You are probably here because you know how important SEO is to any B2B company.  What you may not know is how important the proper distribution of B2B SEO elements are.  This includes the placement and types of backlinks, sitewide links, and the effects it has on SEO. 

As Google crawls your B2B website for key factors to rank you on the top page, it’s confirmed that backlinks remain one of their most important ranking factors.  So, what is a backlink, and how does that lead to sitewide links and higher SEO ranking?

What is a Backlink?

Backlinks are links found on another website linking back to your website, or vice versa.  Backlinks are crucial for your B2B SEO strategy because it shows Google that other websites support your content.  Ever go for a job interview and get asked for references? It’s like Google asking your website for a reference during the crawl.  Backlinks are a “vote of confidence” from other websites that increase your authority and trust. If your website is worth linking to, it must be worth ranking high in Google’s search engine results page, right? 

Backlinks build authority for your website, and it is said that the more backlinks you have, the better it is for your SEO rank.   More backlinks + higher authority = higher SERP ranking. What could go wrong?  Well, if those backlinks are not high-quality or if they are unnatural links, this could do more harm than good.  Let me introduce you to backlink’s cousin – the sitewide link.  

What is a Sitewide Link?

When one of these backlinks is distributed multiple places sitewide, that becomes a sitewide link.  Sitewide links are usually placed in the footer, header, side bar, or navigation menu of your B2B website.  The popularity of sitewide links were huge pre-penguin update – this is because sitewide links were a quick way to increase your backlink count with no consequences.  However, most sitewide links are now considered spam, especially those links with no context or unrelated content around them. Google is quick to penalize your SEO score as a result. 

A sitewide link was previously accounted for as multiple backlinks by Google, despite leading to the same destination.  This added on to your number of backlinks which would ultimately increase your SEO rank.  Because the more the backlinks the better, right? Well, that is not always the case.  We are here to break down the good, and the bad of backlink strategy.  

Are Sitewide Links Helpful?

There are many factors going into making a backlink and sitewide link good and bad.  It all started with the Penguin update.  In 2012, Google made an update to their ranking algorithm called penguin.  The Penguin update’s mission was to eliminate any spam or abuse in SEO tactics to rank better – specifically towards links.  This included the quality and distribution of backlinks on one’s website.  Ultimately, the quality of the link became just as important, if not more, than the quantity of the links.  

If there were multiple links to the same domain on one’s website, that is considered unnatural link building. Natural backlinks include links that are not paid for, exchanged, or a part of any link scheme. Basically, any link that is not earned through merit.  In addition, if there is no context around those links, which sitewide links usually do not have, Google will interpret them as spam.  Since the initial update in 2012, the Penguin update has been adjusted a few times.  The latest update still includes a penalty for spammy links, but is now a part of the core search engine ranking algorithm.

So, how can you determine if your sitewide link is helping and not hurting your SEO rank? There are a few factors in determining this:

    1. Don’t abuse sitewide links to where they are excessive across your website
    2. Try to avoid using keywords as your anchor text
    3. Avoid using any other unnatural linking as mentioned above
    4. Make sure these links come from a trustworthy and authoritative website

Taking the above steps when using a sitewide link will deter Google from considering the sitewide link as spam.  Now, it is safe to say that sitewide links are not harmful to your B2B SEO if used correctly, but are they helpful?  There are a few factors determining this. 

As previously mentioned, a sitewide link is considered a type of backlink, and a backlink is considered one of Google’s top ranking factors.  Therefore, sitewide links can most certainly help your SEO game.  This is not to say it is any better than a regular backlink, but a link is a link.  Sitewide links are also beneficial for brand recognition as many B2B companies utilize these links to advertise their service provided to that website.

The Sitewide Solution

If your SEO ranking is struggling, it could be due to an unnatural sitewide link. But if there are no clear issues where the sitewide link has a significant effect on rankings, there is no reason to remove it.  If recognition and brand awareness is most important for your B2B website, then keep the sitewide link. You can always attach the “no follow” attribute to the link, allowing Google to exclude it from your SEO score.

If you have concerns over whether your sitewide link is spammy, do a site audit in order to examine these links to begin to understand what your backlink portfolio looks like and how it could be optimized.  Make sure you are aware of any significant and unusual changes in number or value for your backlinks and sitewide links.  From there you’ll be able to determine the backlink and sitewide link health and its impact on your B2B SEO. 

Talk to GoingClear about your SEO Strategy

If you need expert help to get you started with your digital marketing strategy, the team at GoingClear is more than ready and happy to assist. We have years of experience in marketing, strategy, and design to help you build a brilliant content strategy for B2B marketing that will reap real rewards. Contact us today to get started!