Update: Now use the SEO WordSpinner plugin to implement this concept.
get_seo_spin() PHP function in your theme’s
Footer links are dropping in SEO value
How to stay relevant while getting great links
As a web designer and SEO, I place links in the footers of most of my designs. Clients don’t mind (I always request the link), and it’s a high-quality link. Most small web design and SEO companies do. Footer links have become very spammy, however, and sites try to stuff as many links there as possible.
SEOmoz has an article about footer link optimization and claims that
Footer links may be devalued by search engines automatically
Check out the evidence – Yahoo! says they may devalue footer links, Bill Slawski uncovers patents suggesting the same and anecdotal evidence suggests Google might do this (or go further) as well. Needless to say, if you want to make sure your links are passing maximum value, it’s wise to avoid the footer (particularly the footer class itself).
The era of the PageRank-passing footer links are coming to an end. The search engines have a good reason for devaluing the links — but how can we get the juice back?
Let’s consider the following issues:
- Footer links are being devalued by search engines
- Footer links have a low click-through rate
- Having the same link on every page makes the link less valuable
- Google doesn’t like spam
Stop footer link extinction by understanding the cause.
Why footer links are being devalued
The problem search engines have with attribute links is that they’re on every page in the same place, are off-topic, and exist solely to build links.
The irrelevant links at the bottom of a page, which will not be as valuable for a user, don’t add to the quality of the user experience, so we don’t account for those in our ranking.
Priyank Garg, Yahoo! Search Technology
Links that are not seen as valuable for a user or add to the quality of the user experience will be ignored. The key, then, is to provide users with value. Value = unique and relevant content.
- Placement & Structure: Links are on the bottom of the page. Many footer DIVs are named something like #footer, so are easily identifiable.
- Anchor Text & Outbound Links
- Not Unique: Attribute links are often the same on every page, obviously not unique content. Links often go to the same URL.
- Not Relevant: How often do you see a relevant and unique-seeming attribution link? Never.
a) Placement & Structure: Randomize link location
Step 1: Let’s randomize!
It’s well known that having the same code on every page isn’t as valuable as having different code in different places. So, instead of having a link always at the bottom, randomize the placement.
Step 2: Change up the tag
Now that your link and text is in a different place, you want to also make sure that there’s another variable to add an additional layer of uniqueness.
- <h2><a href=
- <h3><a href=
- <h4><a href=
- <h5><a href=
- <strong><a href=
- <em><a href=
- <span><a href=
b) Anchor Text & Outbound Links: Be unique and relevant
If you’re pushing the same, highly-targeted keywords on all the affiliate links, that is a problem. Or, rather, it will be a problem when search engines really start coming down hard on this issue.
Step 1: Randomizing the anchor text and link provides variety
Instead of having one message, mixing up the text will make each link unique.
- Denver SEO
- SEO Denver
- Denver SEO Company
- WordPress SEO
- Blog SEO
You see the value in that? Yeah, well the algorithm will, too. Unfortunately, it’s a little spammy, and the humans doing quality control might not like it as much.
Step 2: Making the links and anchor text relevant
If you’re working on a Widget site, then the obvious way to make the link more on-topic is to have your links go to a Widget SEO post on your blog, a Widget Site Portfolio page on your website, or even perform a search on your blog for widgets. Even if it turns up an empty result, the links will be more on topic.
- How SEO Helps Widget Companies – points to an article on your blog
- Our company got Small Business SEO services – points to page on your website
- We LOVE our new website – points to Widget Co. testimonial on your website
- How we rank well in searches – points to article on Widget site about your SEO company
Each of the unique anchor text options now go to a relevant, targeted page, and most important: the links are not spammy. Of course, if you want to stick with the Step 1 version and use “spammy”-seeming links, that is fine, too. Until your site gets banned. For a less spammy tactic, you can add another variable: the title attribute. Hover over the links above. Not spam, but a good link that has value to the user AND is chock full of SEO awesomeness.
Check out the SEO Randomizer code
Based on the concepts in this article, I have been working on a PHP script that could be added to a WordPress functions.php file.
Check out the SEO Randomizer demo and here’s the SEO Randomizer source code. Use the SEO WordSpinner plugin to implement this concept.
WordPress ‘User Value SEO Plugin’ to come
Katz Web Design is going to be developing a plugin for WordPress that will incorporate all of these features into a wonderful SEO plugin. Stay tuned.
Update: Katz Web Services has released the SEO WordSpinner plugin that allows you to put this concept into practice today. Try it out, and leave a comment with what you think of the plugin!
What do you think? Leave comments, improvements, criticism, etc. below.