Q and A: Are site wide footer links OK for SEO?


Hey Kalena,

What are your thoughts on having links to other pages of my web site at the bottom of each of my web pages? Will this help or hurt our rankings? Is this a more outdated practice?

Thanks! -Lisa

Hi Lisa,

Including Links within a site wide footer is a fairly common practice that has been around for a long time – and in fact has seen a bit of a resurgence in the designs of a lot of Web 2.0 sites.

Providing you are sensible in the use of these types of links they should help, rather than hurt your rankings.  In many cases the footer provides a logical place to provide links to the main sections of your site – and also allows you to include search engine friendly text based (and keyword rich) anchor text.

Footer links can make it easier for users to navigate your site – without having to scroll back to the top of the page.  However,  I recommend that you use footer links in moderation – I suggest a maximum of a dozen or so.  If there are too many (particularly if they are heavily keyword optimised) they can start to look spammy (to search engines as well as users) and may start to have a negative impact on rankings and conversions.

Google has also suggested that you should try and limit the number of links per page  to a maximum of about 100.  If you have a large number of links in your page footers this could become an issue.

As a general rule, if it’s good for your users it will be good for search rankings.  If you are thinking of doing anything to your site primarily for the benefit of the search engines rather than your users, then you should think long and hard before going ahead with it.

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

Twitter Says Yahoo! to a Larger Audience

Yahoo and Twitter announced a partnership today that will see Twitter provide Yahoo with access to their full tweet feed, nicknamed The Firehose.

The deal will result in tweets appearing in Yahoo Search as well as other Yahoo properties such as the Yahoo Homepage, Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Sports. Yahoo will also integrate Twitter clients into their various applications so that Twitter users can tweet from within the Yahoo network.

The partnership announcement was delivered to media with an embargo, but within a few hours the story broke on the blogosphere and Yahoo pretty much gave the game away with the *clues* they posted on Twitter.

With a worldwide audience of 600 million, Yahoo offers Twitter significant exposure to add to their existing partnerships with the other major search giants Bing and Google.

Study Proves Power of Top 5 Google Positions

Ok, so I know this study is a few years old now, but for some reason, I’m seeing it for the first time this week and the graphic is a powerful one that I wanted to share.

A few years back, Cornell University ran an eye tracking study using undergraduate students to determine how people interact with Google SERPs. They instructed the students to perform searches in Google for 400 different queries, covering a diverse range of topics including movies, travel, music, politics, local and trivia.

Here’s the meat:

The study concluded that eye fixation on the first two listings took up half of the user’s attention span. After the second listing, the eye fixation dropped sharply. Search results 6 to 10 received roughly equal attention.

In terms of click through, nearly 80% of web searchers clicked on the top 3 search results, with  the top 5 spots receiving 88% of traffic. Most fascinating was that the difference in the number of clicks between position #1 and position #2 was over four times!

While the advent of Google personalized search, real time search and social search since the study has likely impacted these results somewhat, it still proves the power of holding a Top 5 position on Google, particularly a #1 if you can swing it.

Having recently attained a #1 position for a highly competitive search term where I’ve sat at position #2 for many months, I can personally vouch for the turbo boost impact of the top slot.

What about you? Have you noticed any trends that would verify the results of this study even today? Please share your observations in the comments.

An Overview of Bing Webmaster Center

Hands up those of you who have verified your sites with Google Webmaster Tools? Ok, good. Now keep your hands up if you’ve done the same for Yahoo Site Explorer? Hmmm a few hands dropped then.

Now keep your hands up if you’ve verified your site with Bing Webmaster Center? Oh dear.

Seems quite a few webmasters are concentrating on Google and forgetting about the other major search engines. If you want to understand how search engines interact with your site and find potential issues before they impact your traffic, you really need to verify your site and sitemaps with the big 3 and monitor your stats regularly.

Most people are familiar with Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer, but today I want to give you a brief overview of Bing Webmaster Center.

To add a site to Bing Webmaster Center, simply login to your Bing account (or create a new one) and then type in a URL and a sitemap if you have one. You will be prompted to verify your site via either a meta verification tag you place in your home page header, or an XML file that you upload to your server.

Once you’ve verified your first site, you’ll see a dashboard that looks quite similar to Google Webmaster Tools, with the following tabs:

  • Summary – lists the date Bing last crawled your site, the number of indexed pages, your domain score and the top 5 pages of your site.
  • Profile – lists your URL, the verification process you used and the email address associated with your site.
  • Crawl Issues – lists any issues Bing discovered while crawling and indexing your site, such as 404 errors, malware infections and long dynamic URLs.
  • Backlinks – lists which webpages (including your own) are linking to your site.
  • Outbound Links – lists the web pages your site is linking to.
  • Keywords – allows you to see how your pages are performing in search results for specific keywords.
  • Sitemaps – provides various ways for you to notify MSNBot of new sitemaps or when you change an existing sitemap.

The following additional tools are available when you’re logged into Webmaster Center:

  • Robots.txt validator
  • HTTP verifier
  • Keyword research tool

So don’t ignore Bing Webmaster Center. Remember that Google is NOT the Internet.

Microhoo Deal Given Thumbs Up to Proceed

Microsoft and Yahoo announced today that their planned Search Alliance has been given the go-ahead by the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission without any restrictions.

The exact implementation is yet to be announced, but will involve Yahoo shifting their organic and paid search operations to Microsoft. Yahoo will then display primary search results from Bing and enhance them with Yahoo content.

From Yahoo’s official press release:

“Implementation of the deal is expected to begin in the coming days and will involve transitioning Yahoo!’s algorithmic and paid search platforms to Microsoft, with Yahoo! becoming the exclusive relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers globally. Once the transition is completed, the companies’ unified search marketplace will deliver improved innovation for consumers, better volume and efficiency for advertisers and better monetization opportunities for web publishers through a platform that contains a larger pool of search queries.”

Advertising for both companies will be managed by Microsoft’s adCenter platform (meaning the closure of Yahoo Search Marketing) and prices for all search ads will be set by AdCenter’s automated auction process.

According to a memo sent to all Yahoo advertisers today:

  • Yahoo Search Marketing advertisers will log into one place – Microsoft’s adCenter – to manage campaigns, for greater efficiency and a better ROI.
  • Yahoo is hoping to transition advertisers and partners in the U.S. prior to October 2010, but may wait until 2011 for efficiency reasons.
  • Advertisers will reach users on Yahoo! and Microsoft sites as well as other premium partner sites, with a single buy on adCenter.
  • Yahoo will give Search Marketing advertisers 3 months warning of any changes to take place.

The two search giants have created a web site dedicated to the partnership and Yahoo has implemented a Transition Center for advertisers.

What does it mean for the search industry? To use a silly dinosaur analogy, (because who doesn’t like those?), it means that Bing the Triceratops and Yahoo the Brontosaurus have just combined to become an aggressive Tyrannosaurus Rex that’s going on a hunt for the Google Gigantosaurus.

Should be quite a spectacle.