buckworks - 6:41 pm on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)
Anyone who preaches "Honesty is the best policy" is often just looking at things from a practical perspective, not necessarily being moralistic.
Just from the linking patterns, the search engines could often discern that someone's little network of resource sites is not nearly so independent as it's trying to appear. So many links from your external resource sites would get treated as if they were internal links anyhow.
enhances the overall "authority" of the domain itself, also helping all pages on the same domain rank higher in general
That approach has been effective for me personally, and also for clients who take my advice.
so it appears to be a neutral third party link instead of an internal link Google will discount
Google gives good credibility to normal internal linking; be careful what assumptions you make about internal links being discounted.
Neutral third-party links (or satellite sites trying to look that way) will only have useful link juice to deliver if they have a reasonably strong backlink profile of their own.
That's where you need to do some serious practical thinking. As you say, those links could just as easily be attracted to the main site to enhance its authority status and overall brand awareness. What's to be gained or lost by spreading that benefit around versus keeping it focused on one site? How do the maintenance costs compare? How does the longer-term sustainability compare?
Also ask, which SEO approach would create the most productive synergy with the overall marketing goals (and marketing style) of the company? There is no one right answer here, but you definitely want to be savvy about making sure that SEO efforts are pushing in a coordinated direction with other promotions.