Until recently, footer links on websites were an element that was supposed to perform certain beneficial optimization functions. For the most part, this is a truthful claim, as they helped speed up indexing while giving confused viewers an additional way to navigate a website. With the recent release of Google’s Penguin 2.0 search algorithm update, that seems to have changed quite significantly. Due to Penguin 2.0’s stricter rules on determining link value both within a page as well as in and out of a page, many have found footers to cause more problems than increasing optimization. To regain its usefulness, it is important that content in this area be reassessed.
Are footer links for users or search engines?
This is a good question to answer before deciding which connections should stay and which should go. Are footer links really there for viewers to use, designed to be presentable to site users based on the amount of information on the pages, a handy tool for clicking on a main page without scrolling ?
If this is not the case and footer links are only used to showcase more keywords, these connectors should go away as they are probably no longer helping and likely hurting SEO efforts. Since the ideal layout has the most important content at or above the fold, having keywords or other information lower on the page offers little real value. Google now knows this too – and interprets it as unnecessary.
Penguin 2.0 and new rules
In Google’s ongoing efforts to reduce the number of spam and low-quality websites that manage to circumvent the rules and are rewarded while honest pages do not, Penguin 2.0 has taken a much stricter view of allowed links. . Search algorithms are most sensitive to keyword-stuffed hyperlinks, excessive amounts of connectors on and off pages, and those placed on a landing or infomercial page that leads to a content page.
Since this process is done by computer based on what spiders see on websites, there will always be a chance of error. The solution for websites experiencing reduced page optimization and ranking due to this issue is to re-evaluate all page connections and determine quality and relevance. When a footer is used for anything other than providing a way to connect to a few main navigation pages, a website can very easily end up with spammers. Although such use of the footer may have been practicable before, the footer keyword, advertisement and other unnecessary links will reduce the quality of the whole website.
Proper use of footer links
This tightening of Google’s belt when it comes to the use of links actually helps web designers in a way, in that it greatly simplifies the use of footer space. Since keywords, advertisements, and anything other than the main navigation menu at the top should no longer be used there, the only possible uses left are for the main navigation links. As long as footer links are worded the same as navigation at the top or side of the page, they can be safely placed in that area and recognized as such.
Overall, while this is just one more thing that needs to be changed after another algorithm update, it’s important to remember that the purpose of all these changes is to offer significant long-term benefits. It ensures that the ranking quality of all pages is high, which makes the competition for all the coveted high rankings much more even across the board!