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Run of site linking – when links go bad
Adam Provis, May 13, 2011
As many of you are aware, inbound links to your website are the key to success in the search engines. However, all links are certainly not created equal and I will make a number of posts around this topic over the next few days.
Today I want to discuss run of site links. These are identical links to a site from every page on another site. You will often see these at the bottom of webpages as part of the footer such as “Designed by John Doe”, “Hosted by Acme hosting” or “Powered by Acme“. They are almost certainly put in there by the designer, hosting company or CMS provider in the hope that this pushes their site up the rankings by increasing the number of inbound links to their website.
The problem with this is that Google does not like run of site links to external. Google started downgrading these links a few years ago when buying links was becoming popular and often links such as these would be at the bottom of every page from the site selling the links. Its algorithms also recognise that a link with the same anchor text to the same external page is not nearly as genuine as links in the text body in context. While it may benefit the designer/hosting company/ software company a little it will not be nearly as valuable as it used to be.
So if you have this opportunity, should you only put one link on the home page? Doing this will only pass valuable ‘link juice’ from the home page and will mean that interested people will not see the link on a different page. In addition, the subject matter of the page that is linking sets the context for the link and so, unless the link for a web designer is on the home page for another web designer (how likely is that?), the link does not have good context.
On this website we have decided to have a link on every page to an “About this site” page. This creates a powerful page (as it is linked from every other page) and sets the context as the links and the title of the about page mention design and hosting. From this page we link to the designer, the hosting company and any other external site that has played their part in helping the site. This creates a good page in context for the links and a genuinely useful resource for anyone that is interested in how the site was put together.
If a designer’s clients are willing to have a link to them on every page then I think that most of them would not object to a page like this which actually helps its visitors and its service providers.
Take a look at the bottom of this page and click the link: Web hosting, design and tools on this site
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