A lot of webmasters add a, ' built by', ' supported by' or ' website by' link to the footer/bottom of clients websites. Why do they do that? Is it right to link your site to the footer of your clients website? Is it advertising and is it even allowed.

A lot of products have branding. When you buy a car it will have a brand logo, or if you purchase a TV or laptop they all have some sort of branding so why not a website. As a webmaster I sometimes get asked to manage or take over the maintenance of a website. I personally do not put my own company name in the footer of websites but I do ask the client what they think about the footer link from the last webmaster or company that managed their website. "Shall I remove it?, I ask.

"Please remove it, I don’t want it there". I then ask: "Did you agree on a link in the footer or was it just there?" Usually I hear that it wasn’t agreed on and that the client didn’t even notice it in the beginning. On the other hand some people do say that they don’t mind a footer link to the builders website. The flip side of having your link in the footer would be to be credited for a rundown shabby website that was built 5 years ago and now, with more cut and pastes than a scrapbook, and to still see your name in the footer. That can be somewhat frightening.

How does Google see this? A link to the builder of the website in your footer is seen by Google’s search engine as an ‘unnatural link’. An unnatural link is considered a violation of Googles guidelines and can be seen as a way to manipulate PageRank. This is in most cases not the intention of the webmaster who is only looking for recognition for his work. But in the eyes of Google, money does not have to change hands for a link to be seen as a paid link (think along the lines of affiliate leads). For webmasters the way around this is to use what’s called a “nofollow” tag. A nofollow tag tells Google not to follow this page or link and are frequently used on login pages, or in this case a link to the web builders company website.

A good alternative for adding a link would be an initiative called ‘ humans.txt’. Humans text is a text file that the webmaster can put in the root folder of a website. Humans.txt is a simple and fast, none code intrusive method of knowing the people and technology behind the website. So it’s just a plain text file that shows who has contributed to a website.

For instance, Google uses humans.txt on the Google websites. Here you can view Google’s humans.txt file:

It states:

“Google is built by a large team of engineers, designers, researchers, robots, and others in many different sites across the globe. It is updated continuously, and built with more tools and technologies than we can shake a stick at. If you'd like to help us out, see”.

Quite a few websites use Humans text, for instance here is The New York Times humans.txt file:

And here is my own Humans.txt file:

Humans txt can be seen as credits at the end of the film. It may contain your contact information or even reflect a bit of your personality.

So the internet is for humans… As we are people and not machines.

Stephen Cassidy