Should I Link To My Web Designer’s Site?

Your well-meaning web designer is hurting you and himself.

Can’t tell you how many websites I’ve run across where the web designer, hoping for some extra benefit for creating a site, actually cheats himself and his customer, the site owner. As the owner of a website promotion services company, I’ve seen this a great deal.

You’ve seen traces of it on many a website yourself (maybe even yours!). In an effort to take credit for your beautiful website, your designer puts a link to his website on your home page — or worse, on every page.

Why is this bad for you? I’ll explain that today, and why it’s bad for your web designer later.

Google loves to rank sites well that they judge to be “authority sites” — sites that appear to be authorities on a subject and that help people learn more about their topic. An authority site discusses different facets of a topic – not just about widgets in general, but about variations on the same theme: red widgets, blue widgets, small widgets, rechargeable widgets, etc.

So, if your site discusses various aspects of your topic, and helps your visitors find other web pages that discuss it as well, then Google judges your site to be more of an authority on the subject matter.

Think about it from Google’s point of view. Google appreciates sites that offer links to related topics on other websites – you are helping them help those who use their search service to learn about a topic. In return, Google will rank your site higher.

What does this have to do with your web designer?
If every page on your site that is about “Long-Tailed Whippoorwills” links to a site about “Dallas web designers” is Google more likely or less likely to judge your site as being helpful to people wanting to learn about whippoorwills? Less likely.

What do you do?
Well, if you like your web designer and don’t mind him taking credit for your site, you can keep his links but turn off their ability to drain your ranking power. You do this by adding this attribute to links to his site: rel=”nofollow”. This tells Google’s spiders that that particular page is not officially referring readers interested in your page’s topic to your web designer’s site. Humans can still follow the link, but Google won’t count it against you.

Now, if you LOVE your web designer, you can build him a “referral page” on your site and link to that referral page from your home page, or better, from the About page. That referral page can then link to his site (more on how this really helps him next time).

If you’re not so hip on your web designer, then remove all the links to his site off yours. They are draining your ranking power both unnecessarily and inefficiently.

Now that you know, you’ll cringe along with me when you see yet another well-meaning web designer linking to his own site straight from a customer’s.