Many people ask me week after whether or not backlinking strategies are important for building the SEO profile of a site, so I would like to look at various components of this in the coming months. One of the most pressing questions I get asked is whether or not footer backlinks (i.e. links placed in the bottom of an external page directing traffic to your site) impact positively or negatively on your SEO. If you don’t know what I am talking about – take my own website for example – if you were to scroll to the bottom the URL at the bottom directing to my home page is in the footer – however in this case it is referred to as an internal backlink – as it points to a page within my own site.

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My answer is overwhelmingly negative – ever since several Google updates most notably Penguin – the crawler has penalised sites that use this tactic to make it appear like it has more backlinks, especially when they all come from one site.

To put this to the test – I have actually used footer backlinks pointing to my own site and have documented the steps in a Youtube tutorial you can view by clicking here or viewing the video at the bottom of the article. Falling from number one on Google for the keyword term – Increase My Online Business – all the way to completely off-page – I believe this is ample evidence that you should avoid doing this old black hat SEO strategy. I also offer a solution which you can also use so that you can enjoy the benefits of footer links without the negative penalties which Google now applies.

Who uses footer backlinks?

Footer backlinks are used primarily by people in the IT services industry who want to take credit for work they may have been involved on online – web designers, programmers, content marketers e.t.c – who want to leave a digital footprint so that if other potential clients like the work they have produced then they can be contacted somehow and potentially make a sale. Also footer backlinks are common when perhaps a parent company owns several businesses as part of its operations or perhaps has bought out other rival firms and much like a copyright or ownership notice – have their IT team place this information at the bottom of the page i.e. Company X is property of companyD.com.

To give you an example here is a shot of a footer backlink I have placed on a client site I designed a few weeks ago.

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What will happen to your site if you use footer backlinks?

Placing a footer backlink isn’t like creating one link – because the footer is visible on usually every page on the site – now you will have a link placed everywhere! Google will then see this as an attempt to build credibility from irrelevant content and will penalise you – by either giving you what we call a Manual Warning – which you can view in your Google Webmaster Tools – or without even telling you as happened in my case – with this website disappearing completely from Google.

The Solution – Retain the Benefits of Footer Backlinks

Removing these links may prove costly – as if the websites you have been involved with have thousands of hits per day – you potentially are missing out on tens if not hundreds of potential customers who may want to use your services as well. What you can do is actually leave these links in place but instead update the code to include a rel=’nofollow’ tag – a piece of code which advises the Google Crawler to ignore these as black hat attempts and instead enables them to be viewed in a neutral light.

For most of you – code is something frightening but for those who want to implement the changes themselves your links currently may look like this

<a href=”http://www.increasemyonlinebusiness.com“>iMOB – Increase My Online Business.com </a>

But instead you want them to look like this

<a href=”http://www.increasemyonlinebusiness.comrel=”nofollow“>iMOB – Increase My Online Business.com</a>

Video Tutorial