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Linking Question - Is this going to cause problems?
iNET_SEO




msg:4205679
 9:24 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have a customer who has one main site (call it Top) which is a PR6. They also have 80 other sites of a similar subject matter hosted on the same IP. All of these 80 similar sites have links from Top, although they don’t contain links to each other. The 80 similar sites are more specific / narrow in subject than Top.

Think of it like having a site called “Health” and then having individual sites dedicated to asthma, foot pain, heart attack etc… although be aware that Healthcare is not the industry they are in. The reason for those sites is that users like to be on sites which most closely match their individual needs.

They have bought about 200 more domains which are specific in a similar way to the 80 and would like to link those from Top as well.

Here’s the catch: Google tells us not to sell links, but doesn’t mind links with nofollow. Are they in any danger of losing their PR6 on Top due to the standard (not nofollow) links to the 80 other sites? Or are they in any danger of losing the ranking they pass on to the 80? They own ALL of the sites, so are not “selling links” as such… What about the further 200? Has anyone experienced something like this before?

Any thoughts gratefully received.


Andy

 

jimbeetle




msg:4205797
 2:02 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Not sure why you introduced link selling here; that's really not part of the conversation as no links are being sold.

For something like this models you should investigate are the multi-national, big-brand, packaged-goods sites such as, say, P&G, Nestle, etc. Multiple markets, multiple categories, multiple brands within each category and market.

They seem to pull it off quite well. As in anything care should be taken. I wouldn't use one page with a laundry list of links. The "top" site structure should be carefully crafted. Again, the big-brand sites are good examples.

iNET_SEO




msg:4205805
 2:10 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the reply. The reason the question of selling links has come up is to allay fears that the customer has over having links from their top level to all of their sub domains. With Google not being one person looking at the sites and links, would they know the difference?

All I really need to show them is that if linking directly from the top level to 80 sites with a DOFOLLOW links, is this in any way detrimental.

jimbeetle




msg:4205823
 2:33 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

is this in any way detrimental.

Not if done correctly and with care. Again, check out the big boys. I didn't count how many domains Nestle links to but's it's a bunch. Investigate others to get an idea of the different ways this is handled and adapt a model that best suits your needs.

But most importantly, again, stay away from laundry lists. Structure your "top" site so that everything logically flows eventually to the other domains.

iNET_SEO




msg:4205836
 2:53 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Strangely enough I was just on Nestle's website looking at all the links they have on there.

We would never have gone down the laundry list route but was just after a little confirmation on ways to tackle large numbers of links all originating from one site to lots of other sites, all on the same CIP.

Thanks,

Andy

SEOLair




msg:4205850
 3:23 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Aside from the normal bleeding of PageRank being passed through the external links you shouldn't have an issue. I wouldn't worry about the "selling links" part at all. They are all your sites and it's extremely difficult for Google to prove you are selling links even if you are.

This is a pretty normal strategy that "Top" is employing. Many large companies that have multiple sub-brands that they link to from their main corporate site. An example of this in action is Proctor and Gamble.

The only thing I would note is that the value of the links being passed from "Top" to other sites will be deprecated if Google knows they are affiliated. i.e same IP addresses, Name Servers, who they are registered to etc...

iNET_SEO




msg:4205856
 3:33 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks SEOLair.

I think that the point you make that Google would have the devils own time trying to prove a link was sold, but if they visited the site, we hope that it would be clear that this doesn't happen.

You could liken this site to Yellow Pages - a directory, albeit dedicated to a particular marketplace.

I think that the customer are feeling a little more at ease about the whole thing now :)

Regards,

Andy

jimbeetle




msg:4205865
 3:44 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

The only thing I would note is that the value of the links being passed from "Top" to other sites will be deprecated if Google knows they are affiliated. i.e same IP addresses, Name Servers, who they are registered to etc...

Google will know that the sites are affiliated just by the nature of the structure and the links themselves, just as it knows that all the P&G brands or all the Nestle brands are affiliated and related to their parent companies.

The only reason to deprecate the links would be if G determined, for whatever reason, that they didn't add any value.

And that's where another word of caution comes in. While the multi-nationals are good models for this sort of thing, they are also well-known BRANDS. Google doesn't have much of a track record in penalizing big brands beyond the rare public "see, we do do it" wrist slap (and probable back-channel phone call). And Google has recently started its brand push in the SERPs. There's a lot of trust built up in those domains and they can get away with what others might not.

So, iNet_SEO, whichever way you decide to proceed, maybe build it out one brick at a time and not pop those 200 additional domains in all at once.

iNET_SEO




msg:4205876
 4:05 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

You are quite correct Jim that these sorts of things should not be hit quickly. if it takes a couple of months to roll everything out, so much the better.

I would hope with a domain that has been live and growing for the last 11 years, that (hopefully) Google will see the site for what it is and not something that has just crawled out of the woodwork :)

Thanks,

Andy

SEOLair




msg:4205964
 6:33 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Agreed Jim. Having multiple templates with different architecture will help create additional separation.

It is indeed interesting and funny how the big brands seem to "get away" with certain things. :)

Good luck Inet, If you take your time planning it out, you should be fine!

Robert Charlton




msg:4206034
 8:52 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Several things to keep in mind about the Nestle setup. They appear to treat it differently on different Nestle sites, but in general the setup is such that...

a) the link to the each of the other brands is at the bottom of a fairly long drill-down chain, and is only one of a bunch of links on the linking page. The others are nav links back to the main site.

b) the anchor text is never a keyword... it's always the brand name or the canonical url for the domain.

As such, there's little PageRank loss, and also very little linking credit conferred. This is unlikely to be seen by Google as a linking scheme. And these are all established brands.

This is in contrast to the example suggested...

...like having a site called "Health" and then having individual sites dedicated to asthma, foot pain, heart attack etc...

I think there's a huge difference, not to be minimized in this discussion. It used to be said, when blogrolls were the linking scheme du jour but it was clear that Google was catching on, that Google would let you get away with it as long as you stayed with the site name and didn't try for any keyword anchor text. There is an analogous consideration here... those blogroll site names were brands.

...about 200 more domains which are specific in a similar way to the 80 and would like to link those from Top as well

Candidly, this sounds like a linking scheme, at least to me. I think the issue of whether they look bought is a red herring. The greater issue is whether this looks like a natural situation... ie, whether these are real companies, or just keyword domains. Sounds to me like microsites in reverse.

You are quite correct Jim that these sorts of things should not be hit quickly. if it takes a couple of months to roll everything out, so much the better.

A couple of months? No way are these going to be remotely seen to resemble brands in a couple of months, not even in accelerated web time. Again, personal opinion.

jimbeetle




msg:4206083
 10:16 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the dicussion about the anchor text, Robert. Very important.

And I don't know why the 200 domains number didn't strike me. Old eyes and gray matter I guess.

Robert Charlton




msg:4206190
 3:39 am on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

jimbeetle - Thanks. I wouldn't have gotten to the discussion of the anchor text vs brands without your lead to the international brands.

There is a page on the Nestlé US site, btw, that lists all related US sites, roughly 70 of them, but I didn't count individually. While this might be construed as a laundry list, it's not in the sense I think you meant it. A good portion of the links don't go directly to those sites... they go via an ExitNotice page that advises you you're leaving the Nestlé site and will be subject to a different privacy policy and t&c. Definitely cautious, but probably more from the legal department than from marketing, and clearly not SEO-driven.

In any case, the links to brand sites are not all at the bottom of a long-drill down chain, but they're not all from the home page either. I'm reminded that large corporations that don't sell online can often have very low web awareness, and they may not be a good model at all. It's a memory that I've tried to repress. ;)

All that said, I think the issue with the approach suggested in the original question would be intention, as evidenced by keywords vs brands, the number of sites, whether the individual sites had developed independent linking profiles, and probably also whether the Top site was well established as a brand.

I'd be very wary about the approach (ie, I wouldn't go near it).

iNET_SEO




msg:4206243
 7:46 am on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the info guys.

Just to explain the domain situation, these are not micro sites but niches with branding in mind. I can't go in to too much detail, but please believe me, they are not micro sites just there to get keyword traffic.

But thank you all for the input. Please feel free to ask any questions and to the best of my ability, I shall answer :)

Regards,

Andy

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