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Linking to my SEO site in clients footer
jonpoh




msg:4205041
 11:13 pm on Sep 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've had several of my SEO clients offer me space at the bottom of their home pages to link back to my company website with a text link. I'm wondering that would be considered tacky by the members of this group and also if anyone has seen that hurt their clients ranking. I've gone years without using my clients sites to link to mine so its no big deal. And I don't want to add a link like "Search Optimization Service by ABC SEO" and then have that be a red flag for google and cause my client to loose search positions. Thanks for your opinions.

 

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4205068
 12:20 am on Sep 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you place a link on clients sites your site will become heavy with "footer links" which will probably cause the links value to diminish. It's expected that your site will obtain a lot of different types of links (comments, forums, index, in-content, directory etc) so when your site has mostly one type it doesn't look natural.

Can't hurt, you may see a small boost in rankings, but probably can't help all that much either. I'd do it to see if I get additional direct business from the links but I'd stop doing it if that doesn't happen. A natural link graph is simply the best kind though it takes time.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4205183
 9:31 am on Sep 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you place a link on clients sites your site will become heavy with "footer links" which will probably cause the links value to diminish.

Do you have any actual evidence that this can happen? How does G determine what is a footer link?

McMohan




msg:4205608
 4:42 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Perhaps we fear Google more than what is necessary. Footer links from websites to the design company is almost a industry norm and I know web design sites that dominate SERPs solely on account of footer links from their clients. If I were you, I would jump at this opportunity without any concern for a possible red flag.

martinibuster




msg:4205623
 5:42 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

They likely won't help with ranking.

Just my opinion, but I think it does not help your client because SEO work should be considered a business secret. Professional bass fishermen have their secret baits, techniques, etc. SEO should really be considered a businesses secret sauce and nobody outside of the company has a need to know about it.

I know there are SEOs who like to brag that their clients are whatever or whatever, but I think that's foolish and not in the best interest of the client. It helps those SEOs attract clients to brag about who their clients are, but it only creates an opportunity to bring scrutiny on the site. While some may say they have nothing to hide, any SEO work done on a site is open to scrutiny and if the search engines feel the work gives an unfair advantage to the site they may take action to dampen the effectiveness of the work.

thelostagency




msg:4205630
 6:16 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

There are two sites to this one is you are right you don't really need to highlight to google or their competitors that they are doing seo... but if you are doing a discounted rate or pro-bono work for a client then it can't hurt.

The only point is that most sites have "seo" by .... and most of those companies don't rank #1 for any reasonable seo related terms... not sure if that is Google discounting links or a sign they really aren't that good...

thelostagency




msg:4205631
 6:17 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

@BeeDeeDubbleU i would say that Google doesn't value them as highly because they are at the bottom of the page last link out etc...

But how many clients want to give you a link above the fold?

martinibuster




msg:4205642
 6:59 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

>>> i would say that Google doesn't value them as highly because...

There's more at work than being in the footer. The footer discounting is a recent refinement to a much larger set of PR discounting, that's just something new that's been recently discussed. There is more going on, a lot more, to discount links. The foundation of that goes back many years. The footer thing is merely a small refinement of the overall discounting of links. There is more going on.

About seven years ago someone from Google at an SES conference stated that Google was discounting links from unrelated sites. She said they were passing LESS PageRank based on relevance of one site to another. This was about the time that the toolbar PR of web design companies started sinking, indicating that the "designed by" links were counting for less. This statement also preceded Update Florida [webmasterworld.com] by a few months. Update Florida [webmasterworld.com] was, as I recall, the rocky implementation of a new approach to relevance that has been continually refined to this day.

It's not just being in the footer that may cause a discounting of the amount of PR flowing. That's is just one of the latest refinements in the discounting they have been doing for many years. That's why I stated in my previous post that those links will likely not help.

As for pro-bono, I still don't think that is a valid excuse for doing something that may possibly undermine the SEO work that was done for them. A site that is the recipient of pro-bono work can still be valuable as a business reference.

curioustoddler




msg:4205654
 8:13 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

For search engine rankings footer links may be discounted, devalues or looked down But for web design firms it is a different story. If site is really good, then it sends good customers. I get enquiries from a specifc trade for web design because we have one good site in the trade which has our footer links. As long as these footer links from client sites are sending me business, I do not care how search engines treat them.

thelostagency




msg:4205662
 8:32 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

@curioustoddler and that's the best type of link if you get referrals which convert to leads/sales you don't have to be fighting to be ranked #1 for "web design new york"

i think that is also something google would prefer but then again in time maybe they develop a CPA link product that allows you to buy those placements like you do with adwords?

buckworks




msg:4205663
 8:36 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

As long as these footer links from client sites are sending me business


Ummm .... what matters here is that the clients get the maximum business performance from their sites!

Suggestion: Give yourself a few words of credit on the About Us page, where it would be relevant, but not plastered all over the site. If you really want to take the ethical high road, use an unlinked URL.

A new prospect who is smart enough to be the kind of client you'd want would have little trouble finding you from that, and it would totally avoid any questions of interfering with the client site's ability to rank.

McMohan




msg:4205687
 10:05 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

That's why I stated in my previous post that those links will likely not help


How do you account for very high PR accumulated by software sites such as free forum software, ecommerce shopping carts etc? Aren't their PR mainly due to the tiny footer links such as "Site Powered by..." on numerous unrelated websites?

HuskyPup




msg:4205712
 11:03 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've had several of my SEO clients offer me


Do I assume you have not constructed the sites originally?

As a site constructor and SEOer I link every site I've ever built back to my main construction site and none of them have ever been hampered in any SERPs with that link alongside W3C, Copyright, Legal, Privacy, Cookies and CSS all in the footer.

Insofar as I am concerned this has been my standard practice since the mid 90s and I ain't going to change it now.

I suppose the real question is do your clients really want their competitors to know who has SEOed their sites if they are doing extremely well?

Plus, do you actually want/need business from your successful sites' competitors?

FranticFish




msg:4205725
 11:49 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've always asked for a discreet link on client sites - either from the home page or the contact page (not site-wide). These vary according to the service provided and I also vary the text in them.

If the client has no objection, why should you not get credit for your work? I fail to see why these could hurt rankings in any way - if added naturally, as and when new sites come online.

Not only that, these links get clicked on and have generated new business.

I link to all of my clients too, except where prevented by NDA.

curioustoddler




msg:4205729
 11:59 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

A new prospect who is smart enough to be the kind of client you'd want would have little trouble finding you from that, and it would totally avoid any questions of interfering with the client site's ability to rank.


Yes it is possible to just give URL of our site without hyperlink. But then everyone will have to copy and paste it in browser. And believe me, most of my clients come from brick and mortar, conventional businesses and if they find something like this, they will consider this as a non working link, something wrong with our site design.
As I mentioned these clients come from conventional businesses, they are not sites developed just to get business from search engine rankings. They are not dependent on search engine rankings for business. And still most of then rank well for their keywords.

martinibuster




msg:4205881
 4:10 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

How do you account for very high PR accumulated by software sites such as free forum software...


That's a valid question. Let's take phpBB for an example. phpBB [phpbb.com] has over sixty million backlinks [au.search.yahoo.com] yet only has a PageRank of five. Forum software used to show more PR, but I guess the toolbar probably caught up to what was going on internally at Google. When you type Forum Software in Google, Wikipedia ranks #1. Not phpbb, not vbulletin. :) They do rank in the top five, but Wikipedia is #1. But this is just quibbling with extreme examples. What shows in the toolbar doesn't really matter, but google does engineer it to motivate and give a disincentive to certain behaviors. If an extreme example like this, where 60 million backlinks can't beat Wikipedia, what does that mean for the ranking effectivenes "SEO By" link?

I agree that referral traffic is good, particularly for web design, however SEO Work is different. Some companies even ask you to sign an NDA and a Non-compete clause. The reason they ask this is because SEO work should be kept confidential for competitive reasons. It's what makes one business more competitive than another. What is in it for them to reveal their competitive advantage?

[edited by: martinibuster at 4:28 pm (utc) on Sep 23, 2010]

netmeg




msg:4205887
 4:23 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm wondering that would be considered tacky by the members of this group


To address this part specifically - I ran across one of these (that was SEO not web design) for the first time this week, and yes, I think it's tacky. I don't put links on client sites, for SEO or PPC or design or anything. They're paying me. I can get my own links.

SEOLair




msg:4205972
 6:51 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've seen web design firms have great success with footer links on clients sites. Some that have a very small SEO component rank for competitive SEO terms, simply by employing this strategy.

I think Google starts to deprecate the value of footer links if their are multiple and/or excessive ammounts. If you are the only external link in the footer, you should be fine. Just my opinion though :)

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4206005
 7:55 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wikipedia ranks #1. Not phpbb, not vbulletin.

Actually it is quite evident that Wikipedia is favoured by Google.

randle




msg:4206024
 8:25 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think it's tacky.


Its beyond tacky, its wrong; your taking advantage of the nature of your relationship with these people so you can get some link pop. Here's the thing, these “clients” your slapping your link on do not have an adequate understanding of the ramifications of having that link at the bottom of their home page, and often on the bottom of every single page on their site. If they did, they would not have hired you to create, or to optimize their site. If they hired you to “optimize” their site how exactly is this link of yours helping that effort? They look to you as the trusted authority, and as such are vulnerable to being steered into decisions that are not in their absolute best interest; even if they did “offer” for you to place it there.

That link is helping you more than them, however little that may be.

Robert Charlton




msg:4206052
 9:14 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

What martinibuster, randle, and others say above. It's beyond tacky and greedy... it's bad strategy.

From this discussion back in 2007...

Client links to SEO - Yay or Nay?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/link_development/3330795.htm [webmasterworld.com]

...a few comments...
I think a link to an SEO website is unnecessarily painting a bullseye on your clients' sites. I never publicly associate clients with each other or with me, and SEO links would do that.

Also, I think it may cost the client some credibility with searchers who find them, at least with those searchers who associate top position with the best companies. You don't want to undermine that.

McMohan




msg:4206202
 4:41 am on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

In last 10 years of SEO, I have had only one client site give a link to my site and that client was my classmate. I haven't asked clients for links, since they are paying me for my efforts and are under no obligation. But, if one chose to do it, is it a wrong strategy, ethically and/or technically? I beg to differ -

1. Ethically - In almost all print ads you will see the ad agency mentioned. How different would the mention of the SEO company on its clients' sites be?

2. Technically - I would equate link to an SEO company as a link to the web design company. I am yet to see a site that is adversely affected because it has a link to its designer. Or an e-commerce site because it gives link to its shopping cart software provider.

However, I agree, mentioning one's SEO is not in the client's favor and there should be a no-compete agreement, should the client mention the SEO.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4206254
 8:35 am on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ethically - In almost all print ads you will see the ad agency mentioned.

Almost all? Can't say that I am seeing this.


I would equate link to an SEO company as a link to the web design company.

I have to disagree with this. The website designer built the website that people are viewing. In most cases the SEO has nothing to do with the website per se. Wouldn't your reasoning justify links being provided to all people involved in promoting the business?

Robert Charlton




msg:4206261
 8:54 am on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

In almost all print ads you will see the ad agency mentioned.

I've not only never seen this... I'd considered raising the point in my post. This lack of creative or agency credits on print ads includes even double-page spreads in advertising trade publications, where there might be stronger motivation to have them and some room to spare.

bicycling




msg:4206264
 8:57 am on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I remember reading of an interview of Yahoo's top search engineer a year back. And he said that Footer Links are soon dismissed by them....and today it looks like they've been dismissed. No pun intended, but it does have a small factor to play. Maybe use an image & alt text to link back to you site instead. Should help to a certain degree ? We will never know...

Ivan




msg:4206625
 11:15 pm on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I worked for seo company that ranks mostly solely on footer links from clients, and ranks CORE, I mean CORE terms in my country like SEO services, SEO, SEO expert etc.

It works 100% you just need other link building in the mix, and you will fly.

thelostagency




msg:4206627
 11:31 pm on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

i would have to agree that i haven't seen any print ads saying booked by "WPP" or media buying by "GroupM" unless is probono/charity work that the client is not being charged for...

but here is the issue you put "seo" in the footer because that's how the client found you in the first place and if you put "seo" in the next client's footer you can expect to get more work.

The issue is that so many firms do this yet don't rank for a single core term... so can they really say they do good seo if they can't rank even with the keywords in the footer?

the point is that each new agency replaces the old seo agency in the footer so that has to have an impact on the value of the links as they don't have time to age... am i seeing this wrong?

martinibuster




msg:4206646
 12:14 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

in my country


Ranking criteria are looser outside of the United States and in non-English speaking countries. You can get away with far more.

bicycling




msg:4206703
 5:00 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wow Martinibuster thanks for the insight, then Ivan should be good to go with the footer, consider it as branding for your site as well. Do proceed.

incrediBILL




msg:4206730
 6:26 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've gone years without using my clients sites to link to mine so its no big deal.


Then why start now?

Footer links are tacky and mildly unethical IMO because it gives their competitor an edge by knowing who you are. People shouldn't pay for web development and/or SEO just to give the next guy a simpler path to the same if not better solution. Not to mention you easily expose your entire network of clients with these footers.

If you're doing something slightly shady SEO-wise and your competitors (or Google) know it then exposing your name on your clients site could put them ALL at risk. Imagine something you've done is deemed bad and not just one client but ALL clients get penalized in one shot simply because of those glorious footer links.

Now imagine the letters from all those lawyers...

Worse case, if you aren't as good as you think you are in web development or SEO, you've just given the competition a nice big client list to cherry pick.

Bad idea, bad risks, bad business.

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