It is quite common for web designers to include “Designed by XYZ” with a link back to their web design website for any website they design. But while some designers have ceased the practice of including footer links in websites, it seems like sometimes there’s a blind eye turned to any web designers that are including legitimate links back to the web design company from the footer of all the webpages the design.
Websites with spammy footer links became really bad a couple of years ago when many web designers started putting up free web design templates, but then would obfuscate code in the footer of the webpages that would include links to things like poker or online pharmaceuticals, and many novice webmasters were tricked into using them. But because of the prevalence of spam some web designers stopped including the footer links on the site they designed, and instead would sometimes include it as a comment in the code. But many non-spam footer links seem to be working just fine without any SEO repercussions.
The question came up in the Google webmaster hangout today and John Mueller recommends that any webmaster deciding to include a “designed by” link in the footer uses no follow if they want to include their link.
I get that this looks at things in regards to unnatural links for example and from our point of view these kinds of links by default are things where the webmaster doesn’t really place the links explicitly on those sites. So I’d recommend if you want to put your footer link there, make sure has a no follow on it, so that this is something that people can click on if they’re interested, but it’s seen as something that is not an editorial link by the webmaster, it’s not something you that have to worry about later on thinking “oh my God I put all these links on these websites and now Google will think of building an unnatural link or something crazy.”
So this is something where putting a no follow there is definitely good practice, you don’t need to not put these links benefit things he makes sense, but it’s something you decide on together with the people who are running this website in the end, then that’s something certainly you might want to do. But I would definitely put a no follow on those links.
Bottom line, if you thought you were safe to include footer links to your web design company on all the sites you design, you probably want to start adding a no follow into those links.
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