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I read somewhere that web designers' habit of placing a default "follow" link in the footer of their client websites is bad for SEO.

Is this true?

If so, should we use rel="nofollow" instead.

I have seen rel="designer" in some free WordPress themes.

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Unless your niche is about web designing which I doubt then in today's climate you should not be linking back to non-relevant sites. If your site is about Cars then only link out to sites about cars since this will help your authority - it will also help your website designer since he should be seeking links from sites within his/her niche too. Days of any old links are over relevancy is everything. – Simon Hayter Jul 1 '13 at 8:23
up vote 2 down vote accepted

What I tend to do is write a conditional (or do do it by hand if it's a static HTML site) so that on the home page it says:

<a href="http://mysite.com">My site</a>

but on all other pages it says:

<a href="http://mysite.com" rel="nofollow">My site</a>

That way you get the benefit of the link juice from the home page (which is usually the strongest page) which isn't then eroded by having a site-wide link.

Alternatively you could make the link live on the home page only, and on all other pages have it writen in static text: <p>Site by me</p> without a link.

As for the rel="designer", I haven't come across that before.

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+1 Good answer. I think rel="designer"originates back to this network, which seems dormant now. It's really of no benefit. – dan Aug 31 '13 at 7:25

It is bad in context of Goolge's fighting with spam through "Penguin". This "Penguin" punishs for "site-wide" links.

My piece of advice for you is to use rel="nofollow". It will prevent you from any filter actions but leave your link available for users.

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