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Are sitewide links a Google ranking factor?

Should you be concerned if you're on the receiving end of a site-wide link?Find out if your site's organic search ranking may be affected by it.

Inbound links are generally considered a positive factor for SEO and can cause problems if too many are from the same domain.

However, are there site-wide links to other domains – are they a negative ranking factor?

This is how some people think about SEO.

If you're on the receiving end of a site-wide link, is there reason to worry?

We'll answer these questions as we investigate theories about these potentially problematic links and their impact on SEO.

Disclaimer: Sitewide Links Are Ranking Factors

Site-wide links are static outbound links that appear on every page of a website.

They are usually placed in headers, footers or navigation menus.

Depending on the number of pages a site has, a site-wide link may create hundreds or thousands of outbound links to another site.

It is said that a disproportionate number of inbound links from the same domain is interpreted by Google as a sign of unnatural link building.

Additionally, the fact that site-wide links appear without context leads to claims that they are of little value.

For these reasons, SEO experts claim that site-wide links send negative ranking signals to the domains they point to.

The theory behind sitewide links as a negative ranking signal began with the seventh update to Google's Penguin algorithm, called Penguin 4.0.

This update makes Penguin a permanent part of Google's search algorithm, running in real time.

Prior to Penguin 4.0, spam links were downgraded and/or penalized on a per-update basis.

This means that sites can use spam/risky link building tactics until the next manual update rolls out.

After hearing these statements, you may be concerned about discovering site-wide links from other websites to your domain.

Yet another narrative suggests that site-wide links might be considered a good thing.

The theory behind this is simple, that more links deliver more link equity.

You could also argue that a site-wide link from a reputable website generates a stronger signal than one or two links on their own;It's as if the site is extending its top-level referrals to other domains.

But does it make sense?

Evidence of Site-Wide Linking as a Negative Ranking Factor

Google confirms that when site-wide linking occurs organically, it is not a negative ranking signal.

According to Google's John Mueller, site-wide links are not automatically interpreted as unnatural link patterns or spam attempts.

There's no reason to think they're bad for a site, he said:

“Generally, if these are normal links — organic links — that are happening, pointing to your content, then I’ll let them be.This is how the internet works.Users link to your content.

If your students have a blog and they think, 'Oh, this is actually a teacher who knows what he's talking about', then this is a great link.It's not something you need to deny, just because it could be a site-wide link or in a blog.

When site owners place site-wide links, Google recommends using the nofollow attribute to 100% avoid unnatural link signals.

Mueller State:

"...If you want to put your footer link there, make sure it has a nofollow link so people can click it if interested, but it's seen by webmasters as something that isn't an editorial link.

It's not something you have to worry about later and say, 'Oh my god.I put all these links on this site.Now Google will think I'm building an unnatural link pyramid or something crazy.

Sitewide Links as a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Site-wide links are obviously a possible ranking factor because ultimately, a link is a link.

We know that Google uses links as a ranking signal.

Site-wide links by themselves do not negatively impact search rankings.

There's no reason to deny site-wide links or request their removal, unless there is a condition.If you're working on a website that has site-wide links to that site, and its search rankings are struggling, it's probably not the link itself that's causing the problem.

It can be anchor text.

Over-optimized anchor text is more likely to cause problems for SEO than site-wide links.

For example, if the anchor text is something like "best SEO services in Toronto," the link may be flagged as spam.

When linking to other companies,The recommended best practice is to use the company name as anchor text.

Then it looks like a legitimate suggestion, not an attempt to manipulate search rankings.

Google understands that site-wide linking occurs naturally in some cases.

Extended reading:

Are Outbound Links a Google Search Ranking Factor?

Are Nofollow Links a Google Ranking Factor?

Are Paid Links a Google Ranking Factor?

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