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My entire site got dropped mid-May. PR0 on the toolbar. It had been in the listings since February. The fresh bot would come to my site almost daily, I haven't seen it since May 11th.
I've gone through the dropped site checklist, and I'm looking at incoming links as the cause now; this is my biggest source of incoming links. I've read here that google will penalize sites for this kind of thing, but I get the idea it takes 1000s of links, less then 100 shouldn't be a problem, and I don't have any links back to this site so it isn't a network.
I doubt very much this is an issue - and so long as it isn't completely unrelated, it should be fine.
If there were a penalty for this, the Yahoo! would be banned, because they have lots of sub-domains (which are considered different sites), yet each of those would link to www.yahoo.com
We had a site that achieved pr6 from hundreds of links from one other site. Despite this, the site never ranked well. This suggests to me that the toolbar pr is only part of the pr equation. You need a variety of links in from different ip's to benefit from a high pr showing on the toolbar.
I keep thinking about something ogletree wrote in another thread, where he (from memory) says good and many links in will give the site tremendous stability against algo changes. I think this is the key. No one linking to you can effect your rankings in a negative way, you just need more people to link to you from different sites, whatever their pr is.
Having said the above, I would be uncomfortable about too many links in with the same anchor text if it is a keyword phrase you are targeting. That could be 'unnatural' and have an effect.
The reason being you are not in control of who links to you. Also, an advert with your link in it would have the same effect (in terms of incoming links) and that is a legitimate method of advertising, nothing wrong with that at all.
Perhaps google would prevent PageRank being passed from any such links if it was made aware, or perhaps if Google suspects that site linking to you had been paid for these links soley for the purpose of increasing PageRank.
Credits in the footer of the page are quite common and legitimate. There are two at the bottom of every WW page, one for webhost and one for Best BBS. But the accepted practice is to use anchor text that is the name of what you are linking to, not to push your keywords.
It sounds reasonable that I wouldn't get kicked for this, because other sites in the same situation don't have the ability to remove the links like mike said. I'll keep on searching. Thanks folks!