Do links in the header and footer of the site matter


Hi guys, And welcome to another edition of Zupo SEO talk and tea. 

Today's conversation is do links in the header and footer of the website matter? This is a really important question because when a lot of people are redesigning their websites, they can change navigation, they can change things in the footer, and oftentimes what they want to make sure is that, if you're doing things right, you want to make sure the links you're moving around don't affect your SEO. So that's what the conversation we're going to have today.

Before we begin, I want to introduce the tea you have today. Today is a Darjeeling black tea gifted by my housemate from Black and Bold. 5% of all proceeds for this company go to disadvantaged domestic youth in the US, so always nice to do a social good kind of tea. But let's go ahead and get brewing. Black tea, by the way again, before I go jump into SEO, is usually used for milk tea bases, so if you've ever had a milk tea with boba, black tea is usually that base. So I'm drinking the base of a milk tea.

But let's go ahead and get chatting, guys. So do links in the header and footer matter? Let's take this as a two parter. Do links in the header ... When I mean the header, I mean the top navigation. Do links in the top navigation matter? 110%, yes. Links in the navigation and in the header mean a whole lot. It might even be arguably the most important place where you can put a link. Google deems links in the navigation to be the most important because you put it there. The common user today expects that the navigation would be able to guide them to where they need to go. And if your website has links in the navigation, we'll say, okay, your links are in this navigation panel. These must be the most important.

So when it comes to your links in the header, if you're redesigning a site or you're thinking about moving things around, ensure that the links that you're moving around are not important for SEO or that there's not any drawbacks. You do not want to move a link off the header or the navigation that has SEO value because once you move it off the header, it's not a done deal, but you risk losing some rankings because the link is not in the main navigation anymore. So again, links in the header do really matter. And if you want to start moving the links to the navigation around, I would say do it in a very controlled, tested away. Maybe if you have 20 pages in the navigation, but you want to cut it down to 10, remove two first and then evaluate how the rankings go. Then remove the other two. It doesn't need to be one fell swoop.

There are many reasons why you may want to move links out of the navigation. Some include CRO, conversion rate optimization, or just better navigation for users or a better user experience. These are all great. That's fine. I'm just saying for SEO purposes, SEO is all about ranking. We don't care about anything else, really, in the SEO realm. So in that case, if all we care about is Google rankings, you want to make sure the pages you remove the navigation, what are those pages? Are they targets for SEO rankings? And if so, both, can we monitor them first, and then if we move it, if the ranking is kind of fluctuated, then we've got to move it back, right? You want to do it in a controlled, tested way. So that's on the header side. You don't want to mess with links too much in the header because they are a very important placement for SEO.

Footer. The footer is a very much different story. Footer links do matter in the sense that they're there, the links are great, but a lot of companies over the years have tried to hide links in the footer, and lots of them. And footer links are now considered by Google kind of a lesser place. They're not as a priority for link placement. So if you have links in the footer and you remove them, they're not that big of a deal, to be honest, because Google usually deems footer links as a place where a lot of people will shelve links that they don't care as much about. So therefore, if you're trying to move links in and out of the footer, that's not as concerning. It's the navigation, the header, that is the most important.

So if you're trying to kind of place and figure out links for your site, putting it in the footer doesn't really matter. It's not going to impact you that much. It might help you marginally, so go ahead and put them in the footer if you'd like. Or if you need to remove them, not too concerning. But if they're in the main navigation, that's where you really need to start having conversations with the SEO team design team and the main business team to kind of talk about, okay, we're going to move this page. Moving links off the navigation can often affect rankings. Which one do we want to experiment with first? Are we comfortable with that? As the design team, can we make this work? There are a lot of conversations to be had. And I think usually with navigation, that's where a lot of changes are made without discussion. You can links up the navigation, but you want to make sure that you just do your due diligence so your rankings don't fall off.

So again, nothing is set in stone, but I always encourage, when you're moving things on and off the navigation, talk with the team and make sure everything's good to go. On the footer, less so. Just leave a note for people. You don't have to do as much testing. The footer doesn't still matter as much, but it's still worth testing just to make sure. So hopefully that-

Jason Khoo

Jason is founder and CEO of Zupo, which is an Orange County based SEO consulting agency helping construct powerful long term SEO strategies for our clients. Jason also enjoys multiple cups of tea a day, hiding away on weekends catching up on reading and rewatching The Simpsons for the 20th time.