Q: I’ve noticed those little links at the bottom of websites that say “Website design by designersName.com”. I take it that those links are meant to improve search engine ranks?
Do you think this would be a better idea: Have the link at the bottom of the customer page point to an actual page on the customer’s site that is dedicated to you, the designer, and have a few hundred words of body text with relevant page titles, keywords, the whole sha-bang with links pointing to your site. What do you think of this? This would work a lot better than just the little link at the bottom of their page, wouldn’t it?
A: While we don’t have data, our guess is that the primary benefit of those links at the bottom of a client’s website is so that a visitor will say, “Oh, this is a cool site. Who built it?” and then follow the link to the designer’s site. Will this link provide search engine benefit? Yeah, a little bit, especially if you design lots of sites. But watch out: those sites aren’t going to be topically related to your website (how many of them are about web design?), so they aren’t going to deliver much search engine benefit.
Now, thinking about your Better Idea, where you get your own page on a client’s site. Sorry, we can’t give it the thumbs up, and here’s why:
Assuming you can get past the (probably substantial) obstacle of getting a client to agree to adding a whole page praising their web designer, we still don’t think that one page will be enough to make this seem like a truly relevant link in the eyes of the search engines. Google, for example, is not just looking at single pages to determine relevance, but rather the whole giant interconnected world of links and categories of information. Also, any human viewer (and Google has plenty of these on staff, too!) would be able to ascertain that this type of link is essentially a paid link. So our guess is that Google and the other search engines will think of the links coming from this type of page as having very little importance.
Also we’re a little worried about the potential for duplicate content. If you have a text-heavy page on someone else’s domain that contains very similar messaging to your own site, it won’t be good for your own search engine presence. Since it would function more like a landing page than an ad, we think it’d be best to keep that messaging – and the traffic that comes to read it – on your own website. After all, you’d hate to eventually find yourself competing with your own ads!
On the other hand, we suppose we can envision a scenario in which the tactic you suggest might be useful. Picture this: your client is a well established, authority site with great ranks, while your own website is having some sort of terrible problem (perhaps some previous spam has you in a rankings pit that you are working on climbing out of). If you aren’t visible at all in the search engines, you could approach your client as a sort of “host” for your one-page self-promotion. If you have a client who’s that nice, you’d better be prepared to send a nice holiday basket this year.
Thanks so much for the idea, and we encourage you to keep them coming! Experimentation is a valuable part of any SEO campaign.