This morning I was reading over a post from SEOmoz about Internal Linking using SEO Footers. Just in case you aren’t sure what I mean when I say “SEO Footer” let me give you an example.
This method is something we have used before and found success with. This method is used to help rank for specific keywords and generate new traffic to the site.
However, the post by John Dougherty suggest that these might not be helping sites anymore and potentially be hurting them. He claims that he noticed a few sites (that use this method) drop in traffic after recent Penguin updates. So this got me thinking, could this be happening to any of the sites we’ve done this for as well?
So I started to look at traffic for a couple sites we’ve done this for, specifically noting times when penguin updates hit. (Here is an example of a smaller site.)
As you can see from the above example traffic after the penguin update didn’t appear to be affected. The blue line represents this year whereas the orange is last year. Looking at both lines we can see there is a slight trend happening in both years. So for this particular site I would say having the SEO footer hasn’t hurt us at all and might actually be helping us.
Here’s another example: (This example is for a much larger site with hundreds of pages)
My first thoughts when I see this one are, this one possibly could have been affected from penguin. You can see traffic after the penguin update does decrease. When looking into it, I could see that Google organic traffic did drop 3.5%. However, traffic from other major mediums such as PPC and referral also dropped. Since I don’t want to focus on that one time alone and really need to look at the entire picture, I see that traffic did slightly recover a week later and then really increased a few weeks after that. So based off of the BIG picture, I think it’s safe to say if this one was affected by Penguin then it has completely recovered and then some.
So what’s my takeaway on the subject? Personally, I think you have to look at it on a case by case basis. To know if you were affected set your date range to cover a few months before Penguin (May 25th) to a few months after. Then compare this year to last year so you know if the trend is the same or different. Once you have the times set up look at the overall pictures. Are you seeing a drop in traffic after the update? If so then take a closer look at that specific time. Compare Traffic after May 25th to traffic before that time and see where your drops were. See if there was a decrease in traffic from Google Organic. Once you look at this year then do the same for last year to see if there was any decrease then. From there you can draw your own conclusions and decide if you were affected.
Moving forward, I don’t think any SEO should rule out using SEO Footers. Should at some point it seem like it’s not helping anymore, then remove it and try something different. Google is constantly changing their algorithms and we’re always having to adjust our methods in order to keep ranking well. So don’t get discouraged if you were hit because there were many other sites that were too. Instead, come up with some new ideas and give them a try.