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 Is this a more outdated practice?
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.
Ireckon Web Marketing
Great answer! Working on the internal link structure of your website is one of the most important things in regards to SEO. Footer navigation can indeed be a good part of this.
I did a usability test a few months back and one of the conclusions was that the people in the test really liked to use the big footer. They were using it a lot although the main navigation was quite clear which was quite remarkable to find out
Not sure if I would say that Internal links are “one of the most important things”, but certainly once the fundamentals like Content and External links are basically sound, Internal link strategy is one of the areas that can provide good results.
Thanks also for bringing up Usability Testing – this is another important(and often overlooked) tool. As you have highlighted, sometimes users actually prefer to use the simple text based footer navigation over (sometimes) complicated menus and navigation structures in the header.
I’ve always found that links in footer are great for your internal linking structure, I did a few tests, taking links out and adding links in and found that havin 20 – 25 links worked best, especially with SEO.
I added links to the bottom of my site after reading this article and noticed that people are viewing more pages per visit now. Thanks for this!
That’s a good point – anything you can do to make your site more user friendly (such as making it easier to navigate your site by providing footer based navigation), is also likely to make your users hang around. Obviously the longer they stay the more likely they are to “buy” (or come back) – which has to be a good thing.
Once you have a “reasonable” level of traffic coming to your site – very often Conversion Optimisation strategies are likely to have a greater impact on your bottom line than traditional SEO techniques. This doesn’t mean that you can forget about SEO of course, but don’t ignore usability testing and conversion tracking either.
Interesting comment on a site about SEO:
“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.”
You’ve raised some great points here Andy. I definitely agree that you can give your site a major boost, both in terms of improving usability and pageviews as well as improving your site’s indexing by directing spiders to your important section root pages.
One thing that I think needs clarifying in any discussion about footer links is that these benefits are most apparent on INTERNAL links. Links to external sites on the other hand, whether a simple designer’s credit in the corner or a huge paragraph full of “Other Sites In Our Network” links are of much less value. SE’s have seen far too much abuse from these types of external links to pass much, if any, value through them any more. There certainly much less ROI now than in previous years to be gained from the effort it takes when link building if all you’re getting are footer links from other sites.
Thanks for highlighting that Rob,
Many people seem to think that Search Engine Optimisation is all about tactics to trick the search engines into giving a site high rankings, but for sites that provide good, quality, unique content, that is actually useful to people, SEO is simply a matter of making it easy for the search engines to find.
The primary “job” of any Search Engine is to provide useful information, so if the Search Engine is any good, it will naturally give higher rankings for sites with useful content. Once people discover the site (and find it useful), they will also naturally bookmark and link to it – further raising the sites credibility and improving its rankings.
On the other hand, websites without any real content or of little real benefit to users find that they have to resort to tricks and tactics in order to try and be found on the SERPs. These types of strategies may even achieve some short term results, but without the backing of content and links they are ultimately doomed to failure.
This may just be repeating what you wrote, but to me, there are three things:
1) Site usability, usefulness, whether it’s sticky, etc., this is all about content. It will cause users to return, refer and maybe link back.
2) SEO optimization. All the stuff the user can’t see, and some that they can if they know what they are looking for. This done correctly sets you up to be found, indexed, and potentially ranked highly. If…
3) Page rank – this is still all about backlinks, whether it’s still cool to think this way or not. Almost every site on page ONE have thousands of back links. That’s enough evidence I think.
So, to me, you do MANY things with only the search engines in mind. You have to. But at the same time, you offer solid content.
“SEO is simply a matter of making it easy for the search engines to find”
Finally someone has hit this on the head, great comment Andy!
“On the other hand, websites without any real content or of little real benefit to users find that they have to resort to tricks and tactics”
Defo agree on this – I saw a beautiful website the other day which was just image based on the homepage and ranked very very well, then I saw a little link at the bottom of the page, clicked it and wow, 100’s of 1000’s of words, keyword stuffing etc etc – it just ruined my interpretation of the website, brand and company.
Thank You for all the interesting posts. They really helped me ! Between, you just got a new subscriber now!
Footer links can make it easier for people to use the site and they can be useful for SEO. As the home page is usually the easiest to rank, I like to make sure each of the linked pages links back to the home page. It’s important to remmeber that every link is taking some PR juice away from the home page and if it is an important landing page, which it usually is, it needs all the internal pr flowed back. If there are specific landing pages that are more important, they will be important for users and seo so link away to those.
Wow, Thanks this is just what I have been looking and I have bookmarked for great tips on SEO
We have tried links in the footer and without, and we agree that you will get more page views because of this. LT
I usually use them.
According to Matt Cutts… footer links do count and will still pass some link juice.
I have noted too many people get confused by this point,
but what Matt Cutts said,
footer links do count and will still pass some link juice.
its true that a link is a link so the more links back to yout site the better. I’ve run tests and the higher up in the CODE they are the better. Google seems to like first few links more.
Thanks for the professional seo suggestion, I will implement it in our all the websites and Blogs.
I would like to thank you all for these great comments, I’m now doing a research about websites wide footers and how this technique could affect SEO.
Thank you all !