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A couple questions:
Let's say you have a network of sites that are all linked to from one main URL : "mysite.net" that was created about five years ago and has plenty of incoming links.
Let's say this sites leads to thirty something sites like "mysite.net/redwidget" & "mysite.net/bluewidget" (these used to be .com sites but were moved under .net when it was learned that cross linking was wrong). The main URL also leads to 10-15 other sites like "mysite-greywidget.com" and "mysite-yellowwidget.com."(the reason they are not under .net as well is because of all the great links they have accumulated...however, none of them crosslink either).
Now, these sites all have the same type of theme (buying widgets) & they are all made by the same company, therefore, they have the same design (except for content, color schemes, banner codes and links).
Now, my question is why does Google still penalize sites like these? Doesn't it make sense for them to have the same design? Wouldn't it also make sense for these sites to cross link to each other since they all have the same theme? Furthermore, shouldn't they be able to run the same banner code on all the sites without being penalized?
Please explain, thanks.
Forgive me, but I thought your post was a little confused.
(these used to be .com sites but were moved under .net when it was learned that cross linking was wrong)
Changing domain extensions (from .com to .org/.net/.info etc.) would not affect Google's cross linking penalty.
>>Let's say this sites leads to thirty something sites
>>The main URL also leads to 10-15
That's 45 separate sites! Why would you need this many separate domains when from what I gather, the content you describe could easily be put on a single site? Just in terms of the hosting/registration costs involved, this doesn't make any sense to me. How would visitors be able to remember this many different names? The only real reason I can think of is from an SEO (and outdated SEO at that) perspective.
they have the same design (except for content, color schemes, banner codes and links).
The design and colours make no difference to Google. It can't see what your site looks like. If the content is unique, you would not incur any penalty for duplicate content. If the sites are not cross-linking, they won't be penalised for that either.
If you are talking about a real site, the reason it has been banned/penalised/'is not ranking very well' was not mentioned in your post above.
Wouldn't it also make sense for these sites to cross link to each other since they all have the same theme?
You said above that they don't cross link, so this won't be a problem.
shouldn't they be able to run the same banner code on all the sites without being penalized
IMO Google would never implement penalties based on banner ads, since this excludes sites regardless of their content and would cause deterioration in the relevance of results.
I can see how you were confused so let me try to explain it better:
The reason we have around 40-50 sites is because they are all different in content and about totally diferent widgets but they all have the same theme (let's say they explain how to buy or sell different widgets). For example, let's say one site offers a guide about red widgets while another site offers a guide for blue widgets (which is totally different from red widgets). Do you see why we have 45 different sites? They are all different....except for the theme, design and format as I mentioned earlier.
The sites are not all under one domain because they were originally created as separate domains about five years ago. Some of those domains compiled a bunch of great links, which all deliver great traffic so it would put a big hurt on traffic if we put everything under one domain.
Are you sure about Google not being able to read the same code on designs because that's not what I heard. Also, most directories will not except different domains if they look similar.
I mentioned the cross linking because we use to cross link and I think we are still being penalized for it. I also do not see the problem with these sites cross linking as people looking to buy or sell green widgets may also be interested in buying or selling blue widgets.
I would also think Google could mistake the sites for being all the same if they saw the same banner codes and design.
Am i wrong in thinking this?
I am one of those who believes that a cross-linking penalty does not exist.
There are many who claim they've been penalized for crosslinking, but I have yet to see one example of one site that has been penalized *absolutely, 100% sure* because it was crosslinked with other sites.
In response to your question, I run a network of sites that sell 6 very similar (yet different) products - all with the same structural design, different text content and color schemes, and ALL are crosslinked.
Never been penalized - almost 2 years now. No reason to.
Each site targets a specific product. (If you want info on a *similar product*, click here...)
Does Google penalize networked sites like these? Who knows?
Not in my case, at least...
Are you sure about Google not being able to read the same code on designs
Google could possibly pick up on identical code on more than one site, but this really doesn't matter. If there is substantially different content on the other sites then it won't affect your ranking at all.
I would also think Google could mistake the sites for being all the same if they saw the same banner codes and design
I think you have the wrong idea about how Google 'sees' web pages. It pretty much ignores all of the code of your site, other than words that visitors can see. This is a simplification, but it is the main body content/text of your site that is the important thing. Banner codes and design will have no effect.
we use to cross link and I think we are still being penalized for it
TWhalen said he doubted that a cross linking penalty actually exists, and I wouldn't like to say one way or the other. But if your site has employed techniques that Google does not like in the past, there's a good chance that you would still be suffering as a result.
Why do you think your site has been penalised? Does it have a grey or white PR on the toolbar, or are your rankings just not as good as you would like? If it's the latter it may well be just an optimisation issue, lack of links or something similar.
Also, we were either removed or dropped down significantly from main keywords for most of our sites but are still listed for the 2nd and 3rd rate keywords.