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#1 Mike521

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 04:23 PM

Hey all, just want to get some input on this.

My company does website design as well as seo. On sites that we design, we normally put a "website designed by " link at the bottom.

Could this cause a problem with sites that we also host on our server? Our server all sites off the same IP address.

Obviously our client sites are much different than ours and there is no link farming or spam attempt going on, the link is there for interested parties to contact us easily.

However is there a possibility that engines see this and disregard the fact that all the client's sites are for real, and just think that we are spamming?

#2 DianeV

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 06:03 PM

I don't have any evidence that there is a *penalty*, per se, for this practice, which is a common one in the web design field.

My guess is that, if anything, Google may *discount* the number of incoming links. I base this on Google's statement (which unfortunately I can't locate right now) that they penalize for very little. Note that penalization is different than simply not giving weight to or credit for a specific element.

#3 compar

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 09:54 PM

We put a link on our company web site to every site we design, host or do SEO work for. Most of these sites are housed on the same server as our company website. I have noticed that our link to these sites is often one of the first backlinks Google reports.
Even though these sites are all on the same server we give each site it's own unique IP address. We also tend to put a credit link back to ourselves on all sites we design. Google recognizes the links in both direction and I have never seen any evidence of any penalty for this.

This is standard commercial practice to put credit lines on everything. I don't think Google is going to penalize anyone for standard practices like this.

#4 Mike521

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 12:22 PM

yea thats what I was thinking too, just figured I'd get some input to be sure. thanks :P


edit: main reason I was concerned was cause it occurred to me that some sort of autodetection in google might up and say "hey look a bunch of sites on the same IP address owned by same company all linking back to one site -- spam!"

#5 DianeV

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 03:26 PM

Mike, it just might. I am going on what has been said by a Google rep (again, I can't find the quote, though).

At the point where such links are no longer just ignored, but actually penalized, it would give us something to think about.

#6 Steve_Sardell

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 04:07 PM

The discussion of home page back links has been getting quite a bit of attention lately. Design firms, SEOs, etc. frequently want a link on the home page and even some on every page. I understand why they would want it, but do not see the necessity. For branding, a simple logo should suffice and then a link from the resource page. Of course the link from the design firm will jump start a web page PR. And, this is one of the power selling points. Is this a scheme? That is not for me to say. Will search engines look upon it as a scheme? Who knows?

As always just my opinion

#7 DianeV

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 04:23 PM

Yes, it does all that.

But let's look at it another way: assume for the sake of this discussion that there were no such thing as link popularity or PageRank; that is, no added boost in search engines for links pointing to a website.

In that case, the link(s) from the client's site serve the exact purpose for which many web design companies place it there in the first place: allowing visitors to the website to discover who designed it. Similarly, links to client sites in portfolios allow web design companies to display their work as it is (rather than as a smaller image of the site), and drives a bit of traffic to the client's site as well.

Of course, it's understood that search engines may not view it in this light. Such is life. At the point where such links were actually *penalized* rather than, say, discounted, I would have to consider the value of this ongoing direct promotion versus traffic from that search engine.

#8 Steve_Sardell

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 04:45 PM

the link(s) from the client's site serve the exact purpose for which many web design companies place it there in the first place: allowing visitors to the website to discover who designed it. Similarly, links to client sites in portfolios allow web design companies to display their work as it is (rather than as a smaller image of the site), and drives a bit of traffic to the client's site as well.

Hi DianeV.
No disagreement as to the reason why a design firm wants the link, nor of its intended use. But, in the clients best interest if the branding is a hyperlink taking the site visitor away from the site are we not doing a disservice to the client? In the print media we always place our logo on the back bottom, but in web design we place it prominately on the front. The branding I agree with, it is the link I am having trouble with.

#9 DianeV

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 04:50 PM

I get your point, although I doubt that the tiny little link we put on the bottom of some clients' pages is prominent at all.

Client's best interests: generally, I would guess that anyone who would leave a client's site (and none of ours are web designers) to follow a web designer link is not all that interested.

#10 James

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 05:15 PM

I see these links as being no different to a published by credit, or edited by credit on a book or magazine.

And of course, using a target="_blank" link will leave the original site open anyway.

#11 Mike521

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 05:32 PM

I agree, I see them as a good thing for all parties really.

If I was a store owner and I wanted a site, one of the best ways to find a designer I liked would be just stumbling upon a site and going "hey I like this design a lot, who made this?" nice to have an easy link for them showing who the designers are, and same goes for portfolios on websites

#12 Steve_Sardell

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 05:41 PM

Hi James,

I agree to an extent, but ackn'ments are not usually on the front cover, and if all only would open in a sep window. Please do not get me wrong, I am trying to convince myself it is appropriate.

#13 DianeV

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 05:43 PM

It's really up to you, and your client, and what you both deem appropriate. Some of our clients would like people to think they handle their websites in-house.

By the way, welcome to the forums!

#14 glengara

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 02:59 AM

*The branding I agree with, it is the link I am having trouble with.*

Agree 100% with this, and always recommend clients drop spurious links, particularly from the home page.

#15 alpine

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 03:06 AM

To play the devil's advocate here and referencing a discussion elsewhere on these forums about future-proofing:

What is a search engine's intent when it looks at links? In most studies, they are looking at a link being a "vote" for a site.

When you as a web designer place your link on a client site, is this a "vote" by the client? If so, why don't they place links with equal prominence to the workshop that services their car or the take-out restaurant that delivers baguettes at lunchtime?

This is without even thinking about possible impacts of theming or topic-sensitive PageRank.

Yes, it might work now, but then so do hidden text, layers and blog spamming, which are also artificial attempts to manipulate rankings. Who do you think will have the more stable long-term rankings? The web designers who only have links from their client sites or those that also have links from others who appreciate their free and valuable articles on the use of CSS (for example). I see many designer sites who only rely on client links to keep their sites visible - are they standing in the path of that hurricane?

#16 Black_Knight

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 03:50 AM

Indeed, Alpine, those are important points, so lets play with just a couple of ideas.

Firstly, this isn't saying we need to discard the idea of having links on client sites. Rather, we need to make the relevance more implicit.

The simplest way of attaining this would be to change the way these links are worded.

A typical credit for design currently might look like:
[quote]Site designed by SomeDesigner.com

More relevance would lie in the incredibly simple change of emphasis in:
[quote]This site designed by SomeDesigner.com

Of course, the page theme or topic is still different, but at least we have given a little more relevance to the link. Enough so? Well, possibly not, but it is certainly one step in the right direction.

Let's play with the ideas some more.

Okay, now suppose we instead placed a more meaningful link in the 'About' pages of the client site. So, where the topic of the page is about the site and the people behind it, your link is in perfect context. Your company is indeed part of the team behind the site. Rather than just one tiny link out of context, you could have a paragraph explaining your company's role in the design and maintenance of the site.

The same is easily true of the 'Contact Us' page. If your company is in any way responsible for ongoing changes, updates or general maintenance of the site, then of course people wishing to contact the company about the site, rather than the products, should have your details there. Once again, this is right in context with the page topic, and makes practical sense.

Let's keep going with another idea.

Okay, so what if the client doesn't have you maintaining the site, and only wants you to have a tiny link in small text in the page footers? Well, how about instead of that link being direct to your site, you create one additional page on that client's site for that footer link to go to.

Lemme try to sketch this out for you a bit.

In the page Footer is the link:
[quote]Site designed by SomeDesigner.com
But the trick is that that link wouldn't go direct to the designer's site. Instead, it would go to a page on the client's site that explains the designers role in creating the site, and that page would link to the designers site. That page was of course entirely topical about the design of the site.

See - an on-topic link from an on-topic page that is easy to make happen.

#17 glengara

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 04:35 AM

Brilliant suggestions BK, instantly added, and may well claim ownership ;-)

#18 Keywords

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 04:38 AM

Assuming the client is happy with the work, and agrees to add that page somewhere, it's definitely a "vote" for the designer's work. A lot of designers have a significant impact on the client's business, because "site design" is a lot more than "graphic design."

A lot of design clients would be quite happy to talk about the process and effort that went into making their site look & work better, because it shows how much *they* care about *their* customers/visitors.

I think it's a shame that more designers don't take the time to share their knowledge. Simply adding case studies to a designer's site is immensely helpful to their prospects. Sharing those case studies as published articles would be immensely helpful to the designer as well.

#19 alpine

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 05:15 AM

Ammon, I agree absolutely that this kind of "link" - especially the specially designed page - is one of the ways to go.

Unfortunately, in many cases, webmasters have yet to wake up to the power and the opportunities of something along these lines. To take an example:

One site I run is one of the top-ranked and most extensive sites for a particular area (it's informational not commercial). There is a marketing organisation/co-operation which links this area with similar areas in other parts of Europe.

About six months ago, I looked through the SERPs for these other areas and found the best and most switched-on sites for those other destinations. I wrote to them all and suggested that I could create a page devoted to each individual area (with the raison d'etre of the marketing co-operation) which would also review their sites and link to them. They could do the same on their sites and we would have authorities linking one to another with relevant and on-topic but varied content.

I got one reply. And that one informed me that they didn't give away free advertising on their site...

#20 Grumpus

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 12:26 PM

This is a little off topic, but...

I got one reply. And that one informed me that they didn't give away free advertising on their site...


When I was in college, I did some door-to-door sales to pay some bills. The product I had was marketed directly to businesses. The trick of this job wasn't so much getting past the goalie (you know, the person out front blocking sales people from getting in). The trick was to identify the right person to talk to (identify the "goal") before even approaching the goalie. Getting past the receptionist does you no good if you don't get in front of the right person. And, if you identify the right person properly, its even easier to get past the goalie - because it is that person's job to deal with the issues you are about to present them.

In your example above (a good example, mind you), your main problem, in my opinion anyway, is that you didn't get that e-mail into the proper person's hands. Somehow it worked its way into the advertising or some other equally non-relevant manager's hands. It needed to get to someone who at least understands how the web works and preferably someone who knows how SEO works. Once it gets into their hands and they are sold on the idea, then they end up carrying (or handing off) your message upwards along the ladder toward the person who ultimately approves the request. The advantage here is that on each rung of the ladder, the person who has the message is sold on the idea and he/she will not only overcome the objections that people have, but will also know the most efficient and direct route up that ladder - something that you could never possibly know without being inside. (And often "the top" is not even where you might expect it to be - the person you chose in the first place might even be the top in regards to that specific decision - and most likely never even reach the CEO or even head of Advertising, for that matter).

It's ideal if you can have them bring you along that trip to the top, but even that's not always necessary if you've truly found the right person and have adequately sold them on the idea.

Okay - sorry for the sidetrack - back to your linking topics.

G.

#21 JohnScott

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 02:04 PM

On the topic of inbound links from client sites...

When I was on the other end - as the client - I didn't appreciate "Designed By" links. In fact, I fired my first designer over it. The site generated revenue from links, and since I paid for the design I felt no obligation to give the designer a free link from every page of the site.

But if anybody cared to look, they'll notice most client sites linking back to either V7Inc.com or IMR. I always ask the client first, and then I'll often offer something in return. (Like a year of free hosting.)

Just because you're a designer doesn't give you an abslute right to footer links.

:P

#22 Grumpus

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 03:05 PM

To me, there's value in the links to me as a designer. I'll bid a price and say that they can subtract 10 or 15% off the price if they allow me to put those links there. This allows the client to make the call - what's more important, a few hundred dollars in savings or a web site that doesn't link to me.

I'm happy either way, and the clients are happy having the choice. (Note, I don't say it'll cost more if they don't have the link, I say it'll cost less if they let me have the link).

G.

#23 Black_Knight

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 02:09 AM

Assuming the client is happy with the work, and agrees to add that page somewhere...


Yes, those are of course important provisos, Dan, and we know that there will be times when a client is okay about a footer link, but not about having a page about the actual design that went into the site. <sigh>

However, there are still ways around that, and one of those is precisely along the lines you mentioned.

adding case studies to a designer's site is immensely helpful to their prospects

If the client would allow you a footer link, but not a page about the design work on his site, then it would be best to use the footer link to point to a 'case study' page about that particular site on your own site.

See, where we can't make the outbound link more topical to the page it will link to, we need to make the page it will link to more topically relevant to the page where the link was instead. A "topic bridge" if you will.

If all the footer links on the companyX website pointed to a specific 'case study' page on the designer's site about the specific design needs and process of the companyX website, you have again made the link more topical, more 'themed', and thus have bridged the gap between the focus of his site, and the focus of the designer's site effectively.

Moreover, because the client would this way gain an added page (and link) from your own site, he's probably going to be a lot happier about having the footer links in the first place.

As you rightly say, having the case study was good for your own marketing anyway, so there really are multiple benefits to this approach.

#24 gravitate

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Posted 10 January 2004 - 05:06 PM

Hi Black Knight,

First time poster.

I appreciate your clarification on this. I am a web designer and have spent some time in another forum discussing this specific topic, but hadn't thought of the possibility of putting this page on my site as opposed to my client's site.

My question for you would be, do you think that this "bridge" or "case study" page would have the same weight if it were on my site as opposed to my client's site? I would just think the SE would give less value to a page like this on my "biased" site as opposed to an "unbiased" client site. All things being equal, I sure like the idea of having this case study on my site for all of the obvious reasons, but want to get some thoughts on what would be the best approach given my clients are quite generous about credit links to our site.

Thanks,
Michael

#25 Black_Knight

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Posted 11 January 2004 - 04:15 AM

Hi Michael, and welcome to Cre8asite :wave:

do you think that this "bridge" or "case study" page would have the same weight if it were on my site as opposed to my client's site?

Well, in practical terms there are two sides to this. On the pure SEO effect, I'd suspect that the page on the clients site would help most with the topical/themed link value part of the effect. On the other hand, creating a case study page of content on your own site would probably offset the small difference in 'theme weight' by bringing in some extra fresh traffic on new search phrases all by itself.

The other side is the marketing side, and there is a lot of benefit in having that case study on your site, even if you already had a page on the client's site giving similar information from the client angle. Those case studies can seriously help with conversions and they can help to 'pre-educate' your future clients on the ways you like to work too (which can cut down on some of the discussion times and debates if you know what I mean).

The case study pages have a value all of their own anyway, both to you, and to your prospective (and featured) clients.

It is not at all a bad idea to use both where possible.

#26 gravitate

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Posted 11 January 2004 - 12:58 PM

Ammon,

Thanks for your advice. It all makes perfect sense to me.

I had a look through your website and the sites that were linked from there and found a wealth of information that I thought was extremely well-written and on point. It seems you have a lot of very good experience! Thanks for sharing.

Cheers,
Michael

#27 Keywords

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Posted 11 January 2004 - 01:30 PM

A tip to all designers out there...

If you can write a good case study, you can write articles about your process. There are dozens of high-traffic websites and e-zines that would love to reproduce them. Sitepoint, WebProNews, SiteProNews, and many others. They're all starving for good content.

My article archive website reached a pretty high pagerank (PR7 on the Google toolbar) without a whole lot of incoming links. Almost all of our links came about from publishing articles. I'm sure it's no coincidence that the search terms bringing in the most traffic are tied to the most widely published articles.

#28 gravitate

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Posted 11 January 2004 - 01:58 PM

Hey Dan,

I have considered this for some time, but figured hat you had to have an "in" or some kind of connection with their editors to even have a prayer of getting listed in their Ezines. We have some pretty good writers on our staff that write our newsletters, so we could produce the content if the opportunity presented itself. We are in the middle of a major rewrite of our site, so everyone has been utilizing their writing muscles of late.

What would be the process in your experience? Would we contact them with an idea for an article, or would they suggest the article and we would write it based on their direction? Sorry, I am not clear on how this all gets done, but would love to write articles for anyone that would be willing to publish!! (A not so subtle hint to anyone that might read this thread. :) )

Thanks for the tip! BTW, I have been meaning to drop you a line about your keyword research service. We might be interested in outsourcing this to you since we are a bit overwhelmed at the moment and you offer a compelling value for this service.

Cheers,
Michael

#29 Keywords

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Posted 11 January 2004 - 02:17 PM

You don't need an "in," all you have to do is open the door. Read the publications, understand who their audience is, understand the writing style that works on the web.

Your first contacts should be directly to the editors - let them know who you are (briefly), let them know what you'd like to write about (briefly), and let them know where they can see samples of your writing. They'll let you know what they need, and then you can write it.

All if the iEntry publications (WebProNews, etc.) have the editor's contact info in every issue. Sitepoint.com has guidelines on their site. All of these publications get a huge volume of submissions from people who have never actually "done" what they're writing about, so perspectives from actual professionals are very welcome.

Once your stuff gets published in a few bigger publications a few times, you'll be able to just email new stuff to the editors, and a lot of them will come to you and ask for articles on specific topics. If I write an article today about the Inktomi search engine, I can be almost 100% certain that it will be picked up by "everybody" because that's a hot topic and everybody is asking me to write something on it.

#30 gravitate

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Posted 11 January 2004 - 02:46 PM

Well, then I guess it is up to us to go find these opportunities! Thanks for the info.

- Michael

#31 Steve_Sardell

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 10:32 PM

Ammon,

Your posts added a new dimension to this backlink query. Thank you for an excellent clarification and insightful perspective. It is much appreciated.

#32 Ricky

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 03:25 AM

Well i have seen somewhere in google's faq that incomming link from other site's on same server sometimes make google think that the person have made a site and has made other sites to popularize main site and can penalize it by reducing PR. I am not sure about this thought but i have read that..

#33 Black_Knight

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 05:26 AM

Molsmonster, thank you for your kind comments.



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