Glossary | 3 mins
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Sitewide links are any outbound links that appear on each page of a website, usually within the footer, main navigation menu, or a sidebar. These links typically link out to social media pages, the business’s page on a review aggregator site, and other third-party domains that involve the referring site in some way.
In the early days of SEO, creating sitewide links was a quick and easy way of building high volumes of backlinks in a short space of time, and artificially inflating a site’s Google rankings. This all changed in 2012, when Google released its Penguin update, aimed at undermining the rankings of sites that had been using black hat SEO methods. This was a wake-up call for many SEOs, and accelerated a shift in thinking spurred on by the knowledge that any links that Google deems unnatural can be dangerous if they find their way into your backlink profile.
Sitewide Links Relation to SEO
Although the subject of sitewide links can carry negative connotations due to the ways they were implemented in the past, they’re not necessarily a bad thing for your site’s SEO. If an external site links to yours using a sitewide link, and the link is completely natural, then this shouldn’t pose any risk to your site’s rankings.
Footer and sidebar links that credit a web designer, credit the CMS used to create the site, or link out to another owned and related domain, are all common examples of innocuous sitewide links.
The fact that sitewide links aren’t inherently bad raises the obvious question: can they be used to improve a site’s organic rankings?
Although it’s possible that sitewide backlinks can help a site’s rankings, it’s generally accepted that Google doesn’t weigh them as heavily as links that are included naturally in pieces of content, with plenty of contextual information that will fortify the link’s topical relevance. Therefore, if you have a logical, natural reason to build sitewide backlinks, you should do it, but there’s no real reason to go out of your way to build them or try to force them into your link building strategy.
Sitewide Links Best Practices
When you’re building sitewide backlinks, and deciding whether or not it’s a good idea from an SEO perspective, you should generally follow the exact same rules you would for any other backlinks.
The link should appear in a way that’s likely to provide added value to visitors on the referring domain, and should be relevant to the surrounding content on the page. The anchor text shouldn’t be stuffed with keywords, and shouldn’t look unnatural in the context of the other links on the referring page.
Sitewide Link FAQs
What are sitewide links?
Sitewide links are any links that appear sitewide, that is, on every page of a given domain. They’re typically found in a site’s footer, a sidebar, or in the main navigation menu.
When should you use a sitewide link?
Sitewide backlinks aren’t weighed as heavily as contextual backlinks. Like any backlink, sitewide links should be used in a natural, logical way that’s intended to provide added value to a site user visiting the referring domain.
Questions to ask your link builder