When I'm making a clients site I always include a link <p>site by <a href="example.com" target="blank" rel="no follow"><strong>example</strong></a></p>

Is this bad practice from a SEO point of view, especially after the Google penguin update? Could this damage my clients site (the one hosting the link) and / or my site (the one that the link is pointing to).

Does making the link no follow get around the fact Google might deem the link to be a site wide spam link?

  • 2
    Note that rel="no follow" should be rel="nofollow" (no space), not sure if it works with a space. Commented May 13, 2012 at 1:52

3 Answers 3


A single link isn't going to make you look like a content farm, nofollowing the link is good practice, making the link a cross domain include is better as it leaves you in control, but it's really not something you need to worry about.

  • 1
    The disadvantage of a cross domain include is that it's going to delay the time to first byte (potentially doubling it) because the script execution is paused by the HTTP request. Additionally, as that SO question indicates, it's potentially very dangerous. It's simply not justifiable from the client's POV to introduce these downsides just so you can change their footer on a whim. Commented May 13, 2012 at 6:57

From what I just watched/read here http://wpmu.org/wordpress-penguin-google-matt-cutts/ where wpmu.org have been penalized due to a site / splog using one of their templates which had a back link to their site.

I dont know what effect will be for a white hat site with good content though with a footer backlink. I did read that a site with high, over 60% of a particular keyword baclink may be penalized too.

From what I also have read by adding a rel="nofollow" makes its neutral content for search engines.

I do have a design college who before panda had changed his footer links in his client websites to be more specific to a keyword ph which now he ranks well for eg "sydney web design" where before it was just "web design" and since panda his analytics have shown no effect from panda.


I don't think it would do your clients site any harm, but neither would it give you as much benefit as it used to post penguin.

  • to be honest the main purpose of it was to get referal traffic rather than link building
    – sam
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 10:27
  • Fair enough. Make the call based on your analytics data. If you were getting good refferals keep doing it =)
    – Sandy Lee
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 11:23

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