there are millions of really good sites out there with things like template credit links in the footer.
I agree with you 100%. Ideally, a really good site should rank well regardless of template credit links. If quality WordPress template theme sites and forum software sites begin to sink in the SERPs then yes, Google might have broken something.
Here's the thing about quality sites, they have more links than just what's in the credits. A quality site is going to generate natural citations from other sites.
Maybe some won't agree with me, but I do not feel a site is "quality" if the majority of it's links are credit links. A credit link is not a citation, a vote, in the way that the PageRank system originally envisioned it. This concept about credit links being shady has been kicking around at Google since at least 2003 when Marissa Mayer, at a presenation at SES San Jose, answered one of my questions about credit links, remarking that credit links should have their PageRank depreciated. That was a bombshell in 2003. It shouldn't be in 2012.