As a sitewide element (head logo is another one already discussed), footer used to be a widely used way to both interlink your own pages and add external sitewide links. It was then so much used and abused that it turned into a some kind of "red flag" for search engines (external link in the footer = very high probability these are paid links).
So now instead of optimizing the footer with links, most webmasters rightfully focus on both making it useful and avoiding any chance of being blamed for breaking any rules;.
So what to include in the footer? Let’s first see how other smart people handle this:
So what are the DOs and DON’Ts when thinking through the site footer?
- Adding useful navigational links in the footer is a good idea as once the visitor scrolls the page down, he will need some appealing link to click to continue browsing the site. Besides, if those links contain keyword-based anchor text, this may also be good for SEO (especially for pages that lack content of their own);
- External links (especially, off-topic links) shouldn’t be there, as they can very much look like paid ("spammy") links. Probably, if you need external links there, it’s wise to use nofollow attribute;
- Placing copyright notice (and year) in the footer is a common fashion:
- it makes your site look trustworthy;
- people are used to seeing it there, so it will make them feel safer.
- Footer shouldn’t be the only place where you specify your contact information (or link to contact-us page) – if you really want people to reach you. However it is wise to add some reference to your contact page there as footer seems to be the first place visitors check when they come to your site with the primary purpose to contact you.
So to conclude:
- make your website footer relevant and useful;
- don’t add too many elements to the footer – it should be clean and concise;
- focus on people (SEO value of the footer is too insignificant anyway);
- follow the common fashion: people want to see common elements at there common places.
Any other footer tips? Please share!