Barry Schwartz of SERoundTable.com, a blog all about Search Engines, posted this morning that WordPress theme sponsors may be under attack from Google. Those links you see, either “Theme sponsored by…” or “Designed by…” may be getting a downgraded authority because of those links.
I know that for a fact, some sites like StudioPress or ElegantThemes or even WooThemes, have very strong rankings because of those links. But not all of their link strength comes from those footer links. Any major premium WordPress theme brand generally gains new links fairly naturally.
Given this assault by Google on these footer links in WordPress themes, it may both lower the PageRank for theme sites and likely lower their authority in the search results — which is usually connected to the PageRank of a page.
I’m actually really glad that Google is taking this position and being more aggressive with handling these kinds of links. I can’t say for certain how many of those footer links are legit or spammy, but I often do find spammy links in those footers. Especially when they’re for hotels or viagra or financial websites. Those links have absolutely no relevancy for the main site and should certainly be discounted.
It’s hard to draw a line at what gets discounted and what doesn’t, as a link to say, StudioPress, may not be very relevant to the main site. If the site is about oranges and other fruit, a link to a WordPress theme company isn’t very relevant.
Google can certainly make their index better by fine-tuning the algorithm changes they made, but they really do need to do a great job at it. There is plenty of link spam out there, but there is also a lot of great and authority-worthy links.
If you were hit with a Google penalty or you have some thoughts on the matter, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.