Let me preface this by saying, I do not have any moral or ethical issues with the “SEO Tramp Stamp”.
Just to clarify, I am referring to the link the many SEO’s place in the footer of their client’s site, which links back to their company’s site.
These links are acceptable because 1) they allow a visitor to a site, who likes the site, to find out who is responsible for the site being the way it is, and 2) as long as the SEO gets permission from the client to insert the link, explaining clearly why that link is being placed there, there is no intentional exploitation or manipulation happening. Full disclosure; I link to my company’s site from the footer of our client’s websites.
All that being said, if you also link to your site from the footer of your client’s sites, DON’T USE SPAMMY ANCHOR TEXT. I say this for 2 reasons; the first is that it is ineffective. If your site is properly optimized for the keyword phrases you are targeting, you do not need to utilize keyword-rich spammy anchor text. Google will be able to tell what your site is about and index it accordingly. The value of these links is in the trust factor they display and the passing of domain authority. Second, it makes your client look bad, and it does nothing for establishing your brand. Below back-up these 2 statements with some details.
Spammy Anchor Text is Ineffective in Footer Links
**I personally think that anchor text as a ranking factor is the father of most link SPAM. I realize that it is still a ranking factor, but it seems that it has be devalued since Penguin, which I am a fan of.
Shortly after Penguin, I began changing all of the anchor text in our client footer links from “Denver SEO” to my company’s name, “Ethical SEO Consulting”. On April 30th, 2012 (about 6 days after penguin), we held the number 8 ranking for “Denver SEO”. Since then I have removed this spammy anchor text from most of my client’s footer links. As of today (June 27th, 2012) we are ranked #6 for “Denver SEO”.
So, rather than having any negative ranking effect, removing the Spammy anchor text from these links actually caused a moderate ranking increase.
It Looks Bad on your Client’s Site and It’s Bad for your Branding
Just a bit of common sense here; does this look natural, appealing, useful, not manipulative?:
This spammy anchor text makes your client’s site look worse. Reason enough to remove it.
If you need further reason, anyone who actually sees this link will have absolutely no idea what company is behind it. They will tell their friends, coworkers, family, or anyone else, “Hey I found this awesome site today. It was powered by Denver SEO.”
Wouldn’t you rather them say, “Hey, I was on this awesome site today. The SEO and Design work was done by Ethical SEO Consulting, a company right here in Denver. Their link didn’t look spammy so I clicked on it to learn more about them. They are super awesome!” This conversation is much better for brand awareness! Here is what most of our footer links now look like now:
Whether you agree with me, disagree or think I’m a moron, please leave a comment below to tell me about it.
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