Most such links are placed by the seo / designer, rather than a grateful customer.
In most cases they are non-related links, and their purpose is either referrals from impressed visitors, or 'link power'.
If the former, then nofollow might be the best way to go; self-promoting SEOs probably have enough problems without sticking paper targets over their hearts. ;)
What about the association question, think it's now safe for clients to show one?
It's an ad; and a non-ralated link.
Best way for all concerned is nofollow - or no link. I suspect it puts off potential customers. "Oh, he thinks he's going to plaster HIS name on MY site, does he?"
Your mileage may vay :)
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.
In their piece on SEO G states a client should never "have to" link to an SEO.
"Have to" suggests some coercion, but that's hardly necessary is it?
With most clients now aware of the benefits of links the offer of some "mutually beneficial" linkage might well be welcomed.
But unless clients are made aware of the risks involved in linking to an SEO, it could be argued that accepting them is for an SEO an ethically questionable practice.
This discussion has been going on for ages - about web design sites. Linking back to the web designer is traditional and goes as far back as people have been designing websites for people. Google knows it, too. And a link to the person who designed the site is most certainly a valid vote, nofollow would be a LIE - and is so standard it's usually only questioned in corporate environments and even then, sometimes it's fine.
SEO is a different story. I've had links back for SEO - voluntarily and gladly given, as a matter of fact, more than once - and it didn't hurt one iota. I wouldn't do it again in a competitive market because I think it's a magnet for competitors of the client to start swiping off the site. Maybe in an obscure visible place (meaning not hidden) I would as a credit (with the client's agreement) but not right out there where it's very plain for competitors of the client to see right off.
I see nothing wrong with "consulting services" in the anchor text back. That's what it is, really, but isn't as in-yer-face obvious what it's for.
As a client two things would bother me, the 'hostage to fortune" and the "perceived intent" issues.
If I link to an SEO I can be vulnerable if they "go bad", are bad or are simply incompetent, equally if down the road I happen to accidentally pass some guideline tipping point those SEO links may help decide it was no accident.
I suspect not many clients fully au fait with the situation would link to their SEO/SEM....
When I first started I used a template with a built in link to the vendor. I then used a designer to tickle it up and he put a link in to his design firm together with a second link to his hosting company ('powered by' crap) with whom I hosted. I put a 'free' counter on and guess what? I started reading here and deleted the lot PDQ. Good job I never used an SEO firm eh?
[edited by: JudgeJeffries at 10:09 am (utc) on May 8, 2007]
Once the website design or SEO'ing is complete, the client owns the site... (hopefully this is detailed in some sort of contract between SEO and client).
The client can easily employ NOFOLLOW or have the SEO links completely removed. It's not like many construction workers who often leave a "Johnny was here" remark scribbled in a hidden place underneath sheetrock.
The SEO link is visible, the link is live and it is meant to drive attention to the SEO or his/her business.
>>the client owns the site
And therefore cheapens their brand (and the SEO's IMO) and exposes their hand to competitors. Plus making folks dig to find out whodunit is good marketing. I've never seen an a-list site (CNN) with even the text "web design by...".
I did fantasize about doing it to a .gov once...
My personal opinion is that we should remain anonymous. It is the safest long term solution for all involved.
If someone is "really" interested in the design (or anything else) of the site they are looking at, they will most likely contact the owner of the site for a referral. This of course is the best way to obtain new business, by word of mouth. ;)
I've never been real fond of advertising my services on client sites, that's just not me. Its their site, not mine. I may manage it for them but I remain anonymous to those outside the organization.
I've seen some really creative uses of footer links for SEOs and the like. Some have managed to get 2, 3, and sometimes 4 links in there with various anchor text. Tacky, very tacky!
|Client links to SEO - Yay or Nay? |
Now, that is not to say there are not "more creative" ways of gaining exposure from client sites. Partner pages are way more powerful than sitewide footer links. ;)
Did a quick survey of the players in my neck of the woods and just about everyone has links from client sites.
Granted most are "hybrids" where SEO is only part of their services, but it still came as a bit of a surprise...
I also feel that linking backs from clients to SEO consultants has a bit of a smell to it - but I also agree that welcome links, freely given - hopefully with a nice recommendation attached - are worth their weight.
But it's the smelly bit that bothers me. Most (not all, but most) SEOs that really do well on the big keywords in the sector are doing exactly this. Now - that's OK in love and war - but where it smells to me is when an SEO company goes to a potential client and says "we are at the top of the listings, so you can be sure we know how to do this for you as well". This is where it smells. They can't replicate the same strategy for their clients.
Going in to see a client with this pitch is quite a strong one, I might add, in that this often gets you into the last three at least, but the client doesn't know the strategy behind the claim is... smelly.
*As a client two things would bother me, the 'hostage to fortune" and the "perceived intent" issues.*
Following my argument to it's logical conclusion, on an SEO related site I've decided to stop requesting and to in fact actively discourage links from "civilians".
Can't see it becoming a trend though....
How about sites that you design and run that belong to you, yourself? Do you not link to those and then, possibly, in turn, not link back? What are your thoughts on that?
|How about sites that you design and run that belong to you, yourself? Do you not link to those and then, possibly, in turn, not link back? What are your thoughts on that? |
Regardless of ownership... this is just doubling the number of unnecessary bullseyes.
With the same ownership, this increases vulnerability even more, I feel, because this universal cross-linking can quickly start looking like a mini spam network. Depends to some extent on the number of other inbounds.
If you are going to crosslink your own sites, I'd keep that linking to a minimum... and I'd let helpfulness to the user be my guide. In some cases, that's only subtly different from self-promotion, but it is different.
*Do you not link to those and then, possibly, in turn, not link back?*
Up to recently that SEO site was pretty much "quarantined" from the rest, I've put a link on it to a new site, but it's roughly within the promotion industry so can't be deemed "civilian", no links back though.
|Do you not link to those and then, possibly, in turn, not link back? |
Whoops... didn't see that important word. Well, disregard the twice as many bullseyes part... but still think of them as bullseyes.
My own inclination is not to link. I ask designers or developers I work with not to link in either direction. I wouldn't object to, say, one portfolio link to a site they've designed for me, but when it gets to be more than one site, I consider that a potential problem that I'd rather not have to think about.
If these are simply feeder links to get sites started, I'd do it another way.
I have not placed "SEO by" links on client sites, so I took the risk of not getting additional links these past 5 years, but I now feel better about the decision.
There is a difference between a linked "SEO by" and an unlinked one. Just naming the SEO or designer on some back page should suffice and has its analogy with naming the architects in a corner of a plaque of a large building. Just a name is different from adding their address and driving instructions, which is like a web link.
If the SEO or web design company is small and needs the exposure, the ad will be linked. This is wonderful for competing SEOs who can find all the clients of that SEO and pitch to them if the site isn't doing well.