I recently had to research this question for a client–I knew the answer on a gut level, but needed the data to back it up. Turns out, it’s kind of hard to find.

There’s a lot of information out there about what you should do with footer links. And there’s a lot of information out there about the practice of “keyword stuffing” (and if you’re still doing this in your site, please join us in this decade!). But there’s actually relatively little information about specifically stuffing your footer with keywords.

Everyone wants to rank well for key terms that may be a little hard to work into your home page content. And back in the day, keyword stuffing (whether in the body, hidden by colors or slide-out panels, or in the footer) did actually work. That was a simpler time…an easier-to-spam-the-search-engines time. But that time has passed. We can’t keep thinking of Google (or even Yahoo) as just a term-frequency-matching system.

Try Googling (oh, the irony) how Google’s algorithm actually works to deliver search results. They’re not actually going to explain it to you. But what you will realize quite quickly is that IT’S REALLY COMPLICATED. Ranking highly for your key phrases hasn’t been a matter of simple frequency on the page in a verrrrrry long time. Keyword stuffing simply ain’t what it used to be. The other thing you’ll quickly realize is that the Google algorithm is REALLY SMART. The Google “bot” is parsing more than just your text content, and it’s making a lot of judgements in the process

Think about it. Google isn’t just a search engine anymore. They’re a translation algorithm (Google Translate), a multi-national location service (Google Maps), the provider of your email (Gmail) and the creators of a brand-spankin-new DRIVERLESS CAR. Google has access to a wealth of information about human behavior and human language, and if you think they aren’t using it to assist search results then you are a fool. To top it off, they’re increasingly using human factors (user experience factors!) to influence search results.

So, back to that question of keywords in your footer. SEO is often seen as a game. The game goal is to get the best–number one in the SERP. You’re playing against the computer (Google). The computer understands what is and is not proper written English.

Do you still think you can beat the computer by filling your footer with (to use an example applicable to this post):

Keywords, keyword stuffing, footer keywords, fill footer with keywords, footer seo

When was the last time you saw a sentence that was actually written like that?

SEOs are waking up and smelling the coffee…SEO is becoming less of a game. The better Google’s algorithm gets, the less of a game SEO is, and the more we have to focus on building real, quality content to get good rankings, and, far more importantly, good traffic, dedicated users and ROI. Let’s stop playing a game and start making better websites.

And no, you shouldn’t fill your footer with keywords.

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