Glossary | 3 mins
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Footer links, sometimes called sitewide links, are links that appear on every page of a website in the footer.
Footer links are an important topic within SEO for two main reasons. Firstly, they give site users an easy way to access various pieces of content from anywhere on your site. This helps contribute to a positive user experience, and drives up the user engagement signals that Google increasingly uses to rank websites on its SERPs.
Secondly, footer links provide an efficient way for crawlers to reach important content on your site that may exist outside the natural path of a web user.
In the past, when Google’s algorithm was much simpler than it is today, the footer was often used for spammy, black hat footer links SEO tactics. Because the footer isn’t a major part of a typical website’s layout, many black hat SEOs would use it for keyword stuffing without affecting site experience too greatly.
Footer links were also used for spammy link building tactics, where an SEO would partner with the webmaster of another site, who would fill the footer up with links pointing to the SEO’s site using keyword rich anchor text.
Though at one time, these tactics would have had a positive effect on the target site’s rankings, Google’s algorithm is now much more sophisticated, and will be quick to penalise any site found to be employing these methods.
Modern SEOs must be careful when organising links and other content in their site footers to make sure they’re an asset, rather than a hindrance.
After rigorous testing, most of the SEO community is in agreement that external footer links are devalued by Google, almost to the point where they pass no value whatsoever to the site they’re linking to. When building footer links to, for example, a web design agency, it’s much safer to use anchor text like “BrandName Web Design” rather than “Cheap, high quality web design in Brighton.”
Furthermore, adding too many links, whether internal or external, to a site’s footer, can risk pushing the page over its healthy page link total, a benchmark that Google uses to assess the quality of a site’s user experience, depending on the size of the site. A huge site like Amazon, for example, will have a higher bar for the number of links that can be considered healthy, compared to a small startup site with less than 20 pages.
When adding footer links to your site, it’s important to make sure that it’s done naturally, and not in a way that’s blatantly intended to manipulate search results. Most, if not all footer links should point to other pages within your site. Any external links should contribute to improving the site user’s experience by pointing to topically relevant content, and should use branded anchor text free of keywords.
Footer Links FAQs
Should I nofollow footer links?
Are footer links bad for seo?
Footer links are not inherently bad for SEO, and can often help a page’s rankings by contributing to a positive user experience. However, because footer links have been used extensively for black hat unnatural link building, footer backlinks should adhere to best practices.
Questions to ask your link builder