Is linking and sourcing articles within your content with footnotes good for SEO?

“..all the links over the page are like sources. Showing we know what we’re talking about. They’re also good for SEO right?” – Carlos Augusto

Carlos is asking an interesting question. Sourcing information in your article is a great way to be credible and it also helps your SEO. It actually helps your SEO in a couple of ways:

  1. It builds trust. Therefore there is a higher likelihood people will share an article that is well researched and can prove it with credible sources.
  2. Search engine bots (spiders) NEED links to do their job. It’s long been said in the SEO world that these links help search engines figure out what your content is about. It also helps them with how they rank webpages.

So yeah. It’s a good idea.

However… The Footnote Thing.

example of footnote style linking

Example of footnote style linking

That, I would stay away from. Or test at least.

The reason is that hyperlinks with anchor text are part of the way search engines learn what certain webpages are about. When a link has text, its not only pointing to another source, it has language associated with it that might clue the search engine into what that new webpage is about. This is also a fundamental SEO practice: keyword rich anchor text. The text within a link has always been a key driver to how search engines determine which webapages should rank for what keyword searches.

example of a text link

Even though the footnote method appears more academic and proper, I would actually abstain from linking that way. Here’s my rationale:

I know for a fact that all the home runs we wrote for KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg – we just linked to other content within the main post body. We never did the “footnotes thing”. And the countless other sites I’ve worked with (or looked at their analytics and notice huge traffic numbers) – none of them were doing the footnote linking style. I hope that answer satisfies you :). Please let me know if you’ve seen otherwise.

You can always experiment. If you work on / operate an .edu website, this entire topic doesn’t apply to you, so no need to change the way you’re linking.

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