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I know that search engines index the content between noscript tags, but I was wondering if it is an acceptable method (as far as Google etc are concerned) to include a backlink to your website inside a noscript tag on another website?

For example, I design a website for the customer but I don't want to broadcast who designed it to the general public (sometimes it cheapens the design in my opinion). Could I include the link inside a noscript tag which had some nice, relevant anchor text linking back to my site.

Win win?

I found this link http://www.seomoz.org/qa/view/15690/use-of-noscript-for-backlinks in Google but I just wanted some more opinions, please.

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2 Answers 2

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If you're doing this to serve only to search engines then this is essentially just another form of cloaking and is a violation of the search engines' terms of service and would result in your site being removed from their indexes.

You should only be using <noscript> to offer alternate content to users who do not support JavaScript. So if you have some JavaScript that you want to place on your customers' sites, and it contains a link back to you, then you can use <noscript> as an alternative for users who do not support JavaScript.

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Thanks, it's useful to know that this would be deemed as a form of cloaking. –  BeesonBison Dec 23 '11 at 17:37

I don't see how this is a 'win-win'. You say it cheapens the design if it includes a link to the designer, but then you're including a link anyway and just putting it inside of a noscript tag.

How does the client win by you secretly displaying a self-promotional ad to users with JavaScript disabled? How does the search user or search engine win by you gaming the system by putting invisible backlinks to yourself on client websites?

The only difference between inserting a backlink in a noscript tag and hiding backlinks using CSS is that with noscript it'll actually be seen by a small percentage of users. In both cases, you're basically spamdexing, which is no better than keyword stuffing.

Compare that with unsurreptitiously putting a tasteful credit to yourself (preferably with an appropriate nofollow since this isn't an organically generated external backlink) in the footer, where the client has agreed to this and knows exactly how it will look to their end users. It's not deceptive to the client or search engines, and since you know everyone will see it, you'll take more care to make it look nice.

If you want your self-link to be less prominently displayed, then give it a more demure/toned down look that blends in with the design. Maybe make it smaller, or leave out any text and just put a faint silhouette of your logo in the corner. Alternatively, you could ask the client to include you on a links/partners page if they have one, or just give you a shoutout on their blog or twitter.

But use noscript for what it was designed for—to display alternate content to users who can't process JS.

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I love replies like this. Of course consent would be sought from the customer... It would just be described as a link to your site that only a small percentage of people would see along with the search engines. That's what makes it win-win - yes you would see it in the source and for users with JS disabled, but then it's not plastering your brand all over someone else's website (no matter how subtly) and not obviously advertising your services to the vast majority of users. Personally I would rather a testimonial on my site but then that does not carry the same SEO weight as a backlink does. –  BeesonBison Dec 23 '11 at 17:46
    
I take your point about using noscript properly though - I'm just not a big fan of attribution in that way. However, backlinks are an important factor and I was thinking of ways around the issue. –  BeesonBison Dec 23 '11 at 17:50
    
That's like saying, if you only display it to 1% of users, annoying popups are a win-win. Or because animated banners are tacky, we'll just display it to 5 users each month! The whole point of advertising is to reach as many people as you can. If you're intentionally reducing your audience, then it's self-defeating. And if a marketing channel is unprofessional, then showing it to a smaller percentage of your users is still bad. To the users who have JavaScript disabled, they're still going to see the link. They won't care that they're only a small percentage of the total users. –  Lèse majesté Dec 23 '11 at 18:35
    
My point was not really about advertising, it's about the SEO benefit of having a backlink that does not have an impact on the overall look and feel of a website. My original question was of a technical nature... not about how an end-user would perceive it. The accepted answer approached the response from a technical perspective. I'm not saying it's right or wrong to have a link on the site - it's my preference not to, but I would like to 'have my cake and eat it' and still retain a backlink too. And it's nothing like a popup or banner ad so I'm not sure what you're getting at. –  BeesonBison Dec 23 '11 at 18:53
    
I don't have a problem with designers linking to themselves in the footer of their designs. I'm just going by your premise that this practice cheapens the design . So if it does, then why would you choose to do it anyway? If you only want to game the PageRank system rather than use the self-link as legitimate advertising, then why would you do it in a way that still harms the UX for some users? –  Lèse majesté Dec 23 '11 at 18:59

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