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