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Site-wide Footer Links Are Bad for SEO, Do This Instead

By Tim Brown
Updated March 15, 2020
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Footer Links for SEO
Tim Brown
Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

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If you’re a web designer or developer – it’s always been a common practice to put the name of your company in the footer, and link back to your site.

  • First of all – for years this was great for SEO.
  • There’s even some evidence it still works.
  • It’s not that crazy to get some credit for your work, especially if the client is cool with it.

But in my experience, the results have waned and even become negative to doing this and relying on it for rankings, but don’t fret – there’s a better way.

What works the best? 

Site-wide Footer Links? keyword rich? Branded?

Footer Links for SEO

The Experiments

  • Added a Site-wide Footer Links
  • Added a homepage only footer link
  • Added a branded anchor text – pushing to a niche landing page

I’ve tried them all folks! We do web design for clients, and we’ve attempted a lot of different things (often explicitly asking to do this, and clients generally oblige.)

Footer links still work, just don’t make them site wide

We’ve been able to identify that having a lot of links from one website, doesn’t necessarily mean the power of those links stays as high on all the subsequent pages. So rather – the real principle is to identify a few pages that you’d like a link from and make them be only on those pages.

In the case, of a client website design – it feels a little inappropriate to be like, “I want a link from your giant guide page, your directory page, and your homepage,” and so from my point of view – one singular link on the homepage seems like the most appropriate (and practical) way to do this.

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So my suggestion is to create one – singular footer link attributing your work on the homepage footer.

How can you make a link only show up on the homepage?

Well, I thought you’d never ask – here’s a code snippet for WordPress (mind you this needs to go in a php template, not in the text editor, but you know that of course if you built the site, lol.

<?php if ( is_front_page() ) { ?>
<span class="credits">
Web Design by <a href="#your-domain">Your Company Name</a>
<?php } ?>

Use niche landing pages and link back from relevant sites

The problem with this – in my opinion, is that all of the links now go to your homepage and how many things can that rank for?

Like 7.

So rather than constantly steroid out your homepage, I find it makes a lot of sense to send links to niche landing pages within your site that relate to that particular client.

For instance – if you have a medical website design and development project – maybe you put this in the footer:

“Website Design by Hook Agency”

And link it off to our medical web design niche landing page.

Linking only on the homepage to a niche landing page has the added benefit of driving relevant clicks.

If someone really liked the website design, for instance, than they could find the relevant information for their niche on the landing page you’re linking to.

  • You get credit for your hard work, and craftsmanship.
  • If you ask, your client can feel good about the link placed.
  • It looks professional on the site because it correctly drives attribution without being all over the website.

I really feel like site wide links can look really spammy and Google is getting better at detecting that

The whole idea of linking in the footer all over the site seems to be driving weaker and weaker results and I believe companies should stop doing that.

I do think these two conclusions are somewhat subjective, but I personally believe they are correct:

  • You should be linking with the brand name rather than a keyword rich anchor. My reason: Branded links both look really natural, and I’ve seen a lot of great results from using them to interior pages.
  • You should be linking to interior pages rather than linking to a homepage. My reason: to me these solves the relevancy problem, because you want your links to be relevant topically and by linking to niche landing pages the relevancy goes up significantly.

How about you!?

I would love to hear others misadventures and successes with footer links. This is obviously not directed at our main clientele because our clients are not generally website designers and developers – but I would love to hear your experience and/or what you agree with or disagree with in the comments. And – as always, if this has been useful with you, I’d love if you’d link to us! 🙂 


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Tim Brown
Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

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