Footer

A footer is a line or block of text appearing at the bottom of a page or document separate from the main text. Footers include notes on the page title, or navigation within the document. On websites, footers are also a special area which is separated from the main body and header. They usually contain information on the copyright and the date on which the site was created. Footer links are often placed there too, but their usefulness is controversial.

Background

A website is primarily divided into three main areas, the header, the body, and the footer. While the header section is usually filled with eye-catching graphics, or navigation, the body contains the content. There is usually not a lot of room for the footer, so that only information on the website creator gets placed in it. Over the years, it has also become customary that web designers or marketing agencies who created the page enter a link to their own website in the footer.

And this is exactly where footers became interesting for SEOs. Since the home page of a website most commonly is the strongest and passes on the most link juice (up until the Panda update was rolled out), a lot of webmasters set a number of backlinks in the footer to benefit from the greatest possible link power provided by the link-giving website. The result was that many genuine link exchange projects were blessed with a high page rank and link power, but had only meager content. Footer links were considered the “secret weapon” for SEOs for a long time. Google and other search engines reacted quickly. The excessive use of Footer links (“widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites”) is clearly identified as manipulation of the SERP in the Google Webmaster Guidelines.[1]

Possible functions

Due to the generally limited space in the footer area, this element of a website usually has little functionality. With regard to usability, footers can usually be neglected because visitors have to scroll down to get all the way to the bottom of the page. Otherwise, the footer is where page navigation of spiders gets controlled. When the bots crawl the site, they can immediately get deeply into the website using Footer “deep links.” They therefore consume less crawl resources.

The possible features of footers are listed here again:

  • Sensible distribution of link power through incoming internal links
  • Indication of the website owner
  • Indication of the year in order to show that the page is up to date
  • Information for contacts or terms and conditions

Benefits for search engine optimization

The benefits of footers for SEO has been a known fact for a long time. Footer links improved ranking. Nowadays, footer links are barely used for external linking. Exceptions could be if footer links are not used throughout the entire website, but only one such footer link is inserted at the home page as a “credit” for the web design agency. The link text should only contain the brand name and no link keywords.

However, webmasters should always be careful when linking externally from a footer. Footers can still be used for internal linking to distribute link juice from the home page specifically to subpages. However, webmasters need to be aware of the fact that this method of internal linking does not contribute to usability, but are merely optimization measures for bots. Once the crawl techniques are more advanced, it is questionable whether this kind of internal linking is still necessary.

References

  1. Link Schemes support.google.com Accessed on 04/21/2014

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