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NickMorris
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It’s no wonder web developers get so defensive when challenged on this point (see thread posted by Jayne) because probably 90% of their rankings are a result of footer links on their client’s websites.

However, you could also argue that its an ‘industry standard’ to include these links on all websites. I can imagine you might get a bit irked if you worked on a movie and they just decided not to include any credits… or maybe not.

Anyway, to get back to your question… these types of links fall into the “attribution” category, along with bio links in guest posts, infographic attribution links, widget attribution links, WP theme links etc.

Attribution links fall into a grey area as far as search engines are concerned because their ability to help G determine which websites should rank the best vary a lot depending on the circumstances of each link.

For example, many SEO’s consider guest posting to be a very ‘white hat’ link building technique while some sites benefiting from WP theme links were penalised during the recent round of updates.

IMO its unethical to just put the link there without asking your client first. If you have the OK from the client but you want to avoid any Google trouble you can simply put a no follow tag on the links.

If you want to try and leverage those links for some juice then I’d suggest not getting greedy with anchor text and consider your ability to remove the links in the future if required.