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Remedying Cross Linking Penalty
Cross linking penalty

 4:00 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Evidently I have been nailed with a penalty for too much cross linking, costing me 30-40 spots in the serps for my main money-making site compared with last year. This has gone on for 7 months now. Revenue is off 99% compared to 2005.

The sites are similar, all hotel-related. However, most sites are focused on a different city (NYC, Atlanta, Gatlinburg, etc.) while the main site is worldwide. All together 10 sites are linked together. Five sites have PR5 while five have PR4 and all have had this PR for a long time, although all were PR5 last year.

This cross linking worked well last year and I was ranked #1 for most of the year for my targeted search terms. Then everything went south and has not returned in 7 months so it is time for an overhaul.

My question: Which is better, 301 'ing 9 of the sites to the main site or saving the PR4 and PR5 sites but changing them away from the hotel theme and still linking them to the main site, but not linking the main site to the remaining 9 sites? Or is there an even better alternative?



 10:24 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

How are you so certain it is cross linking which caused the trouble? There have been many changes in the SERPS in december and januar and when one gains, another goes.
When your links are relevant, and it seems to me like that, there shouldn't be much of a problem. I do it too between three of my sites. I don't think it will give me better results in the SERPS but I never noticed a negative effect as well. As long it is relevant to the user.
Maybe it is an open door but did you check your pages for near dup. content? Is it possible that is the reason?


 12:42 am on Jul 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't know for sure the problem is with crosslinking but I am about to run out of other potential causes.

I first thought it was a duplicate content penalty since outside programmers put up a development mirror site without keeping G out. G found the dev site and indexed it. But since duplicate content penalties supposedly last 3-6 months that likelihood is getting less likely because it has been 7+ months now.

Here is the background. My serps fell 30 places on December 13 and have not improved at all although I have improved content, refreshed content, and worked non stop to get back in G's good graces. Absolutely nothing has worked.

Before December 13, I was ranking #1 for my numerous targeted searches for almost all of 2005. Now I get no better than #31-32.

Another tidbit. On March 9, my results in BD was comprised totally of cached pages from July & August 2005 although a completely new hotels page was put up in late December. Supposedly G likes new content, well I gave them a much-improved product and they didn't even crawl it.

That day I wrote G a letter advising them of the above facts. Within 3 hours I received a reply from Google telling me that they were forwarding my email to their engineering team. Within days, G was crawling heavily and the index was filled with fresh pages and the number of pages went up dramatically.

However, the serps remain the same (#31-45) regardless of what I do.


 5:00 am on Jul 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

Maybe it's not a crosslinking penalty, but no-separate-sites bonus? I mean, now your sites rank exactly as if it were one site (obviously, there is always much crosslinking inside a domain). Before, Google was fooled it were separate sites and added more value to the links, now it's over?

I think you should keep relevant links between your sites and concentrate on gaining external links. What's most important, try to get links to your sites separately - if you buy a link from a site, buy it just to one of your sites, not to all ten! So the sites will look less related.

Of course, the best it would be to avoid sharing the same IP by all your sites, but gaining external links from totally separated sites helps - this my guess of the criteria in Google to decide if some sites sharing the IP are really separate sites - how many inbound links to these sites come from the same sites!


 5:22 am on Jul 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree with what Wizard said. Might make alot of sense to ensure, if needed one by one, that each site has a dedicated IP.

It's ok to link some sites with others, but stay away from linking all of your sites with all. Most of all, only link for a reason (such as in an article or sales letter) and not from the footer of every adside or footer.

But since duplicate content penalties supposedly last 3-6 months that likelihood is getting less likely because it has been 7+ months now.

Where have you hear this information? Are you referring to index page penalties due to other page duplicate content, or duplicate indexes on those various sites.

Most pages of mine that inevitably got dropped or supplmental due to duplicate content never got their rankings back.


 6:40 pm on Jul 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

No less an authority than Brett Tabke discussed the duplicate content penalty and its' term at


However, that post was from November 2004 so Big Daddy may have changed things.

Additionally, lesser know authorities discussed the 6 month term at another post of mine:


FYI, all 10 sites are hosted on a dedicated server and have unique IP addresses albeit on the same IP block.


 6:45 pm on Jul 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

Have yet to have recovered from dupe penalties on internal pages, and it's been 9-10 months.

Just my 0.02 cents


 5:03 am on Jul 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

It won't be a cross linking penalty. All my sites are cross linked, and on one server.

Corss linking results in at worst, no benefit, but unless ONE of the sites has a penalty for some other reason, no penalty for cross linking that I am aware of.

In any case, if it WAS a pently, you have dropped far further.

You need better analysis of your site vs the compeition.


 10:45 am on Jul 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have analyzed my site vs the competition inside and out using various tools and hired a SEO firm to do the same (who found nothing critically wrong). When I analyze with SEO Elite and check to find well optimized sites, I keep coming up at the top of the heap, sometimes by a dramatic number but almost always in the top 5 regardless of which targted search term I use.

Therefore, after much analysis over the past 7 months, I think it is one of these two problems. The first is a duplicate penalty assessed to my primary site because of the development mirror site put up by programmers last Fall which Google crawled and indexed. The dev site is still in G's index now but I just 301'd it. This is sounds likely because I fell 30 spots in the serps initially and have stayed there. This dup penalty has been my belief since day one but it should have expired by now.

The second reason is a lack of quality IBL's. I didn't work on developing links too much because I was doing so well. But now that the well has gone dry, I am busting my butt to get great IBL's.

Question for you: How many sites do you have crosslinked?


 12:30 pm on Jul 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Does any of you think it could be an anchor text spam penalty?


 2:53 pm on Jul 20, 2006 (gmt 0)


When you do a search at mcdar are your sites as badly affected on all DCs?



 4:23 pm on Jul 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

What is an anchor text spam penalty? This is a new one on me.

Also, what is "search at mcdar"? The rankings fluctuate at all the DC's but none are better than in the 30s for my targeted search terms.


 6:01 pm on Jul 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

The cross-linking may well have been one factor in your overall linkage pattern getting deemed as "tainted".

I'd probably pick one site and "de-louse" it completely before submitting a re-inclusion request, and see how things go.


 6:18 pm on Jul 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

What is an anchor text spam penalty? This is a new one on me.

When you interlink your sites...are you targeting only one or two of your main phrases? (you call them your money phrases)...in your "anchor link text" ... the text used in the clickable link

If so, then G may have simply devalued you for that phrase (or phrases) .. because of the close relationship of your small cluster of sites...

But if they figured out your network...then you will have to keep all your sites...separate out their relationships...and work each one for new independent inbound links from different sources...(and don't point a new link from one independent source to all of your sites)


 10:54 pm on Jul 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm having a similar problem. I run a link directory and about 50 out of the 10,000 submitted links I own. They are all different domain names but on the same class C IP. I don't know if I'm being penalized or not but I would like to fix the problem before I am. I can't stop promoting my own sites (crosslinking) since that is my main source of traffic. If I change the directory domain and a couple others to a different class C IP would that fix the possible crosslinking issue?


 11:11 pm on Jul 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

i am cross linking 80 sites


 11:11 pm on Jul 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

i am cross linking 80 sites


 7:41 pm on Jul 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Would changing some of my domains to a different class c ip fix the crosslinking problem?

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