Historically, we have placed “Website Designed by 90 Degree Design” and linked back to our website in the footers of websites that we build. We did this for 2 reasons – first, we felt like it was a good way for potential clients to easily find our website and second, we felt that linking to our website would boost our search engine rankings. The big question is, does it improve your rankings or, as many people now feel, does it negatively affect your SEO?
One issue is that footer links have been overused and no longer carry much weight for rankings.
More importantly, many SEO experts believe that Google considers this a “link scheme” and a violation of their Webmaster Guidelines. You can find more information about Google’s guidelines for link schemes here. A good number of professionals believe that web developers linking back to their sites in the footer of websites is considered as “widely distribut(ing) links in the footers or templates of various sites” and that you will be penalized for unnatural links or link spamming.
In this case it seems to be a better safe than sorry scenario. At the very least, you will not gain any positive traction from backlinking to your website in the footer and it could actually backfire and cause you to drop in rankings.
There may be times when you feel that the exposure your link will get from a client site outweighs the risk of being penalized for spammy backlinks. If you do decide to backlink, adding a no-follow attribute will help Google and other search engines know you are not trying to manipulate results.