What are Sitewide Backlinks & Their Impact on Search Engine Ranking

What are Sitewide Backlinks: Backlinks are considered top priority because search engines use them to determine the authority of a website. But over the years, a series of updates have shown that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to links. Link building strategies are essential in your SEO campaign. Ideally, you want natural or organic backlinks your website receives to create valuable and relevant content.

Site-wide links are becoming a very controversial topic in the SEO community. Some claim that their implementation is suitable for your entire campaign, while others don’t really believe that. What exactly is a site-wide link?

It is a link that appears on most (or all) pages of a website. However, you must be careful when using site-wide links. Depending on how you implement them, they may be reported as spam. Here are two common places where site-wide links can appear:

In the footer: If a website uses a template for its footer, any link added there is likely to be a site-wide link. However, this tactic is risky. They are often misused by website owners and are considered paid links by search engines.

In the sidebar of a website: A list of these links is displayed on the side of each page of a website. Many claim that these links can be even more harmful than footer links. They take up more space on a website and are therefore easy to spot by search engines.

How does a backlink work & What are Sitewide Backlinks?

Backlinks are created when a website (i.e. a referring domain) points to another website by mentioning it on one of its pages (usually by placing a contextual hyperlink within relevant content).

  • Websites transfer value by linking to one another. Think of backlinks as trust signals or citations for websites.
  • A backlink consists of a URL with anchor text (clickable text) that describes the content to which the URL points.
  • Backlinks can be placed in many places on a website or across the web. For example, a backlink can be placed in the main content of a blog post so that it can signal to Google that the external page it links to may have contextual relevance.
  • High-quality backlinks have natural, contextual anchor text that blends with the content and doesn’t seem manipulative or false. Visitors are more likely to follow a link if they believe it will take them somewhere useful.
  • As a visitor, you simply click on the anchor text and are redirected to another website. This means that you were redirected to the website via the backlink you clicked.

The way backlinks work for ranking is primarily by determining relevance and conveying domain authority (or power) from the referring domain to the receiving site. If the referring domain is valuable or ranks high on Google, some of that value will be passed through the backlink.

How do Google algorithms read backlinks?

So how do Google algorithms work? (What are Sitewide Backlinks)

Google obtains information from various sources, such as:

  • web pages
  • Book digitization
  • User Submitted Content
  • Public databases and directories
  • And much more

Google algorithms basically follow three approaches to finding and reading backlinks.


The first thing they do is find out what’s on the Internet. Google has to constantly search for new pages using automated web crawlers. These bots are responsible for finding new pages and adding them to a list of known pages.

Some sites have already been crawled and others are newly discovered when crawlers follow an outbound link from one page to another (in this case, they discover backlinks).

When the crawler crawls a web page, it tries to find everything on it, such as: E.g., text and non-text content, visual representation, URL hierarchy, etc. This leads to the next step called indexing.


Google’s search index contains all the websites crawled on the web. Like an index at the end of a book, it contains an entry for every word on every web page. When a page is indexed, it is added to all entries for all words it contains.

Indexing determines what a website is used for once it is discovered. Google analyzes website content and catalogs media such as text, images and videos. (What are Sitewide Backlinks)

The Google algorithm also analyzes the quality and relevance of the linked pages (including external links). All of this information is stored in Google’s index database for categorization and SEO purposes.


To rank well in the SERPs, you need to be indexed. Your website is like a book in a library and Google needs to know how to properly rank and reference your website and its content in order to better serve its search engine users.

Consider also the analogy of how bookstores place the most popular, trending, or critically acclaimed books at the front of the store so shoppers see them first.

The most relevant and high-quality indexed pages are “served” to search engine users first (i.e., they will rank higher in the SERPs for a given keyword). (What are Sitewide Backlinks)

During the crawling, indexing and ranking process, Google’s algorithms discover, track and analyze backlinks to index and rank web pages as they see fit.


While sitewide link building for SEO may be a dead tactic, it still remains worth discussing. Ignorance to best practices may come back to bite you hard, even if you had nothing to do with creating a sitewide link with unnatural anchor text to your website.

Are you needing help with building links to your website for SEO? Our backlink-building service can help. Contact us today!

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