Google SEO & Search Engine Marketing Services

Footer Links Still Work!! Google, What Are You Doing?

I thought I would write a laid back sort of post today as I indulged in stats enough at the beginning of the week :), however my post today is born out of Mondays Link Building Factors post.

Let me first start by saying this post is a semi rant, it is based on something that became apparent during my research that I think Google has terribly wrong, not the first time I have thought this but the situation is particularly annoying and devalues search results in my opinion.

The main thing I wanted to put across when starting this blog was SEO techniques that really work, not fluff and theory but the real reasons sites rank where they do.

Today I want to talk about something that is helping sites rank but, and for a change I think Google should kick it to the curb.

Ok here we go; I would really appreciate your thoughts and feedback on this everyone.

Right, when I was assessing the sites from by previous research it became rather apparent that sheer link popularity and anchor text were a substantial ranking factor, no secrets there.

I have always been a fan of link diversity or acquiring links from as many different unique domains as possible, I feel this looks more natural and shows a greater degree of quality. So you can imagine my surprise first of all, when link diversity comes out as the weakest link profile factor, if that wasn’t bad enough wait until you here the full story.

So I was disappointed, something I believed in seems to be wrong, as you can imagine I didn’t just live with it, I took a little closer look at why this is happening.

So I pick a few sites with 20, 30 thousand links from only 300 or so domains, how are they getting all these links from so few domains? Do they have multiple directory listings? Have they submitted 10000 articles?? In short no.

The reason why their link diversity was down below 1% is because of footer links.

Footer links show on every page of a site so 1 domain could give you thousands of links, OK there is nothing wrong with this but should all these links carry weight and help a site to rank??

Let’s just side step a minute and refer to a video Matt Cutts published about a month ago;

Does Google treat links in footers differently??? hmmmmmm.

If you didn’t watch the video Matt states link analysis has moved on since the early days of PageRank and that Google reserve the right to treat links differently.

Here are my thoughts (for what they’re worth)

“Google, please stop reserving the right and start using it, this will make the index much more trustworthy and add quality”

My problem with footer links is simple, anyone can add a link to the footer of a site and it will appear on hundreds of pages, all pages will pass link juice and anchor text back to your site.

Get footer links from 50 – 100 different sites and you could well see your rankings in Google surge, but is this right?

Is it right that a site with 50,000 links from 500 domains should out rank a site with 10,000 from 2500 domains?? Which one would you trust more?

Tim, are you saying link weight should be go on diversity instead of popularity?

No, popularity still needs to be taken into consideration as multiple links from the same domain can still suggest quality, however I strongly feel more weight should be given to the diversity of domains in your portfolio or that Google needs to use their reserved right and only count footer links as 1 link; not a thousand.

So my advice is, if you want to rank high at the minute just go grab a 100 footer links and anchor the text, however I feel that things will change in Google before long and a strong change in the SERPS will be seen because of it.

I have to conclude with one thing, I have been discussing my findings with Rand Fishkin, Ben Hendrickson and Nick Gerner from SEOmoz and it seems there is a big difference in the way Google ranks sites on the .co.uk domain in comparison to the .com domain. It seems Google takes diversity a lot more serious over at .com but leaves the .co.uk results looking a little on the spammy side. The reason for this will most likely never be known but please Google sort our results!

Please if you have any thoughts on this, leave them below.

I need to do more research into this .uk , .com comparison. For me it simply makes sense to award the pages with a diverse set of references or as we like to call them links.

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Author: Tim (254 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.

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{ 2 comments }

ravi karandeekar October 17, 2009 at 6:05 am

Yes, there is a big difference in the way Google ranks sites on the other domains in comparison to the .com domain. Sure, Google should treat these domains differently. Particularly, the smaller and newer domains. Isn’t it?

Tim October 17, 2009 at 10:11 am

@ravi,

I haven’t carried out any indepth research as yet but it seems on the face of it the ranking factors for co.uk are different to .com. Its a n interesting concept, is search engine optimisation different depending on your locality? I plan on looking into it.

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