Are run of site links a good or bad search engine optimization technique ?
Run of site links and linking is still around big time and there are still many convinced benefits outrank the damage such an approach may have w.r.t. organic placement and online visibility in the search engines.
If you’re new to this, run of site links are placed in the page footer or sidebar and repeat themselves on each and every page of that website. If you have a link to your website placed on a footer you’ll have tens, hundreds of even thousands of backlinks pointing to you.
Are run of site links good or bad ?
Let me tell you my real life story about run of site links that I’ve been sitting on for about 1 month now – just to be sure of what I am saying – there is already enough noise out there on the web – I don’t want to waste your time 😉
The story I’m about to tell you is related to a website in the travel industry. I started following it last year with some preliminary work but nothing special really, search engine consulting work on the architecture, and a bit of on site optimization, and link building.
This was the situation as of June last year – a bit of on site fixing up and some (quality) linking made the difference …
There was a significant increase in traffic and all coming from search engines and organic placement.
Work progressed and I was satisfied with the results obtained: there was more traffic which in turn was bringing business (for the first time ever).
But then something went wrong.
The following months traffic began to decrease, despite our continued efforts (both on-site and off-site). I didn’t jump to any conclusions at first and just continued working, there can be a number of reasons for a down turn in organic traffic that are not directly related to what is being done and it’s just not the case to get paranoid about traffic fluctuations. But after 3 months things were still flat and gray – traffic levels were dwarfed, reaming at significantly lower levels than experienced during the past months so … it was time to see what was happening.
It didn’t take all that long. I discovered a run of site link pointing to us.
I called my Client to advise of this link and find out more about it. He told me it was a favor they were doing us – in their view this link was an important contribution to our organic placement strategy. I suggested they remove the link immediately …
The link wasn’t removed – the person who placed it said it was important and recommended they keep the link in place.
I’ll make a long story short and come to the conclusion you are interested in: I did get them to remove the run of site link … but it took a number of months before it was actually removed … 6 months.
So there you are – a clear picture and the history of events:
- A steady increase in traffic derived from organic placement deriving from search engine optimization
- The inclusion of a run of site link
- The sudden drop in incoming traffic
What happened after the run of site link was removed ? Take a look …
Self explanatory isn’t it ? I used the weekly breakdown to give you a better view on the traffic levels and how there is a very tight pattern between the run of site link introduction and removal.
There are the facts:
- A run of site link was introduced
- There was a significant and persistent drop in organic traffic from search engines (in particular Google)
- The run of site link was removed
- There was a significant increment in traffic derived from organic placement
During this time frame there were no other significant contributions to website visibility that would have contributed to search engine placement.
So what’s the bottom line ?
Let’s take a closer look at what happened in this specific case. When the run of site link was introduced, there were very few incoming links. There was a sudden (and significant) increase of incoming links all from the same website – from about 150 to nearly 6,000 raising a flag and the webisite was penalized. The penalty disappeared along with the link and traffic is now going back to previous growth rates and levels.
In my view you need to keep clear from this type of link – all search engines react negatively to such an impulsive increment of back links and you’ll pay for it (=less traffic). I believe there is a difference in having such links in the footer right from the start and having one embedded later on: If you are a webmaster and have a credits type of link in the footer of your websites I don’t believe this will harm you. In fact the search engines will see the number of links grow at a natural rate. In all other cases be very careful …
Other resources related to linking and run of site links:
- Do Run Of Site Links Work? – Search Engine Watch Forums (old info from 2004)
- Do Run Of Site Links Work? – Page 2 – Search Engine Watch Forums (old info from 2004)
- Run of site links. good idea or bad ?
- Run of Site Links – if indexed, do they "count" ?
- Run of Site Links – Delete or Keep ?
- Searchonomics: Serious & Fun Stats
- Purchasing Links
- Link Development
- The Paid Links Debate Rages On – SES San Jose 2007
- Link Building Campaigns and Strategies