Should web designers add a link in client’s footers?


I’ve noticed some web designers add a link to their client’s footers to try to gain some SEO traffic and potentially more referrals. After thinking about this for a while, I decided to do some research on the subject. Here is a brief summary of what I’ve found:

  • It’s a 50/50 split between those who are in favor of “designed by” links from an ethical standpoint.
  • If you add a link, it MUST be tagged with a noFollow attribution. With recent updates to their algorithms, Google now views footer links for SEO-generating purposes as spam. Adding a noFollow essentially tells Google to ignore the link from an SEO standpoint. This lets the link pass their spam filters, but does nothing for your SEO.
  • WordPress themes complicate this to some degree. I don’t understand fully how this works, but attribution links for distributed themes could actually damage your SEO.
  • If you want genuine SEO traffic, your clients would need to dedicate a page or a blog post talking about you; then link to your site.

Bottom line: having a footer link is probably not the way to go from an SEO standpoint. It could lead to some business if someone genuinely loves a client’s site and clicks over to yours to ask you to make one for them. Gaining no SEO benefits from these links is a deal breaker for me, and not worth the potential negative connotations that surround it.

What are your thoughts?