For a time people were all really scared of site wide links, but it turns out, it’s not as damaging as the rumors. However, the usage of this tactic is still pretty ungainly and we do not recommend it.
Just What Are Site Wide Links?
This is when a certain link appears in each and every page of a website. Of course in the past, SEOs wanted to get as many links as possible. So whenever possible, a link is placed on every page of any site one owns or could hijack.
This is, of course, a black hat technique, which is no longer recommended and no longer has a positive effect on a webpage’s SEO. Google’s Penguin update targeted many sites that used this spammy method. Hummingbird hammered in the final nail to the coffin. It does not matter anymore if there are a hundred links from one website leading to another, Google will only count these as single link.
Remove All Site Wide Linking?
Despite the fact that this is not very good for a site’s SEO, there are situations when site wide links happen without any intent for SEO. For example, you might have a legal obligation to properly cite a page due to copyright laws. Google understand that things like this happen in real life. So the best practice is to let it happen if and when the situation calls for it. Most likely, your site will not get a penalty if it is clearly a necessary thing. However, Google can spot if it is done without relevance to the content or if it is done purely for marketing reasons.
Be warned of course that if site wide links happen naturally, you should still try to lessen them. Do no over use this link structure. Basically, you should only allow site wide links if you absolutely cannot avoid doing so.
No Follow For Site Wide Links
There is some debate regarding this issue. There are SEOs who feel that adding no follow to your site wide links might be enough to make it less spammy. However, some SEO camps believe that this is not enough to make it a safe tactic. As with most things in SEO, we can never know the answer to this one for sure. The no follow is not always a great way to avoid penalty, especially if your goal is to get traffic without getting the juice. What we recommend is that if the no follow site wide links looks abnormal, remove them. On the other hand, if they appear in the footer of your site, it would look organic to use no follow on them.
Always remember that everything in good SEO can be gauged with the following principle: do not be spammy. It’s simple. If you are doing something purely for SEO or marketing purposes without any goal to give value to your audience, then you are probably being spammy. Sometimes, all you really need to do is give value. So if your link strategy is obviously trying to manipulate Google’s system, then be prepared to receive penalties.