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I am worried about Google picking up our sites as spam because we cross-link them all. They are travel sites, and each site covers different locations, so we need to link them to each other to maximize the potential of our customers.
However, something occured to me: If a subpage on site a links to the index page on site b, but the reciprocal link comes from a subpage on site b back to the index page site a, will Google pick it up? This is not a simple case of cross-linking (page to page), and must exist in many legitimate cases like ours.
I have read here that many SEO experts recommend not cross-linking sites, but in our case it cannot be avoided.
I've read of Google's war on spam. Can Google really be planning to axe in-house networks of sites that link to each other? This must make up a large proportion of the web where companies cross-promote products and services.
Perhaps this is why we haven't faced the chop until now. Any suggestions?
There are a few things you can do:
- Do everything with reason
- Check what other similar (unpunished) site set-ups do
Many, many sites have reciproc. links. They form natural ways of helping each other and the visitor and they show a form of a community.
As starters, I would say the best way to do it is as you described. Do not let the linking point to each others same page.
More importantly, let each site earn its own incoming links from different sites and let each site link out to different other sites.
As a guess, I would make sure that for every link pointing to my own sites
from my own sites, I would link out a six-fold of links to other independant sites. Same goes for independant back-links.
In addition to vitaplease's suggestions (which are very good I might add)
Have some unique pages that are only available in one site and link your others sites to these.
As long as your crosslinking strategy does not appear to be crosslinking just for the sake of crosslinking you will be ok.
If a subpage on site a links to the index page on site b, but the reciprocal link comes from a subpage on site b back to the index page site a, will Google pick it up? This is not a simple case of cross-linking (page to page), and must exist in many legitimate cases like ours.
You're looking it this as a patterned plan and that may work. I tend to consider each link separately. I break each link down to its core by asking myself a few basic questions?
1. Why am I adding this link?
2. Does this link add value to the site? By value I consider:
a. Value to the searcher
b. Value to the themes
c. Value to the navigation
d. Value for the spiders
e. Value to a networking (reciprocal) relationship
f. Value for branding
g. Value to the marketing plan
I then might take it further and consider Linking Outside the Box [webmasterworld.com].
These principles seem to apply to both my internal and external linking strategies.