"Web Design by" Footer links?

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  • SEO
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It's Sunday, so I had time for stuff I normally put off like competitor analysis for our own website.

Our local competitors all build websites (we do too!). We all know that footer links are frowned upon by Google. Especially if you don't NoFollow them.

But each and every one of our competitors that rank well have hundreds or even thousands of them. It's pretty easy to tell who their clients are just by doing a backlink analysis.

So, I was going to try to get a consensus here. Should I go all-in with footer links on our client sites?

In some cases, the agencies ranking for keywords I want to be on the map for have almost nothing but footer links on client sites that don't even relate to what they do. It's everything from moving companies to dental clinics linking back to them.

But most of these are local businesses, so I am thinking there is something to this strategy from a local pack perspective.

Thoughts?
#footer #links #web design by
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    I think it is a douchy move for an agency to do unless you are paying the client for the ad space or offering them a discount for your services.

    If I pay someone to design a website for me, I'm not also going to allow them to advertise on it for free.
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    • Profile picture of the author Blakers1
      Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

      I think it is a douchy move for an agency to do unless you are paying the client for the ad space or offering them a discount for your services.

      If I pay someone to design a website for me, I'm not also going to allow them to advertise on it for free.
      So every single agency in my market is douchy then. I'm not just talking about homepage footer links either. LOL!

      One of our biggest local competitor has hundreds of footer links on each and every blog post they wrote for a moving company.

      And it's been like that for at least a year with no repercussions from Google.

      We're already the lowest cost web design agency in our market, so I am thinking I should just add a clause to our contract that says something like "CLIENT agrees to allow WEBOLOGY to insert 1 footer link back to our site on all main pages of their site in exchange for ____ discount".

      I'd much rather just rank our own site through outreach, but meanwhile we are losing business by not matching our competitors and outranking them.

      But then I have to think, "what if we're one core algorithm update away from those agencies getting hit hard by Google?"

      Thanks for your input, I'm still trying to figure out how I want to proceed.
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      Blake Akers
      Webology

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      • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
        Originally Posted by Blakers1 View Post

        So every single agency in my market is douchy then. I'm not just talking about homepage footer links either. LOL!

        One of our biggest local competitor has hundreds of footer links on each and every blog post they wrote for a moving company.

        And it's been like that for at least a year with no repercussions from Google.

        We're already the lowest cost web design agency in our market, so I am thinking I should just add a clause to our contract that says something like "CLIENT agrees to allow WEBOLOGY to insert 1 footer link back to our site on all main pages of their site in exchange for ____ discount".

        I'd much rather just rank our own site through outreach, but meanwhile we are losing business by not matching our competitors and outranking them.

        But then I have to think, "what if we're one core algorithm update away from those agencies getting hit hard by Google?"

        Thanks for your input, I'm still trying to figure out how I want to proceed.

        Yes. They are all douchy. Some are even jackasses. If they are using anchor relevant links instead of just their business name, they have blown right past douchy into jackass territory.

        I think you are looking at this all wrong. You should see it as an opportunity.

        You know what I do when I see those links? I use them to gather up all of that firm's clients, and I pick up the phone and start calling them all. I explain to them that their marketing agency is feeding off the authority of their site without their permission to improve their business. The links have a negative impact on the client's site (They do. They are funneling off linkjuice from the site).

        It is an easy way to start a conversation and get your foot in the door. You'd be shocked at how many clients I have picked up this way over the years.
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        • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
          Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

          Yes. They are all douchy. Some are even jackasses. If they are using anchor relevant links instead of just their business name, they have blown right past douchy into jackass territory.

          I think you are looking at this all wrong. You should see it as an opportunity.

          You know what I do when I see those links? I use them to gather up all of that firm's clients, and I pick up the phone and start calling them all. I explain to them that their marketing agency is feeding off the authority of their site without their permission to improve their business. The links have a negative impact on the client's site (They do. They are funneling off linkjuice from the site).

          It is an easy way to start a conversation and get your foot in the door. You'd be shocked at how many clients I have picked up this way over the years.
          Was going to suggest the exact same thing.

          They are actively damaging their clients sites SEO in at least three ways.

          1. They are stealing link benefit/PageRank from their clients sites. Businesses pay good money for backlinks, they are taking them for free. Some of the links could be worth thousands of dollars a year.

          2. They are altering the keywords target on a webpage: If there's a footer link with "Web design by LowLife Designs", Google will take that content into account when ranking those webpages with the text/link, so unless the webpage is targeting SERPs related to "Web design by LowLife Designs" it's causing SEO damage.

          3. They are risking their clients sites rankings by adding footer links which we all know Google doesn't agree with. This could get both parties sites downgraded in Google organic SERPs.

          When I've explained this to website owners they tend not to be too happy about it.

          You could also report your competitors to Google, with a little luck they'll be penalized.

          David
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Google doesn't have a problem with all footer links, they're not all equal.

    What Google frowned on was sitewide footer links. So, just add a link in the Home page footer since that's usually going to have the most organic links out of all the pages on the site.

    The client ethics thing is your call.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    Hi Blakers,

    If you are doing free work, advertise via footer. Reckon you'd agree on this with client before.

    If you are getting paid for the work, not a good look. Desperate methinks. Once you get paid, you're invisible. This is why I don't advertise my name or link for freelance clients. They pay me for my:

    - writing expertise
    - content

    They are not paying to advertise my business on their site. I'd pay them for that, or I'd build such a strong friendship with them over years that this isn't even a question, and linking happens organically, no worries.

    Ryan
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    Ryan Biddulph, Blogger, Author, World Traveling Digital Nomad
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    • Profile picture of the author Blakers1
      Yea, we do have a great relationship with most of our clients and they don't mind helping us promote what we do. So, it's not an issue and we always ask if we are going to do it.

      My main concern is seeming spammy in the eyes of Google. But it's not hurting anyone else in our market at the moment.
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      Blake Akers
      Webology

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  • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
    You are running a huge risk with comment spamming like this link lindseybuckle.com: Digital Marketing - what do I actually do? (the link with anchor text Jessica).

    Very efficiently written information. It will be beneficial to anybody who utilizes it, including me. Keep up the good work. For sure i will check out more posts. This site seems to get a good amount of visitors. Jessica
    That is standard comment spam text with a link, IF I considered you competition I'd report it as comment SPAM : all is fair in business.

    What you've added here Home - Whitesel Farm Market is spammy and risky, it's sitewide backlink to your site from the footer.

    Cautionary tale: I used to give away free AdSense/SEO WordPress themes with sitewide foot links. Didn't hide anything, it was made clear the link was in the footer and the theme user could remove the link if they wanted to.

    The site in question gained millions of backlinks (some really good ones) and did really well in relevant niches until Google downgraded the entire domain! Got the webmaster notification about the backlinks etc... I let the domain expire as it's now worthless.

    This occurred 6+ years ago, Google is even better at spotting this sort of manipulation now, be VERY careful, your competition and you might not have been hit yet, but you don't have that many backlinks, you could become a victim of your own success (like I was) as you add more footer links and more comment spam. I found it in 30 seconds, Google is faster WHEN it's looking.

    David
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    • Profile picture of the author Blakers1
      Oh wow, I didn't even see that link you pointed out! I'm not even sure how it got there. Seriously, we have done SOME commenting in the past, but not like that.
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      Blake Akers
      Webology

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