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Linking a circle of web sites



8:08 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi all

I am trying to advise a client why he should NOT crosslink/interlink a number of web sites.

I read somewhere not long ago that the terminology for linking from site A to site B to site C to site D and from D back to site A was referred to as <something or other?>

I cannot find it in a search of WW. Can anyone remind me of the "term" used for this type of unacceptable practice.




8:51 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think it's called a "ring" but there are worthier webmasters here who know a lot more than I do. Hopefully, they'll comment.


8:56 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Cross linking


9:04 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks ukgimp!

"Closed Loop" was the term I was looking to use and it was in that thread.



9:30 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


That thread did refer to "closed loop", but it also put this practice into a proportionate perspective.

I.E. If you are only talking about 2 or 3 sites the chances of Google penalising the sites is low, add into this lots of other external inbound and outbound links (e.g. out of this "closed loop") and it is then even less likely to cause a penalty.

This is just what I have deduced from that thread - anyone have any comments on this?


11:15 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

If Google are able to automatically identify clusters of sites according to links, presumably a threshold of inward links (from outside the cluster) as a ratio to internal links must be crossed before any sort of penalty applies.

In other words, if the sites that you wish to link each have backlinks from outside the cluster, there should not be a problem. However, if a cluster of a dozen sites only has half a dozen links (from different sites/clusters) into it from outside the cluster, then I think alarms might ring in Google's algos.

If the only reason for cross-linking the sites is to try to boost page-rank because there are few inward links, then if Google decide that you're trying to play the system and apply a penalty they'll be right to do so.



8:48 pm on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks UK_Web_Guy

I have advised the client that he must not attempt to follow this line. If he still wishes to continue he will have to find another company to carry it out.


I nearly got lost at the 3rd cluster in you posting :-) but after reading it a few times I can see what you mean.
Agree with your conclusions.



11:33 pm on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The cross linking issue is always relative to the sites in question.
Think along the lines of: is it of any use to the user to see a link to site x on this particular page?
if the answer is yes, or maybe, then placing the link really can't harm.

to give a more specific example, if a travel guide network has 5 sites on 5 metropoles in Europe why not place links to each metropole on the bottom of the page. The users are alerted, that there are more cities and each site adds to the whole picture.
YET, if you're running an affiliate program hosting 100 travel sites all around the world I would strongly disadvise to link to all of them from all of them.
What use is it to the user? none! they are not going to visit Vancouver after they looked at Shanghai.
They might visit Peking though. Be selective and stay relevant to the content you are displaying.


12:51 am on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Circular linking when not linking from every page seems still to work well enough for mass site owners (I am not one).

The problem (thank Google) seems to come for them of late when they have too many same same sites cross linked. And / or where their circular linking strategy is an inherent part of their web design (i.e. where they link from each page to the target site or sites, which then in turn links each ot it's pages to another site and so on).

I am actually hoping for greater things along these lines from G and shortly :-). Saves me having to build a database, buying 20 domains, getting 20 templates, and auto-generating 20 sites!

I think these days circular linkers are taking too many risks for too little reward.


2:03 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have seen a popular three word keyphrase where 8 of the first 10 results are taken by extremely similar sites with extremely similar domains (keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.tld).

All the sites are crosslinked (ie linked to each other by small keyword-rich text links at the footer of each site).

It amazes me they can dominate the first page so much in this supposedly 'new improved' Google and I will be watching closely to see if and when the sites are booted. In the meantime I reckon those sites are making mucho $$$.

Who said cheats never prosper?


2:13 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

soccer_star you've been porn surfing:) Ye I've seen that guy myself, knocked him off my category but he dominates all sorts of other categories


2:31 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Do some limited cross linking, but why do it where the competition is weak. Pick 20 aggresive terms and crosss link from one site to the other, to the most suitable pages, with suitable anchor text, on theme and good PR.....then you should be ok for the long term. But make sure the sites in question also have lots of other inbounds.



3:09 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Can anyone remind me of the "term" used for this type of unacceptable practice.

In the primitive days of SEO, this was called creating a "Link Farm".


3:47 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

mayday9 - I am so busted!

You must understand it was purely in the cause of SEO research (that last sentence is just in case my girlfriend ever reads this!) :)

Still, doesn't bode well for Google that you and I have noticed it but Google hasn't - he's not a subtle crosslinker and dominates the first page of about a dozen similar terms!


3:49 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How long is your business plan and how long is his?

If you want to make good cash quick then copy him......if you want to have longevity then do it properly and slowly.

I know people who have shops and hae had the same shop for a long time and make a nice tick along income. I also know people who open a shop and sell stuff for only 3 months, then shut the shop and move onto the next thing....you choose.


4:12 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

You are right Dougs, there are two Google strategies and playing it fair is the key to long term success.

However, even though this guy's crosslinked sites may well be booted out in a month or so, all he'll do then is buy up 20 more keyword-stuffed domains, transfer his sites to those domains on a new server, get indexed within days and have at least another month (if not more) before he gets booted again.

During which time he'll have made a lot of $$$, way more than it cost to buy the 20 new domains and host them.

At the moment it looks like 'repetitive' short-term cheating reaps rewards, especially as Google is indexing sites so quickly nowdays but taking a lot longer to realise they're spamming.


4:20 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Can anyone remind me of the "term" used for this type of unacceptable practice.

Er, I think its a 'Web Ring'.
There are: Clusters, Web Rings, Link Farms, Cross Linking...

Web Rings seem rather out of date now, but customers ask about them because they've heard of them. One of my customers asked me the other day "If we add 'keyword keyord' lots of times at the bottom of the page and the same colour as the page, will it help?".



7:12 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Ive also heard of this referred to as "round robin" linking.


8:20 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Soccer Star

I agree, but I'd prefer to have an easier life and build something once properly and reap the rewards for a long time. Admittedly if you can make enough quickly then you can take the cash and buy some property.



8:41 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

the term is "circle-jerk"?

[edited by: engine at 9:13 pm (utc) on Aug. 1, 2003]
[edit reason] No sigs, thanks. See TOS [webmasterworld.com] [/edit]


9:16 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Me too, and that's what I've done, I'm in it for the long haul. It's just annoying seeing Google allowing these guys to get away with it so easily. :(


9:48 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I use google spam report whenever I have time and energy to do so. I do research and dig out all the dirt before posting an extensive report. Spent at least 30 min on that guy



12:12 am on Aug 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hello WW,

I don't think I'll have a problem with this, do you agree?:

Site A PR 6 points to

Sites B (4 domains, PR 3s), points to

Sites C (6 domains, PR 3s), points to

Site A

A, B and C are all on seperate hosts. All have unique content and all are sort of similar topics. All have plenty of unique backward links.

If I do too aggressive outside linking for Sites C and they get grey-barred, will that affect the PR of Site A (the site Sites C link to) or Sites B (the sites that link to Sites B)?



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