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I know that I may just have to link the image to make this happen, but I figured it was worth asking, just in case there's some other semantic markup or tips I could use...

I have a site that uses the textual Creative Commons blurb in the footer. The markup is like so:

<div class="footer">
    <!-- snip --> 
    <!-- Creative Commons License -->
    <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/"><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width:0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/80x15.png" /></a><br />This work by <a xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" href="http://www.xmemphisx.com/" property="cc:attributionName" rel="cc:attributionURL">xMEMPHISx.com</a> is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/">Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License</a>.
    <!-- /Creative Commons License -->
</div>

Within Google Webmaster Tools, the list of relevant keywords is heavily saturated with the text from that blurb. For instance, 50% of my top-ten most relevant keywords (including the site name):

  1. [site name]
  2. license
  3. [keyword]
  4. commons
  5. creative
  6. [keyword]
  7. alike
  8. [keyword]
  9. attribution
  10. [keyword]

I have not done any extensive testing to find out rather or not this list even matters, and so far this doesn't impact performance in any way. The site is well designed for humans, and it is as findable as it needs to be at the moment.

But, out of mostly curiosity: Do you have any tips for decreasing the relevancy of the text from the Creative Commons footer blurb?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Being this is probably in the footer of every page it's natural that it would appear so high in that list.

Still, your goal shouldn't be to decrease the relevancy of those terms. It should be to increase the relevancy of the other terms on your pages. If the creative commons content is that relevant then you probably need to do a better job of making the actual content on your pages seem relevant to Google.

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I think you're absolutely right, although it's going to be interesting figuring that out. In my extremely specific case, the content of each page is pretty light (a few paragraphs, a couple headers, some microformats info). That probably explains the root of the issue, having an ever-present footer. –  anonymous coward Feb 23 '11 at 20:49
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Serve up your Creative Commons boilerplate from an ad server. OpenX is a good choice.

You could also put the CC footer into a JS file (and if you want to push it, block bots from retrieving the JS). Personally, I wouldn't recommend that.

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I think John Conde has the right approach. Maybe you need to work on bulking up the content of your site (it's just bad practice to have a bunch of pages with very little on them—though I can empathize with that situation).

I would also take the preemptive step to use HTML5's semantic layout tags (header and footer). Google isn't taking these into account yet, but they probably will in the future. From a search engine's perspective it doesn't make sense to rank header/footer content as high as body text.

Also, are you using proper heading tags? Are you giving your image content alt attributes? Are you using descriptive link text?

Beyond that, it's just about increasing the actual amount of (quality) content on your site. Put your energy into delivering value to your users, and many of these SEO issues will take care of themselves. Using JeremyB's suggestions might be a good stopgap, but ultimately you'll want the CC line to be indexed and searchable as well.

Edit:
This is unrelated to your question, but Id also point out that unless you have multiple footers on each page, you should probably use footer as the element's id instead of as a classname.

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Using html5boilerplate as a base, and have the new tags in place for navigation, footer, etc. The footer here is within a <footer> element. I also agree about the class-vs-id, and that's on the to-do list. Thanks for your answer! –  anonymous coward Feb 24 '11 at 14:30
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