Footer Links Don’t Work? They Do If You Have Enough Of Them.

by mjtaylor on December 19, 2011

Webspam Debate Highlights Effectiveness of Footer Links

A few days ago, Joost de Valk of Yoast published a post revealing a questionable tactic of Godaddy. Yoast had grown weary of losing search terms to the host and took a fine tooth comb to its link profile. What Yoast found: Godaddy was winning those terms by sneaking text links into the footer of their Website Tonight clients. The sneaky part was not revealing that the embedded link would have a text element. Previews only show the graphic.
Footer Links Work? Yoast’s link analysis indicates they do.

Google has been telling us for quite a while now that footer links etc. are not that important. Well guess what, that’s not true if you have enough of them. Using SearchMetrics I ran a report for the top keywords they rank in the top 3 for. Each and every keyword in there that is not their brand name, from website hosting to webhosting to website builder, to domain name registration and more: all of those landing pages have exact match anchor text links pointing to them. All coming from these types of domains, thousands if not tens of thousands of clients who are paying for a service, are unknowingly also helping GoDaddy’s business by helping it rank.

I always thought that was a bit of Google propaganda. I’ve used footer links for years and found them very effective – they are not just an opportunity to add anchor text; they are an important navigation tool for users. If I have captured a visitor’s imagination so fully that they read to the end of the page, I sure want to present a path to other parts of my site.
Some SEOs feel it’s wrong to place links in the footer of client sites. I started developing sites in 1998 when it was common practice. I don’t always place my link on client footers, but I reserve the right to do so when I enter a new contract.

Yoast’s post is an example of “outing” webspam; a topic under debate between SEOBook’s Aaron Wall and SEOMoz Rand Fishkin posted as a discussion on Saturday.

Would you keep quiet if you saw webspam? Would you report webspam on a competitor’s site?

{ 5 comments }

Sweet Tooth #3 December 20, 2011 at 1:55 am

Hi MJ! Yeah… I use the Yoast Seo plugin, so I get their blog feed into my admin panel. Interesting story. I did a quick Google search about it and recognized your name from WPW.

This sounds a bit shady to me. I know that a lot of companies put their links into site footers. But it will usually look something like “Designed by ABC Company,” not “Designed by ‘Cheap Website Design Seattle.’”

Go Daddy’s keyword stuffing their customers sites lol…

Maybe it’s not that funny though, I do use them for my registrar. But I’ve never been even tempted to try “Website Tonight.”

I always get these Go Daddy promotional emails titled “You’ll Never Guess What Bob Did This Time.”

And they’re right, you can never really guess.

Btw, nice blog :)

mjtaylor December 21, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Sweetie! ;) I agree with you and Yoast: not telling customers that a text link of the company’s choosing will be inserted is not, well, cricket. Shady is a good word for it. Personally, I am not a godaddy fan; primarily because I find their site so NOT intuitive for a webmaster.

Sweet Tooth #3 December 23, 2011 at 7:24 am

My pleasure! Nice blog you have here!

I’ve bookmarked it!

mjtaylor December 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I’d better get cracking! I am watching all the great 2011 wrap up and 2012 predictions and thinking what sort of list shall I make?

Sweet Tooth #3 December 24, 2011 at 3:17 am

Look forward to reading it MJ. ;–)

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