Do Footer Links Effect Seo?
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Recently I was talking to a webmaster and was asked the question “Do you feel that footer links are now useless in SEO”. This question I am sure has been asked many times over by SEO and Webmasters alike. Will I benefit from placing link in a clients footer? Is it worth it?
There has been debate over this issue for quite a while. And while we understand that actions have been taken by Google to prevent manipulation of footer links for SEO purposes, has the value been completely drained?
For instance on MWolk.com the following was posted:
“It seems google completely discard below the fold link (the area which you see only while pulling the scroll bar down). The reason being, most of the footer links are either sold links or having the link of the theme and site designers and they are not quality, relevant and organic links, in short, Footer links have no value for google and google do not pass any link juice (or very very little) to make them worth it”
So in this article we will discuss very briefly a few reasons why I believe that footer links are not yet obsolete as some have insinuated. But rather can still be very powerful.
In response to the article quoted in the intro, Andy from webpr.es explains the fallacies of the author’s arguments and the lack of proof and research to back up those claims. Now almost one year later we re-approach the same issue asking the same questions and seeking some real answers.
I remember a few years back watching a web host conquer the top keywords in the Web Hosting industry including “Web Hosting”. The power of these rankings were based on thousands of links placed in the footer of WordPress templates. As thousands of users downloaded these templates the back link strength became so powerful it forced this newer web host from nowhere to page 1 within a matter of 3 months.
After this site and many like sites lost their rankings it was assumed that footer links were greatly devalued or as MWolk claims, completely valueless. This is not true and can be shown by a current example.
Joost De Valk on his seo blog posted this article which IMO is very informative. BTW before I go on, if you don’t currently have Yoast.com on your RSS reader, subscriber list or whatever you use to keep up with news, do it now. He is one of the few bloggers that consistently has provided good advice for years.
Anyways in his article he explains how GoDaddy has been placing links in PAYING customers footer links to GoDaddy landing pages. It is clear they are doing this for SEO purposes for several reasons. They are NOT nofollowed, they are not just pointing to the home page but are pointing, with targeted anchor text, to landing pages for Web Hosting, Web Design and Domain Names. GoDaddy obviously knows exactly what they are doing, they are spreading link love over various keywords, which is one of the things that the un-named Web Host mentioned earlier failed to properly do. As Joost pinpoints the issue here is not the links themselves but the way they are embedded on clients sites without transparency and Google’s apparent disinterest in dealing with the issue.
What is wrong with footer links, from an SEO perspective?
If you have a choice on where your link is placed you should never choose to have it placed in a footer. While they carry value I do believe that they are not considered exactly the same as content links prominently placed on a page. This being said, it is clear they still carry a good deal of link juice. And IMO they should carry some link value and here is why. A Web Designer creates some really nice WordPress themes and offers them free with a link back to his website in the footer. He is offering a free service in the hopes that people will find out about him through the link. While I do not believe this link should, from a purely Search Engine perspective, carry as much weight as a content link it should carry some. The fact that the user is USING a template by the Web Designer is in itself a VOTE for that Designer.
I think it is very clear that footer links DO still pass link juice and that it IS still a method of link building AND SEO. However like all methods of this nature, I would not recommend it as your primary SEO game plan. And as said earlier when link building, you should be seeking high value content page links.
Ohh and btw, my recommendation if you are a GoDaddy customer is to drop them. Their apathy towards internet freedom, privacy and this issue shows they don’t deserve your business.
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