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Interlinking of Related Sites
The big boys do it - why not me?
King of Bling




msg:426965
 10:47 pm on Jul 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Where is the boundary for interlinking of related sites?

Why do I ask? Most of my colleagues agree that one should not interlink their own sites - even when it makes sense from the user's perspective. For some reason, there is a stigma that the SEs may frown upon networks run by the same person/company. Do you believe this to be true?

I bring this up because I was at an IAC site (CitySearch) and they had listed all of their related - and non-related - websites in the footer. They seemed not to be suffering any ill-affect by this interlinking (and all had solid PR8's to boot). Why should I worry about doing the same - especially if it benefits my users? Can anyone present a solid argument for me not to engage in this seemingly logical approach to interlinking?

What's from stopping me from interlinking all of my Florida Keys websites... the Boogeyman?

 

martinibuster




msg:426966
 3:21 am on Jul 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Jupiter Media is big into interlinking their sites, too. But they don't appear to be 100% interlinking to 100% of everything in their network. I haven't looked at it closely, but from what I recall it looks like they've interlinked their sites in a manner that makes sense to the user. It made sense to me while cruising through their IT sites at one point or another.

Funny you bring this topic up, KOB, because I was just discussing it with a colleague. I told him that I was of the opinion that this was a bit overblown, that within reason it's a legitimate thing to do if it makes sense to the user.

Naturally if you have a bunch of sites with the exact same content, interlinking is not a smart idea, nor is depending on the network more than outside IBLs a smart idea either.

I'm not sure if the average webmaster knows the point where the white line turns gray, as evidenced by the many who discover this board researching why the lights went out on their network.

caveman




msg:426967
 4:56 am on Jul 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

[webmasterworld.com...]

graywolf




msg:426968
 5:00 am on Jul 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

One of things I've noticed is if you use "presell pages" instead of sitewide links to interconnect, G will list the most "trusted/clean" site and omit the others. A non existant issues as far as the other SE are concerned.

glengara




msg:426969
 6:04 pm on Jul 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

*this was a bit overblown, that within reason it's a legitimate thing to do if it makes sense to the user.*

You're probably right, which makes the boundary harder to ID ;-)

Also, a couple of the well used examples pre-date G AFAIK, so could hardly be accused of doing it to "increase rankings, or PR" ;-)

The boundary between safety and a "links scheme designed..." is a bit of a movable feast, I'm afraid....

King of Bling




msg:426970
 11:42 pm on Jul 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ok, I am wearing my 'Wonder Twins' ring, tin hat, and kevlar vest. I am going to do it. Hey, my users may actually benefit from this practice.

IMHO, this is a SE issue, not a marketer's. I am not spamming thee. If there's collateral damage/benefit.. I guess it's for the SE gods to sort out.

Caveman - thanks for that link, it was spot on.

Anyone else got an opinion?

tedster




msg:426971
 4:40 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have clients who operate many websites for different aspects of what they do. I've never even suggested that they avoid all interlinking - it would make NO sense for their users, just as trying to accommodate all their information on one domain would make little sense either.

However, even though I agree there is no taboo, I also don't use run-of-site very much in these "networks". What little of that extreme cross-linking there is we've integrated into the page template in a logical way for the user. Each domain has a targeted purpose and specific market -- and we work hard keep the integrity of that focus.

Some of these domains have attracted thousands of real, spontaneously given links (no, not scrapers). And the more of this "natural" linking" I see, the less I worry about the interlinking taboo for that particular domain. So far, many years down the road, there has been no obvious trouble from G or any search engine. As a matter of fact, we struggle more with getting rankings for the domain that tries to stand completely on its own.

I think problems can come up when almost all the inbound links are exclusively from within the family of websites.

People who are running long term, branded web businesses should not get confused by the discoveries of the high-risk, disposable domain style marketers. Those are two different games and need to be differentiated.

janethuggard




msg:426972
 5:13 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

"For some reason, there is a stigma that the SEs may frown upon networks run by the same person/company. Do you believe this to be true?"

No, it is absolutely not true. My network is proof of it. At one time I designed all clients sites on the same server, and had 91 sites of my own, for a total of several hundreds sites. I linked to all of them, and all of them linked to one, some two, of my sites. It had no effect at all on any of us.

In fact....

One site, that has virtually no ranking, because it has virtually no keywords, was linked to by every one of those several hundreds sites, and it has the highest PR of them all. I never really even seo the site, because we had a trading partner that provided more than enough business, and we didn't want any engine traffic. It was there just to present our packages to the trading partner's clients.

Still... it ranked for keywords anyway...and still does. All the sites do.

I too have heard this server penalty rumor, and it always gives me a chuckle. If that was true...then the biggest design companys on the web, who have their linked logo on every site they build, would be giving the kiss of dealth, seo wise, to every site they build, because they all use one server, and only one server. If you can have 300 sites on one server, and rank them all, and keep them all ranked, for years, there is no way there could be a server penalty.

It would also mean every ebay store, every yahoo store, every host's store system... would also be penalized, and we know that is not true.

joeduck




msg:426973
 6:26 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Where is the boundary for interlinking of related sites?

Based on input from Google at the recent WebmasterWorld conference I'm confident they'd say it's fine to link if it helps the user, and perhaps add "would you do this linking if there was NO effect on your search rankings?".

That said I think "user friendly" is very subjective and I think that even logical on topic cross linking, especially if it's a large number of links, can cause ranking problems depending on how Google assigns values and relevance to the sites and links.

martinibuster




msg:426974
 6:34 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't want the wrong message to be sent however, and want it to be clear that cross-linking has been known to cause websites to rank poorly. It has been happening for years now.

Because it is well known that cross-linking can lead to bad ranking, many webmasters are scared to death about linking together websites that are under the same ownership or stewardship.

But as KOB said, "The big boys do it - why not me?"

So why not?
Has the danger from cross-linking been overstated?

I say probably, yeah.

SlyOldDog




msg:426975
 6:43 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have done it and paid the price. Someone must have done a spam report for one of the sites and G took the whole lot down. All they had to do was follow the links to see all the sites.

Let me stress these were only links from the index pages and there were maybe 5 sites in the network - all on different topics.

I can only speculate but I think the reason G took the network down was we had another big site covering all the topics showing up on the same serps as these smaller sites. I think it was a minor offense but we got a big slap.

Voxman




msg:426976
 7:58 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

*this was a bit overblown, that within reason it's a legitimate thing to do if it makes sense to the user.*

I hope it's true because we do it and will continue to do it. We build our sites from 1998 to interlink for a reason. Not to fool the engines but to promote similar but different products to our surfers. And it works for us. We've suffered no ill effect but we don't go crazy with it either like linking just for the sake of it. Everything has to make sense.. I think the engines don't automatically punish you unless you are getting really stupid about it

Just my opinion

Skylo




msg:426977
 8:53 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

We have always linked to our other sites in the footer of our main site but only so that the user knows that they may go to one of other sites.
We payed the price by interlinking our sites within page content and found that our enquiry numbers dropped slightly, but the really worrying thing was that the actual enquirys became less qualified as we were now confusing users.

Could interlinking get your site banned? I don't know as this has never happened to me but i will say that if your other sites are of the same theme but content is totally different(maybe the smaller site deals with a niche within your sites theme)then i think all will be good

So i would say interlinking is good and okay(in moderation) but like you said, usability can become terribly affected if one does not link smartly.

shri




msg:426978
 11:09 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Tedster >> And the more of this "natural" linking" I see, the less I worry about the interlinking taboo for that particular domain.

As far as I can tell, as long as the individual domains have quality inbounds and we're talking a moderate number (i've gone to 4), I have not seen problems.

In our case, each domain has a DMOZ listing or two, several hundred to dozens of independant quality inbounds. The footer of all these four domains has something like

Other Sites: Domain1.Com ¦¦ Domain2.Com ¦¦ Domain3.Com

One of the domains has the logos of the other three domains in its side navigation bar with links inbound.

We've not tried this in any high risk / visibility areas.

John_1976




msg:426979
 12:10 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google clearly states that certain actions such as buying or selling links to increase a site's Page Rank value can result in penalization.

Therefore if I interlink all my (related genera) sites on each of their respective index pages, what is stopping Google thinking that these links have been bought?

Donít tell me Google is smart enough to check whois to see if each domain is owned by the same owner, or whether or not using the same IP band, or shared hosting plays any part.

janethuggard




msg:426980
 12:20 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I believe that rule is there so if comes to their attention, via complaint... they can enforce it. They can not program for it, otherwise it rules out almost the web. As I said, with the case of website designers linked logos, on all the same server. To a bot, if programmed for, it might look like a 'spam network'.

An example of such would be selling links that would be placed on a PR 8 site on ebay. If somebody complains, they will manually 'hide' that site. It is done on a case by case basis, not programmed.

glengara




msg:426981
 12:29 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'd speculate that using anchor text for the links would also increase the risk of the pattern being seen as "unfriendly".

janethuggard




msg:426982
 12:30 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Based on input from Google at the recent WebmasterWorld conference I'm confident they'd say it's fine to link if it helps the user, and perhaps add "would you do this linking if there was NO effect on your search rankings?".

We never did it for seo. We always did it to move the visitor to things he was looking for, on partner sites. As a matter of a fact, the origin of doing it, was to drive traffic to sites we designed that were not getting any engine traffic yet, because they were new. Back when it might take 4-6 months to get into Alta Vista, and Alta Vista was God. It was the links from others that gave those sites their start.

If you read a very interesting article by the Google CEO, you will see their take on it. I can't link you to it, because I don't remember where I found it, but I'm sure a search for it will yield it.

He says, their take on the web and promotion is you develope the site, develope the link network, then you get your search engine ranking. Cart before the horse. Not, the reverse. That is the reason for the sandbox. You become popular, then Google will send you traffic. Popularity, as we all know, is the sum of inbound links, plus traffic. So, there are two ways to achieve the goal.

Crush




msg:426983
 2:21 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Like SlyOldDog said we had a network taken down cause of some cry baby did not like us having 2 sets of sites in the SERPS. Different content same stuff,so it was a possibly manual penalty.

We have a situation now where we are married to a domain but the site is part of our company which has grown to include many cities. We made landing pages on one site so as not to cross link from every page even though it made sense.

Better not to play the cross linking game unless you are ready for the consequences.

janethuggard




msg:426984
 3:08 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

We are currently using internal linking that is not accessible to engines. I switched to this within the last couple months. It is working well, and has actually helped us increase our seo of the pages, by removing the non-related keyword links that had previously reduced our percentage of kw density. It reduced our links from around 100 a page, to under 50.

While most of the millions of other users on our system would consider this a handicap, as it removes those links that can be indexed and give more seo, I have turned it into a major seo element, and made it work for me, not against me.

That type of navigation could be used to link from every page in your network, to all other sites in the network, without risking a manual spam penalty. Since it would give you no extra search engine ranking, is merely there for visitors, it would work out well for those who want to connect their network, but don't need to use it for ranking for other sites.

The mistake webmasters make is using their site wide internal links for seo. If you seo the page properly, you don't need those site wide internal links on every page indexed by the engines. You just need to create a clear path for the bot to index every page.

I use one set of site wide links, one page only, and that is it. All other links are subnav, links within a specific category to more pages of similar. This would be useful to those who want to link to all their network sites, on every page, without appearing to spam the engines.

The downside...

The downside to my navigation... it's in the header section of my code. This keeps me from using it more than once on a page. I would have liked to use it 3 times on the page, to include my links within my network, but in testing, it took up too much space in the top of my page html, thereby pushing my major keywords further down in the code, and giving them less importance. So, I used it for my extensive site wide navigational system only. That did the most amount of good for us seo wise, and gave us more room to get the visitor around the site, without keyword dilution.

wingslevel




msg:426985
 4:08 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Another thing to consider is; if you link between sites, what will the se benefit be?

I have an interesting example. I launched a new site and linked to it from the home page of a pr5 site (1 of only 10 links on that page). Google immediately guessed a pr 4. Next time google updated pr it went to a 2. During all of this time I added no links to the site and I do not believe we generated any naturally.

I host both of the sites, they are in the same ip range, and the same owner is listed in whois for each. The site content is quite different, but distantly related.

Given all of this, it seems that google maybe "filtering" or somehow downgrading the pr value passed between related sites.

Crush




msg:426986
 4:12 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

pr means diddly squat. I got a site with 4000 links pointing at it, most of them different c class ip's. Still pr 4 but the puppy ranks nicely.

[edited by: martinibuster at 5:24 pm (utc) on July 11, 2005]
[edit reason] spelling [/edit]

Kirby




msg:426987
 5:00 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

But as KOB said, "The big boys do it - why not me?"

So why not?

Perhaps in part because they are the big boys. One would expect to see IAC's entities interlinked. It makes perfect sense. Also keep in mind that many of these entities, like lendingtree and realestate.com, were previously independent and since acquired and added to the family. So why should they get banned/penalized because the parent company wants to advertise? IMO IAC would do this regardless of PR and thus pass at least one of Google's litmus tests.

>many are pr8

Yep, but that PR8 isnt giving them the rankings in the real estate and lending niches like some would expect. So maybe what we get with a legitimate site/network crosslinking is limited credit for X number of links from sites and/or their associated networks.

IMO this relates to MB's thread about the myth of penalties [webmasterworld.com].


Red_Eagle




msg:426988
 5:11 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

SE spammers rely on interlinking to get their rankings. This means heavy interlinking over hundreds of domains.

If all of your links come from your own sites you are going to have problems.

I was watching one competitor that had a spam site. He had links to his other sites in the footer of each page & was ranking very well for all the keywords. Guess what, those sites aren't ranking for anything right now.

The closer to "SE spam" you move in your SEO techniques the greater you increase your risk of getting penalized or even banned. You weigh the risks & rewards out for yourself.

Does interlinking benefit you? In the short term, yes.

Silicon




msg:426989
 5:23 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

There is a such thing as a "white list". Those on it can do heavy cross linking etc those that are not are going to get a penalty. Yahoo and Google both evoke this penalty and list but not sure about MSN. Don't ask me for proof of this because I don't have any except for experiences on both sides.

glengara




msg:426990
 5:41 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

As Red-Eagle suggests, cross-linking on its own is rarely a punished offence, but is invariably part of the mix in a linkage pattern "gone bad".

cayleyv




msg:426991
 5:57 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

For most people, linking is like Alternative Medicine. They think it works, have heard a lot about it, and are eager to try it.

The key is relevance and moderation. As in alternative medicine, if you are feeling ok, its probably not a good idea to go to china and become a monk - this is extreme.

Linewise, linking 50 similar websites on every page is extreme. Linking RELATED and COMPLIMENTARY websites on every page is fine - i have seen many examples of excellent complimentary link exchanges.

mazdamx




msg:426992
 6:03 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

This post is really interesting, but I have one question: if you link to sites that do not relate to your content, does google penalize you? Do they apply pagerank to your site for the incoming link?

I have heard that google will grade the relavence of the sites content that is linking to you, is that true?

caveman




msg:426993
 6:30 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Certainly there are plenty of examples of excessive use of cross links getting sites in trouble. But there are also examples of intelligent, user oriented cross links being no issue with one or more of the big SE's. Plus, while hand checks are not too common, we're told, one never knows when it might be the algo, or some spam report that's doing in cross linked sites.

SOD, in all likelihood, it was not that your five site mini net was cross linked from the index pages, but that those five sites covered the same topic as your larger site, and the mini-net cross-links just made the dup(?) sites all easy to find. But their issue was probably duplication, don't you think?

It raises a point that may be worth noting however. I think sometimes people put the loss of interlinked sites down to cross linking, even if the cross-linking is done minimally, when in fact those who are cross-linking networks of sites, in some cases, are also doing other things that are really the problem. The cross links, as in SOD's case, just make finding the 'culprits' easier. If that makes sense.

Spannerworks




msg:426994
 8:27 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

Personally, I believe they used to penalise cross-linking a few years ago because they couldn't exclude them from the calculations.

If you can devalue/exclude these (Islands), why would you bother with punishment? For fun?

This 52 message thread spans 2 pages: 52 ( [1] 2 > >
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