Your Web Designer Is Stealing Your Search Rankings

How do you know if your web development company is stealing from you?

Well, there is a way. But, did you have your website made by a web design company?

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Then it’s probably happening to you!

But just to be sure:

Go to your website and scroll all the way down to the bottom. Is there a “developed by {web company}” link?

Is it there? Yes?

You’re probably asking, “why’s that even important?”

I’m glad you asked. Let’s begin with a story:

You’re going to get your dream house built

For the past 3 years, you’ve had a vision in your mind for the “perfect house.”

You’ve had (what feels like) a thousand of conversations with your wife about design, layout and even what color drapes the living room will have.

Finally, the day to make everything real comes:

You go and hire a contractor.

Your contractor does an amazing job. Your house is everything you wanted it to be.

The kitchen cabinets are the perfect stain. The marble countertops match the floor and the grass is greener than you could have imagined.

You walk out the front door away from the house, walk into the grass and turn to stare (a little) at your dream house.

From the foundation to the roof, everything is what you pictured.

But wait, on the roof, what is that

…a banner, advertising the construction company?

You start thinking, “Where was that in the contract? Did I sign off on that?”

No…you probably didn’t.

And that happens online all the time – except it’s hidden in plain site.

If you had someone build your website for you, you probably have “website by” on the bottom of your site – including a link to their site.

And that “footer link” is on every page of your new site.

Why is that important? And why should I even care?

It’s Old-School SEO 101:

Get as many links as possible.

Maybe they haven’t heard, Google cares (had to dig through the archives) where your links are coming from…

…and, it kinda IS stealing – especially if it wasn’t discussed with you.

Just a little background on why it’s stealing. Don’t worry, this won’t get too technical!

In the SEO field, we refer to something called “link juice.” Basically, it’s like an endorsement.

If someone links to you, you must be important. The more “link juice” you have, the better.

That’s an extremely watered down version of how websites are “ranked.”

Links coming into your website are an important ranking factor.

Think of your website like a contestant in a beauty contest, and links are judges votes.

You want to have more votes than your competitors.

But these days, non-contextual links are extremely devalued to Google. The same way NBA players get to the all-star game (votes from other players), is the same way you get ranked.

Fan votes don’t count.


You want links from people in your industry.

To get those coveted rankings, you have to be just like an NBA superstar.

So yes, they technically are powering their site with yours. But, it isn’t doing them much good…

Why should you be concerned?

Well, it could be hurting your rankings too. AND, if they’re doing your SEO for you…


You’re judged on who you link out to. Relevant outbound links help.

But more than likely, they aren’t relevant to you…

…and your sight’s linked to them a ton!

AND, if they’re doing your SEO for you…


My biggest issue is most people wouldn’t know how to take the footer link off if they wanted – it’s usually not like other page links and a lot harder to get to. Plus, most

Plus, most customers don’t know the value of a footer link.

Thank about it like this:

If your website has 10 pages, you’re sending the web dev company 10 links. If your site has 500 pages, you’re sending them 500 links.

Those are all links AWAY from your site.

AND, if they were worth their retainer (SEO-wise), they wouldn’t do that to you…

…or their own site.

No one really wins in that scenario…

…plus, if I’m paying you to build my online house, why would I want you advertising on it without my permission?

If you’re a web developer and are really that hard up for links (we should talk), just ask your client.

More than likely they’d say yes anyway.

Transparency is key.

You know why?

If someone like me (an SEO) uses a couple search operators, I can find ALL YOUR CLIENTS.

Or better yet, your competition (who really knows what they were doing) can too – and take them from you.

If you’re transparent, it won’t matter if your competitor finds your clients.

Just don’t keep doing something just because it’s a common industry practice…


Let’s end with a PSA to web developers who want to genuinely help their clients:

Don’t keep doing something just because it’s a common industry practice…



Adam “Search Operator” Leech

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Search Operator Leech