do related site wide footer links hold the key to outsmarting google?

Lee Halliday | 21/07/16

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A site-wide footer link can help with site ranking, although in comparison to a single link on the home page of the same site, it may be of less value.

Citation, citation

However, a citation in an article with a link may strengthen the page ranking if the web page answers the right questions, especially if the site sits in No1 position on page 1 and the searcher is most likely to click on this result first.

Anchor text changes

When users cross-link to existing and new websites, from footers and body copy and the links are constantly tweaked to change them, it may seem like a way of working the system but a risk when anchor text changes away from the brand’s name.

Danger zone

This practice could trigger a danger signal, when a site is getting lots of site wide links in a short period of time. Yet Google seems to let it pass, even to reward the site.

Up the ladder…

For example, when linking to a newly launched site, BestProducts, from its impressive portfolio of authority websites, which includes Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire and Bazaar, the new site was given a hefty leg up the search results.

It was estimated that BestProducts attracted at least 600,000 organic referrals from Google in April 2016.

Tactics, what tactics…?

In industries where a few brands account for several hundred sub-brands, there are probably going to be similar tactics going on, and with intent.

So is this the definitive tactic for getting ahead of Google? If so, do Google really see what is going on here or turn a blind eye? Why wouldn’t one of the web spam team play I-spy and spot the relationship between the sites?

Google eye

In other words, does Google understand these sites are linked to one another with relationships to the same parent company? Does that simply sweep aside the dubious link tactics in such cases?

Best practice

According to Matt Cutts American software engineer and former head of the web spam team at Google: if you have 50 different sites, don’t link to all 50 sites in the footer of your website; to avoid looking like spam, just link to three or four in the footer.

However, we don’t get a crystal clear answer about links to other sites, as opposed to links with descriptive and ever-changing anchor text, which is quite different.

Strategy choice

When it comes to internal link-building, it’s a safer bet to work out a clear strategy in advance. Create the right paths for visitors, to encourage them to visit other pages or sites; this should constitute targeted business goals.

Looking ahead, we are likely to see lots more smaller sites launched by the big publishing groups, getting on top with this cross-site linking strategy.

It would seem that the power of links still fuels the engine, so to speak.


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