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Cross linking without duplicate content
Anyone see a problem?

 1:50 pm on Jun 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone.

Heres the scenario:

2 sites with no duplicate content

Site A has a link to site B on every page as part of it's navigation (Site B is related)

Site B has a link to site A on every page (a 'this site is part of style thing)

Anyone see a problem with that?

Much obliged ;)




 7:42 pm on Jun 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Not the developer site. The client has 2 sites: one on two themes and one product specific.

I want to incease page rank on the themes site but also to add value to the user. The sites and subject matter are related so they should be linked.

So the discussion is about how to achieve thos goals without being penalized.




 9:49 am on Jun 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

> ciml, I'm still confused. As in Nick's post 17, it is about PR.

Yes, but not about getting more PR. The total PageRank in the two sites we're considering wouldn't change much (or maybe at all) from these different types of link relationships.

The concentration of PageRank can of course be altered, and re-reading Nick's post 17 he does want siteA to have as much PR as possible. Linking back from every page in SiteB can help, but I suggest not as much as people might think.

I want to incease page rank on the themes site but also to add value to the user. The sites and subject matter are related so they should be linked.

As the product site is new, it won't help PR in any substantial way. If it gets good links, though, both sites can benefit.

> So the discussion is about how to achieve thos goals without being penalized.

My approach is outlined in Search Engine Theme Pyramids and Google [webmasterworld.com], which does have a paragraph about using extra domains.


 10:22 am on Jun 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Actually the product site is old but has a dismal page rank. I'm re-building it and the new general site as part of his companies expansion/growth.

But what you said still counts as the page rank is so poor.



 10:44 am on Jun 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

My two sites (one has my 630 book reviews, one has everything else) are pretty heavily interlinked - a "branding/contact" link from every review to my home page, plus links to relevant reviews from my other pages. There's no sign of Google having any problem with that - and I hope there never is! - but then both sites are so heavily linked to externally as to make internal links relatively insignificant.

Is there any advantage to using multiple domains? I have two because I wanted one in .au and one outside, though it's hard to know if that has much effect, since there's no Australian Google yet.


 11:13 am on Jun 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Danny, if Google does start an Australian version and you're not hosted on an Australian IP then I'd expect the .au to be needed to be in the local version.

Otherwise, I don't believe in multi domains helping much in themselves (although plenty of people do). If it helps you to get more links, then they will certainly help.

More than two domains, and cross linking penalty should be considered.


 12:16 pm on Jun 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

CIML, I'm hosted with pair in Pittsburgh, so I probably do need the .au domain. I wonder though if Google takes links into account when deciding what should go in regional indices - do .com sites with a disproportionate number of links from .uk sites make it into the UK search?


 12:32 pm on Jun 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

> I wonder though if Google takes links into account when deciding what should go in regional indices

No. This is one of the aspects of Google that I find surprising.


 7:05 pm on Jun 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

Site A has a link to site B on every page as part of it's navigation (Site B is related)

Site B has a link to site A on every page (a 'this site is part of style thing)

Anyone see a problem with that?

No dupe content? Nothing "fishy" about it?

no problem.

However, if it is keyword.com vs. dashed-keyword.com vs keyword-dashed.com.

I wouldn't do it. Those are clearly promotion oriented. Especially if the whois matches...


 6:07 pm on Jul 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Perhaps a stupid question. If so please excuse me....

Can the cross-linking penalty apply to the linking inside a single website?

Say I have a 4,000 page site. The pages are clustered in the main direcory and in subdirectories. I have links from every page to the index pages and to several significant pages in each directory/subdirectory.

Is this OK? Thanks.


 6:31 pm on Jul 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

I noticed the mention of having the same WHOIS info. Should I try to have my accounts in WHOIS be different if I want to prevent my links from being viewed as nepotistic?


 6:52 pm on Jul 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

If the links are in one fully qualified domain (i.e. www.example.com is different from www2.example.com), then no one seems to think that there's a problem. Hidden text, 1x1 pixel GIFs, duplicates, etc. can still get you in trouble, but the "cross linking penalty" that many of us believe in doesn't seem to apply.

People often talk about WHOIS information and IP addresses, after experience with at least one other search engine. In my opinion, if you do something to upset Google then having different IP addresses or WHOIS information is no protection from Google penalties. We've seen two separate kinds of automatic PageRank penalties at dmoz.org categories; one due to a poison word, the other due to linking to bad neighbourhoods. If dmoz.org can get an automatic PageRank penalty, then our sites can get it too.


 7:22 pm on Jul 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

ciml, thanks for the reply. However, I am more interested in NOT doing anything to tip google off to cross linking, but then have them link my pages simply as a result of similar WHOIS listings.


 10:05 am on Jul 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

For what it's worth i have a 500+ page website crosslinked to 4 other keyword-rich domain names (each consisting of only 2 web pages). each domain name contains unique content. my large website is ranked #1 with google out of 2.2 Million web pages. So how does cross-linking have a detrimental affect on ranking. I guess you could say it's only a matter of time but i've been in this position for nearly 2 years now.


 7:02 am on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi, This is a great thread. I've been looking for this info for a while. I suppose I should have searched site.

As heini and Nick said, it's not about getting more PR. Heavy cross linking is, in my opinion, a poor use of PageRank.

A. Why? If its not done for page rank does it hurt it?
B. I currently use it for relevance. Each page with an additional link provides an opportunity to add anchor text, alt text, surrounding text, <h1>, content,<Title> and all those things mentioned in the Google top 100, another great thread. I would like to be able to match these links to pages with the corresponding content on the second site but that would be way too risky. Personnally, I think Pr0 for cross linking would be a bit severe, since that would inhibit the natural navigation of the web. Google will probably just get good at ignoring the links.


 7:39 am on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Why not, not cross link, I mean if site A has links to relevant content on site B... just don't link site B back to A to much...



 9:17 pm on Sep 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't see why cross-linking should be seen as a "bad" thing. The large portals like Yahoo, Lycos, AltaVista often cross link to each other and to their foreign versions. Cross-linking is useful to the user who needs the cross-link for simple navigation. I set up a real estate network serving many cities. Each site has unique content and each page is linked to the main pages of all the other sites. This helps the users find the area of real estate which interests them. Suddenly this cross-linking penality will prevent me from providing this simple navigation.

Is there a way to kept the navigation and the benefit that the greater number of links could mean for PR?


 6:32 am on Oct 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Ahhh...this thread really hits home :)

I started a sort of related thread regarding my situation...rather than consume board space repeating, I'll try posting my first link here at WW ...


Well, thought I understood the hub/spokes concept in this thread...so I've pulled all my sites that still have PR out of my own bad neighborhood. Again, most of these sites are PR1-PR3...most are in Yahoo and many are in DMOZ. The newest site is showing grey PR, I'm hoping this is because Google just hasn't spidered it yet. GB is showing up in the server logs since the 1st, but no PR. This site was just picked up by Yahoo about 2 weeks ago...and is awaiting DMOZ approval. Think this site is in trouble too? Gotta ask since I've read more than one interpretation of the grey PR.

Something I read in another forum today has made me think I missed the boat in my interpretation of the hub/spokes concept. What I did was to link the 'good' sites to a central links page on one site (this one has a PR3). All the remaining good sites link to that individual page from every page on each site with a keyword text link. That page then links back to the main index page of each site.

This is not necessarily done for PR (though a bump would be nice :) )...this is also a way of keeping the surfer within my own network of sites...hopefully, until he or she finds something he/she would like to purchase :)

Earlier today in another forum, I read that you should never link back to the sites linking to you. Also, that I sould be masking my Whois info so Google can't tell I own all these sites...and that I should host the sites on multiple servers so they dont' show the same DNS info...Yikes!

As explained in the other thread...all these sites are housed on 2 dedicated servers...all with unique ips. And all these sites are unique...no duplicated content. Admittedly, some of them are templates to an extent, but all are unique sites.

So, to my questions...

Did I totally miss the bus on the hub/spokes concept? Given the description above of how I'm now linking the sites.

And, does Google really care if I own all the sites? Especially given that they are all unique.

I'm about to add 30 more sites to the mix...I really need to get this right since I've already lost 22 domains as far as Google is concerned. And on this subject, any consensus on whether I should block Googlebot via robots.txt for a few months from the bad sites? Then after 90 days or so, put up one link to that hub and see if Google like em again?

Sorry for the long post folks...if you've read this far...Thank You!

And of course, any and all suggestions/advice is greatly appreciated :)


 6:34 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Boy I am lost on this thread, so Does or does not Google look at Who Is info and then send out the dogs?

Can a site have all pages with a navigation bar or footer that all have the same thing if it does include a link?



 5:17 pm on Jan 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I finally had time to sit down with this excellent discussion.

As far as I can tell from Google's listings up to now, a hub can have lots of spokes, but the spokes shouldn't all link up - ciml

This seems like a real important statement but Iím not sure I understand your position clearly. I think all the spokes should link home, whether as the individual spoke linking to itís own home or the individual spokes to the hub. I also believe in a true hub the main hub should link to all the spokes. It becomes a matter then of how to do this and I see that as unique to each hub. The next level is linking the separate spokes then to each other and if thatís what you meant ciml by ďbut the spokes shouldn't all link upĒ then I couldnít agree more.

Linking up a hub should be fairly straightforward, in most instances and under most conditions. Linking the spokes though to each other is where you need not a pattern but a strategy.

Linking from every page of one site to another site? Wouldn't that stick out? .- heini

That is exactly where we all want to be careful and the core of where I see the whole hub plan particularly die out. A good hub plan for cross/interlinking would not include linking ďevery page of one site to another siteĒÖ Now, like Brett goes on to cover in message #38, under certain conditions this can be ok and work, although Iím not sure itís necessary or even beneficial.

If you are linking for the visitors though there are ways to do this linking and not take huge risks with Google. See Lisaís comments for ideas.

to interlink the sites, but also to develop the sites independently.- heini

By independently developing your separate sites I believe you lessen your risks and agree itís an excellent strategy when any form of interlinking is taking place.

I somehow still visualize the whole problem as maps of the web, where isolated closed rings of sites are easily recognizable. .- heini

I think that is a really good way to look at it. Run a search for closed rings, closed loops, and closed circles where weíve discussed these concerns. I think we have talked about web mapping and vectors, related search terms.

Every hub and spoke relationship Iíve seen has no PR problem from it - ciml

Unfortunately I have watched some of them strangle themselves out and take down linking partners with them. In fact itís going on in two industries Iím watching right now. The ripple effect is incredible.
Thatís where I want to warn most people, in making decisions about the sites/hubs they link into. I think linking into a hub can really benefit sites, in fact on the whole I encourage it, especially when the main hub itself is well structured, on theme and providing in addition to links some relevant content.

heavy cross linking between just two fully qualified domains isn't a problem - ciml

I agree. I myself am heavily linked to a sister site and have quite successfully practiced this for years in one form or another. Two important points for me though is 1) heavily linked for me does not mean every page linked to every page, and 2) this discussion has moved from linking two sites to issues regarding hubs and what works for one will not necessarily work for the other.

I remember a member asking in reference to another discussion, where the point is that something moves from beneficial to at risk. Thatís a question I believe we need to continue to ask ourselves.

KanukBoy, <aside>welcome KanukBoy</aside> brings up an interesting point about internal linking and if you can get into trouble. I think itís less a problem of getting into trouble and more a case of maximizing on your potential opportunities. Itís first about architecture and setting the foundation. Itís also about design, the visitors experience and ease of navigation. What you briefly describe with your question doesnít set off alarms for me.

the "cross linking penalty" that many of us believe in doesn't seem to apply. - ciml

Between two unique sites given the conditions discussed here, I agree.

Iím actually glad I havenít responded until now although I wished weíd somehow picked up on the post by incywincy, allanp73, MrYum, and Hollywood. It looks like you were all left hanging. Iíd like to take some time to reflect before responding to your posts.


 7:38 pm on Jan 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

It's worth noting that this thread goes back to June 2002. That said, I can't think of huge changes (unlike the end of 2001).

paynt, the hub and spoke comment was about the safety of cross linking. Most universities, governments and large corporations link from the hub to each spoke, and from each spoke back to the hub. This didn't seem to be the focus of Google's Winter 2001 mass linking penalty and I don't think it ever would be.

On the other hand, there was a fashion for creating a bunch of domains and linking each to all of the others. This can create the unfortunate position of a bypassing Google's results clustering (one or two URLs per domain) and has widely been called 'domain spamming'. Anyway, for whatever reason, the dreaded PR0 penalties of late 2001 were often associated with this type of cross linking.

> Unfortunately I have watched some of them strangle themselves out and take down linking partners with them.

Well, there have been problems for one or two well known hubs over the last year, but in those cases it seemed that a decision was made at human level. This is different from the automatic penalties which we all seem pretty sure were due to cross linking.

Linking to a banned or severely penalised site was (and IMO is) enough to get a penalty. I agree about being careful about which sites/hubs people link into, but the chance of someone picking up a penalty from a site that they linked to for non-SEO reasons is very small. The reason, IMO, that we had a bunch of affected people here is that people with some SEO knowledge are likely to seek out and eat the poisoned fruit.

> Linking the spokes though to each other is where you need not a pattern but a strategy.

I am very intrigued by this, could you elaborate?


 8:32 pm on Jan 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

About crosslinking.

I have three middle sized Web sites, all about the same subject but each site in different language.

Every page of a site links to the home page of the two other language versions.

May this cause a penalty?


 8:35 pm on Jan 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I am totally confused at this point.

What is the bottom line? IF I have three 5-7 page sites that are all unique and interlinked, is it bad or good?


 12:31 pm on Jan 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

NewAtThis and needsomehelp, it would be dangerous to give categorical answers for those questions. Honestly, the only thing to do is read threads like this one closely and form your own opinion.

Also, the 'cross linking penalty' affected large numbers of sites last Winter, and very suddenly. Some aspects of Google such as PageRank and some other ranking factors work in a very consistent way and can be subject to analysis over a period of time, but penalties are purposely a moving target.

I don't think that Google are about to bring in a filter to discount all backlinks on the basis of just three interlinked domains, but I can't know that this won't be part of their list next month, or the month after.


 3:37 pm on Jan 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Some simplified remarks and added definitions:

1.Hubs - are sites linking out to authoritative sites (directories are examples of hubs)
2.Authorities - are sites receiving a lot of external inbound links from independent sites
Communities - are sites reciprocating links
Conglomorates - are sites with heavy cross-linking

So where does cross-linking fit?

Cross-linking within a site should be no problem, in excess; you might be diluting both the visitorís attention as well as evening out Pagerank, though.

It is heavy cross-linking within separate domains that could get tricky, as the January 2002 PR0 penalty showed.

There are few reasons heavy cross-linking between different domains would follow a natural pattern IMO:

A. Heavy interlinking within separate language/county tld. domains of the same site/owner, is the one I can think of, but then the domain name and owner is often the same and not hidden or masked. (mysite.com, mysite.de etc, such as multi-national conglomerates)

B. Another is interlinking within sub domains, because it can be easier administratively to handle all these pages in different subs. (mysite.com, shopping.mysite.com etc)

Google already seems to handle interlinking of sub domains as site-internal interlinking [webmasterworld.com].
I would not be surprised if it does similarly with A or that there is only so much ďyou can give, from one domain to the otherĒ.

Moderate interlinking and reciprocal linking within separate domains can be very natural;

Lets say seven independent domains on anti-smoking all link towards each other. They are all fighting for the same cause. Nothing unnatural here. They would probably all show separate addresses, Whois info and what is more important, also earn their fair share of independent, external inbound links.

The danger of heavy interlinking with separate domains, is that it can go beyond the natural into excess, purely for reasons of trying to rank better or occupying more than two places in the Google results.

Hundreds of mini-domains, all heavily interlinked (often in hidden frames), hiding physical contact addresses, all using the same anchortext per linkage to domain, is an example.

Same goes for heavy reciprocal interlinking. Is it natural if 80% of my inbound external links are reciprocated? It could be, community wise, but it doesn't look strikingly authoritative, nor does it seem to offer original hub content.

Google has done a good job of generating interlinking paranoia. As of yet, a medium job in automatically neutralising any beneficial ranking effects of excessive interlinking.

I think every webmaster knows what is a natural ratio of interlinking.


 3:41 pm on Jan 25, 2003 (gmt 0)


Been seeing this thread pop up over the past day or two and only just realized that I started it! - Guess I'd better start reading it huh? ;)



 4:58 pm on Jan 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Interlinking is not only natural but necessary as your site gets larger. Every site, as it gets larger, needs a 'directory' type structure to help users navigate and associate huge amounts of information. Sites, like real stores that are not organized well, are difficult to use.

The problem appears to me to be that the physical implementation and the logical implementation are not utilized properly. The logical implementation is how the user navigates your site. How information is related and is it easily obtained. The physical implementation is related to SE type things like page rank, meta tags, sub-domains and sub-directories. Trying to marry these two appears to be where the failures come in.

After years of trial and error, I have put together a blueprint of how larger sites can effectively marry the physical and logical implementations. We have achieved phenomenal success with this technique and I am tempted to post it sometime. I found Bret's 12 step process on Google to be very similar to what I have learned over the years and recommend it to anyone looking for guidance.

What I think would be fun for all is blueprint of how to build small, medium and large sites. Highlighting the logical navigation for users and the physical implementation that could work well for SE's.


 5:13 pm on Jan 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ok I just sat down and read the whole thread and I am a little confused. Please can someone tell me if they personaly think this kind of situation would be ok:

Main site company.com also builds and owns several sites related to their industry but all unique from each other:


Now the website Company.com has sections about these topics but only a short amount - for detailed info it is linked to topic1.com.

Now the problem (in my understanding) is when topic1.com starts to link back to comany.com?

What is the best way to handle linking several very unique websites?


 5:44 pm on Jan 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

There are no hard and fast rules because your details may be different. But linking sites together is not a problem.

We currently have around 1400 sites/sub-sites linked together, consisting of over 20K pages, all owned by the company. We have x-linked them in a fashion that is natural for the user without any considerations for page rank. There is no attempt to deceive or hide this because what the users see is what the SE's see. The key is we have strict guidelines on how they are linked and only entry points are indexed.

Mark Candiotti

 5:53 pm on Jan 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Here's a very simple situation:

50 unique sites each 20-30 pages, each covering a unique area or product - whatever. No authority relationship involved, i.e. each site is equally "important". On the bottom of each home page, I provide links to all 49 other sites - that's it, save for some normal, safe internal linking. Additionally, a few of these sites (as they're starting out) have external links to them, so we hope we avoid the closed circle idea. Is this going to be a problem? I'm having trouble deciphering that from the more hub/spoke oriented discussion bits above. Thanks



 6:24 pm on Jan 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think you would have a problem because what you are saying is that every one of those 50 pages is related to the other. That means that a person that lands on one page will logical think of 50 other pages they will want to be on. I think that is too much information for most people. The average person can only handle 3 to 7 pieces of information. That is probably the limit of links I would put on any one page of information

To use an example lets take 'hammers' for an online hardware store. The hardware store has tens of thousands of items in thousands of categories. Is every category related to every other category, I don't think so. But here's an outline of what people expect be able to find.

Any one brand of hammer
Category called hammers
Links of related categories that go with hammers
Group that relates all similar categories (tools)
Company or store name. (your store name)

Does that help?


 8:39 pm on Jan 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Same goes for heavy reciprocal interlinking. Is it natural if 80% of my inbound external links are reciprocated? It could be, community wise, but it doesn't look strikingly authoritative, nor does it seem to offer original hub content.- vitaplease

That would certainly be true for me if I didnít put the time I do into the planning phase, developing a strategy. I have no problem creating hubs, with heavy reciprocal interlinking utilizing subdomains/canonicals for the most part as well as separate complimentary domains. Itís just a question of structure, which I base for the most part on themes backed up with what I consider audience.

What I donít see in this comment vitaplease is the connection youíve made here between reciprocal and authoritative inter and/or cross - linking and a hubís original content.

This is an excellent post vitaplease and I appreciate how well you've explained yourself.

I remember my Queen Spam cloaking days and those ugly long lists of keyword links to dummy sites set up to just mess around with linking. They worked then and I run into them still on one level or another so I know they are even still working today. Iím really glad when those drop in importance because those are the examples of what vitaplease is I think talking about hubs that donít offer original content.

What vitaplease goes on to describe, including ďHundreds of mini-domains, all heavily interlinked (often in hidden frames), hiding physical contact addresses, all using the same anchortext per linkage to domainĒ, while they may continue to work as I mentioned, on one level or another, what I want to know is why people continue to build them? For me itís not only risky if not implemented correctly but whatís the point? Is the conversion better? Are we only talking here then the drive to dominate, regardless of conversion? Thatís what drove me years ago, ranking and traffic. We were paid for that and it seemed to be what people thought they wanted or we convinced them they wanted.

Look at the question by needsomehelp.

What is the bottom line? IF I have three 5-7 page sites that are all unique and interlinked, is it bad or good?

I wish there were a simple answer to that. I stand by my belief that we have to take it back to what the plan is for the site, what the industry within your theme is doing and how your competitors are handling their architecture through promotion practices. Those and many other variables must be considered to not only dominate, but to convert. What is the bottom line? Well what numbers are you looking at for your bottom line? Are you looking at high traffic log numbers, high cash register numbers or a combination of both? Is success based on leads, sales, or are you just happy when someone fills out your poll?

Back in the planning phase Iíd start with what I do know. Unless I was working with someone I trusted to help me make decisions I think Iíd be careful with the risks I was taking. My plan then would include building on what I do know. In most cases that means starting simple. I would allow for my plan to grow with my knowledge and confidence level. Iíve created more than a few sites just to play with theories and ideas on, ones Iíve not tied my livelihood up with. I call these disposable domains. Heavy hitting affiliate marketers often push the envelope but knowing there are risks and if they are smart have a back up to their plan in place. It's more than common to think of those as disposable.

For the most part linking two or three sites doesnít cause problems, especially if your smart and youíve linked with a purpose. I still think it has a lot to do with common sense.

Glad I refreshed before posting because willtell makes an excellent pointÖ

The problem appears to me to be that the physical implementation and the logical implementation are not utilized properly.

Taking this a step further brings us right back to the plan. I don't ask myself after I've developed these separate sites if I should link them. My point is that I would have made that decision much earlier. I build my answers into the plan.

I do not link specifically for PageRank although I would be plain stupid not to consider it. For me the problem is not just in implementing the plan as willtell suggests but directly back to the planning itself.

It even gives me a headache reading this post, ugh. I'm sorry if I haven't simplified matters.

I still want to get back to ciml about

> Linking the spokes though to each other is where you need not a pattern but a strategy. - paynt

I am very intrigued by this, could you elaborate? -ciml

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