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There is no duplicate content, and this is done to keep things very clear for users of the individual sites. (The Blue Widget people generally have no interest in the Yellow Widget stuff, etc.)
We would like to have each individual website link back to the main company website ("This site is produced by ABC Company"), and the main company website will link to each of the individual websites ("ABC company produces the following specialized websites").
From this structure it is very clear and transparent that all of our sites are related. We're not trying to hide anything from google or the guide users, and we're not using this structure with the specific intention to pass the PR amongst our sites. (Each one is developing it's own links in from outside sites that we don't own/control).
My concern is whether the interlinking will somehow have a net negative effect on the google (or other search engine rankings) of the individual sites as compared to if they had absolutely no interlinking between them whatsoever.
I would expect that google might dampen, filter or totally ignore some of the positive PR/ranking factors that come from the interlinking of our sites, but should we be concerned that they might add some negative weight,or even penalty, because of the interlinking?
In other words, is it possible that the sites would actually rank lower than they would have if there was absolutely no interlinking?
Any insights on this would be much appreciated...
The rules for SE's are quite clear, their implementation of those rules is not clear at all, in some cases.
That's certainly true. I suppose the safest way is to not interlink the sites at all. Then there's no risk that the algo's will find something that looks suspicious (eventhough an actual person looking at the sites probably wouldn't see a problem, as there is no duplicate content, the pages have unique content, it's all quite logical from a user perspective, etc).
Seems kind of silly, though. My gut tells me that Google would probably not apply a penalty to interlinking sites like this, but rather just not provide any positives in terms of passing the PR/better ranking factors, etc. But maybe this is wishful thinking?
Was the search engine you were referring to Yahoo?
I suppose it's not exactly the same since the sites don't all link to each other. They only to my site so it will look less like a link farm.
One word of caution, I had another site penalised earlier this year for being involved in a link farm. I had searched out a group of about 10 companies that were in the same industry but not in competition with each other. We interlinked for the link popularity but also because we generated genuine traffic from each other's sites. I didn't see any problem with this but Google didn't like it!
Basically just reciprocal links between the main company site, and each of the individidual specialized sites we produce.
Also the links wouldn't be sitewide. Just one link on the 'About' page from the specialized guide to the main company website, and one page on the main company site that has links to the specialized guides.
So, I suppose that this could be similar to the common situation with web-design companies like yours (Here are links to sites we've designed, and each site has a link back to the design company: Site design by ABC Web Design"). Although, you don't really own/control those sites, right? And the sites might be on different servers, different IP, etc.
IF you're careful, and NOT trying to pull a fast one on your visitors or the search engines, you should be ok.
Of course, your mileage may vary.
Similar sites on same IP address
I don't think that Google is going to look at how up front you are with the user. They're dealing with related sites on a much broader scale. I don't think they want related sites to rank for similar terms, and I think that right now they may have their similarity filter turned up too high.
Beyond the hosting... I think the question boils down to how related the sites are thematically, and how independent their links are.
With regard to the links, this might mean that for some of your sites, you might want to establish independent inbounds before linking to them from your main site. All of the sites that I've observed with difficulties had minimal interlinking, but they were connected.
With regard to theme... if one of your sites is a gizmo site and another is a widget site, and the page on the gizmo site that links to the widget site contains some description about widgets, that may be enough to raise a similarity flag. Your hosting and linking patterns would then perhaps be deciding factors. I still haven't fully sorted it out.
edit to fix typo
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 5:21 am (utc) on Sep. 6, 2004]
My gut tells me that Google would probably not apply a penalty to interlinking sites like this, but rather just not provide any positives in terms of passing the PR/better ranking factors, etc. But maybe this is wishful thinking?
PS - One would think that they would just drop the positives... but in one case, at least, that I describe in the Similar Sites thread, I'm seeing that a site doesn't even rank for its own non-competitive company name (I'm thinking because it's mentioned on the linking page of the higher PageRank partner site).
Finally, I think I'm going to avoid interlinking the sites at all just to be on the safer side. It will help me to sleep better at night, and not always have me wondering if any SERPS problems are related to the interlinking.
It bugs me a little from the user side in that the interlinking is really just a logical setup, but then again, not having the interlinking is not going to really degrade the user experience in any major way.
I suppose then I'll also have no excuse for being lazy about independent link development for each site, since that will be the only way I can get inbound links (i.e. I can't rely on my established sites to get things started for a new site).
To me that sounds well within the guidelines, and wouldn't be perceived as a "links scheme designed to increase PR or ranking", but I can understand your super-cautious approach.. ;-)
It is then easy to knock your primary blue widget site out of the serps for a number of terms, just because you may be using them on another related site (especially if that site is linking to the primary site and especially if that site is more "global" in nature).
A web design and hosting company has offered to get me reciprocal links from all their sites (about 150) to my directory. They will almost all be relevant as it is a local area directory and they generally do local sites. However, 150 links from the same IP?
Could be interesting to see what google does....
*Just one link on the 'About' page from the specialized guide to the main company website, and one page on the main company site that has links to the specialized guides.*
Sigh...It seems that way to me also, but after reading all of those threads, I keep getting nervous about it, because it still might get confused in the google algo.
...if you are moving in the area of related topics...it is then easy to knock your primary blue widget site out of the serps for a number of terms, just because you may be using them on another related site...
Actually the main company website is just a company "brochure" type site. Basically it just provides some background on the company and what we do (produce specialized guides in a broad field), and then would have a page with links to each of our specialized guides. I actually don't mind if it doesn't generate its own search engine traffic.
Also, I wouldn't really run into the situation where two of the sites would be competing for the same keyword or keyword phrase. The only sharing of the keywords/phrases would mainly come from the link from the main site to a specialized guide either in the anchor text or the brief description.
Other than that there is no targeting of the keywords for any of the specialized sites in the title, H1 tags, keyword density, etc. on the main company site.
So, given that there isn't excessive interlinking, and there isn't duplicate keyword/phrase focus, maybe I am overly concerned here about this and am over reacting. Hard to know these days.
I do not think we have received this penalty, but we have dropped 5-7 spots across the board (does not appear to be a simple algo change since it happened to 5 of my sites and they all dropped about the same amount).
And if you are interlinking, would you get knocked out of the SERPS our is it possible to just drop?
I have dropped out of all rankings slowlu over a period of time,so this week i have removed all my links which are from my own sites across my entire network, whta i am trying to work ot from this thread is will i see my rankings come bank.
Secondly all my sites are location specific so i have started getting links from business, community site, schools ect which all have the location in the title and url so far for my main site i have around 40. The site is currently 26th with a pr of 5 taking into account all the links removed from my own network, all the new links added with the location in the keyword. Can i expect to jump back to the top 3. I forgot to add i have addeda lot of content too.
Should I probably not have any links between any of my sites? Should I only avoid linking between the shared IP sites?
If I do interlink them, should I avoid homepage linking, and would doing it from my reciprocal links directory pages be safer?
What if any of my crosslinks are showing up in Google search > link:www.website...com? Should I keep those links?
Does anyone see a problem with this?
Years? Oldest site 10 yrs, youngest 3 yrs.
100+ urls? Country specific, widget specific, trade specific and all the top bar navigation for every site i.e. contact, about, enquiries, quality, faqs, wanted, etc...all refer to the main company web site.
Never had a problem however there is absolutely no duplication of pages on any site and, admitedly, we are regarded as the #1 authority site in our industry worldwide. Some sites even run in little rings of their own, max 14 urls however they still link back to the main company web site.
I wouldn't worry about it whatsoever and as for passing PR...this has never, ever been considered by us...content is king.
We are keeping our original ISP since moving all domains would be a pain in the butt at the moment and we are now serving many of the images from the new ISP to the pages on the original ISP!
It may sound a lot of work but it's simple find and replace action when using Dreamweaver:-)
An obvious side benefit to this is that now the separated sites are actually independent in the eyes of the Google algo which would possibly help with backlinks if they were ever to be required.
It's very difficult to quantify that when already being #1 so I'll let my keyboard stay quiet and just assume I may be correct.