Scroll to the bottom of this page right now.

Seriously, look down there. Just really quick, then come right back. I’ll wait.

That big blue ribbon you see at the bottom of the page, and every page for that matter, is a footer. This inconspicuous area of your website is actually a very valuable piece of real estate. What you choose to put or not put in there can have a big impact on your website. So that begs the question: what should you put in your website footer? Better yet: what should you NOT put in there?

DO: Include a brief “about” paragraph

While you plan for what to include in your website footer, make sure to plan a brief paragraph about yourself. Everyone likes talking about themselves, but like your “About” page content, this isn’t a purely narcissistic task. This paragraph, which we usually refer to as an SEO paragraph, should be short and sweet, no need for anything more than a couple sentences, and should be loaded with as much keyword rich content that you can (naturally!) fit in there.

This SEO paragraph serves a couple of important purposes. Aside from simply providing a bite-sized summary of who you are, what you do, and what you are about, if the name didn’t give it away already, this paragraph can give a nice boost to search engine optimization for your site. This little paragraph and all the relevant keywords you use in it will show up on every page of your website, padding your overall keyword count, and helping you give Google something to notice.

DON’T: Crowd the footer

Your website’s footer doesn’t have to be microscopic. It’s a very important, albeit often under-looked, part of your website’s design and should be given ample room. That said, you should absolutely not try to over-stuff your footer like a Thanksgiving turkey just because you can. My best piece of advice: there are lots of things that can naturally find a home in the footer (we will get into a couple more of those here in a second) but you should prioritize what the essentials are.

When you crowd your footer up with lots of junk, it isn’t just going to look unsightly and cramped, especially on the small screen of a mobile device. It will also serve to just give your visitors more, often redundant, options. The more options you give someone, the less likely they are to make a choice. Like your primary call to action (the first thing a visitor sees), your footer (the last thing they see) needs to be focused. Don’t be afraid to use the space, just use it wisely.

DO: Link to important pages and additional information

One of the best uses for the footer is to reiterate important links that the average visitor will be most interested in so that once they have worked their way down a page they don’t have to scroll all the way back up to find them. These may be links to any product pages you have, an online shopping cart, or a membership login portal. Since these are pages that are likely going to result in action being taken, that alone should necessitate a second chance to find.

Certain information may be important for a visitor, but it may not necessarily be information that needs to be linked from a primary navigation. These kinds of links make a lot of sense in a footer. What kind of information is that exactly? If your site requires you to share a privacy policy or a terms of use listing, the footer is a very visible yet out of the way location that can be easily jumped over by those that don’t need them but also easily found by those that do. The footer is also a good place for any copyright claims, should that be necessary as well.

DON’T: Just slap a footer on

Because it is relegated to the bottom of your website, it is easy to overlook a footer. But, do so at your own risk. As inconspicuous as it may be, a footer is an integral part of your web design and should not be ignored, skipped over, or otherwise slapped on at the end. What your footer looks like and what needs to go in it should be part of the planning process of the web design.

Why the fuss over such a small part of your website? This ribbon is going to appear on every single page of your website. So naturally, it needs to seamlessly fit in with the overall layout and design of the homepage and each landing page and blog post.

Hope my little guide of what and what not to put into your website’s footer is helpful. But for some, its too late to head my advice. Fortunately, a little while back Peter took a look at some truly heinous footers and gave them a little polish!