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Bulk footer links from clients

How come they don't lead to penalties?

9:36 pm on Jul 30, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I was looking at a friend's backlink profile. He's a coder and most of his clients are linking back to his site via the dreaded footer links. You know, the kind of "website made by X". One particular site has 100,000 pages, so Search Console reports 100,000 links from this domain.

The thing I can't get my head around is that he's never received a manual penalty nor been affected by Penguin.

It got me curious and I made a list of another dozen of sites like his and run them through two leading "historical search visibility" tools. The majority of them had no evidence of ever been affected by penalties. Only two sites looked like they've been slapped in the past.

My main issue with these links is relevance. It must be clear to Google that the site owner who placed 100,000 links to this guy's site is in a completely different industry/topic.

I also noticed that the sites I analysed had unremarkable organic rankings. So, clearly the footer links haven't helped them either. What I find mind-boggling, though, is that Google hasn't penalised them.

What is your view on this?

I'm trying to make a case for this chap to have those links "nofollowed" but at the moment his argument of "Google thinks it's ok" is too solid :)
9:55 pm on July 30, 2016 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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What would be the point of banning the site for spamming when your friend is not spamming? Anyone who claims to have been banned for footer links is guilty of far more than just those footer links.

It doesn't rank. That should be enough.

If you want a more detailed answer then we'd have to discuss how the intent to spam is calculated. IMO your friends site doesn't have enough connections to dirt to qualify as dirty.