Are Sitewide Links A Google Ranking Factor?

Internal links, which are usually considered a positive thing for SEO, may cause problems if a lot of them come from the same domain.

But are sitewide links to other domains a negative ranking factor?

This is what some people think of in search engine optimization.

Is there anything to worry about if you’re on the receiving end of sitewide links?

We’ll answer these questions as we investigate theories about these potentially problematic links and their impact on SEO.

Claim: Website links are a ranking factor

Sitewide linking refers to an outgoing static link that appears on every page of a website.

They are usually placed either in the header, footer, or navigation menu.

Depending on how many pages a website has, a single sitewide link can generate hundreds or thousands of outbound links to another site.

Having a disproportionate number of links coming from the same domain is said to be interpreted by Google as a sign of abnormal link generation.

Additionally, the fact that sitewide links appear without context has led to claims that they carry little or no value.

For these reasons, SEO experts claim that sitewide links send negative ranking signals to the domains they point to.

The theory behind sitewide links started as a negative ranking signal around the time of the seventh update to the Google Penguin algorithm, known as Penguin 4.0.

This update made Penguin a permanent component of the Google search algorithm, running in real time.

Prior to Penguin 4.0, spam was downgraded and/or penalized on a per-update basis.

This means that sites can get away with using spammy/risky link building methods until the next manual update is rolled out.

After hearing these claims, you may be concerned about spotting site-wide links pointing to your domain from other websites.

However, there is another claim that sitewide links can be seen as a positive thing.

The theory behind this, simply put, is that more links go through more link rights.

You could also argue that a sitewide link from a reputable website creates a stronger signal than one or two links alone; It is as if this website gives the highest level of recommendation to the other domain.

But is there any truth in this?

Evidence of sitewide links as a negative ranking factor

Google maintains that sitewide links, when they occur naturally, are not a negative ranking signal.

John Mueller from Google States Sitewide links are not automatically interpreted as an abnormal link pattern or an attempt to send spam.

There is no reason to believe that they depend on a site, he says:

“In general, if these are regular links — organic links — that happen to point to your content, I’ll allow them to. That’s how the Internet works. People link to your content.

If your students have blogs and they’re thinking, “Oh, that’s actually a teacher who knows what he’s talking about,” that’s a good link. This isn’t something you need to disavow just because it’s probably a sitewide link or in a blog listing.”

When site owners place a sitewide link, Google recommends using the nofollow attribute in order to 100% avoid unnatural link signals.

Mueller says:

“…if you want to put your footer link in there, make sure it has a nofollow link in there, so people can click on it if they’re interested, but it’s seen as something that isn’t an editorial link by the webmaster.

It’s not something you have to worry about later and say, “Oh, my God.” I put all these links on this site. Now Google will think I’m building an unnatural link pyramid or something crazy.”

Website links as a ranking factor: our judgment

Sitewide links are clearly a potential ranking factor because a link at the end is a link.

We know that Google uses links as a ranking signal.

Sitewide links do not have a negative impact on search rankings per se.

There is no reason to disavow links at the site level or to require their removal, except under one condition.

If you’re on a website that has a sitewide link pointing to it and its search rankings are suffering, it may not be the link itself that’s causing the problem.

Anchor text can be.

Overly optimized anchor text is more likely to cause an SEO problem than a sitewide link.

For example, if the anchor text is something like “Best SEO Services in Toronto,” the links might be flagged as spam.

When associating with another company, the recommended best practice is to use the company name as body text.

Then it looks like a legitimate recommendation, rather than an attempt to manipulate search ranking.

Google understands that there are cases where site-wide links occur organically.

Sitewide links do not automatically indicate an attempt to manipulate search results.

When it comes to sitewide links, Google requires the nofollow attribute to be used so that they are not seen as editorial links.

Featured Image: Paolo Bobita/Search Engine Magazine

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