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This is my first post, and truly find webmasterworld a great information resource for our industry. I own a web design firm and offer hosting services. Of course all my customers and myself are on this single host (same IP). I have a portfolio section which links to my customers sites. I use a bottom copyright notice on every customer page and insert my "site created by...." link.
So my question is in 2 parts:
1. Since I link to customers and they link back to me (really being a perfect crosslink!) will I be penalized by Google? To make things worse, we're all on the same host. Should I simply stop linking back to my customers and put a JPG example of their site?
2. Is it considered spamming if I have my "site created by..." link on every page of my customer sites? Should I simply put it on the first page and stop there?
Although I agree with the fundamental principle of the Google TOS, I think web design firms may be at risk. After all, it is correct to assume that I enjoy the added bonus of my customers linking back to me for ranking purposes, but I don't do it just for that reason, after all I simply want other customer to know I designed these sites! :-)
The portfolio is there for potential customers to see what you can do so it serves a purpose, it woudl be a good idea to remove some of the back links from your clients sites, that way not all links are reciptical.
I've never had a problem. Granted, that doesn't mean it won't be a problem some day in the future, but....
Suprisingly though, Google must know it's just a copyright - 'designed by' link, because our corporate site is only a PR5, while we have several other sites that rank higher (PR6 and PR7s).
on the other hand, if a page is placed in the portfolio, it's indexed by google faster.
some ppl are really concerned about crosslink issues but it seems to be critical only, if this is done with a lot of links. here are my favorite threads on it:
My concern is that I am afraid that Google would interpret multiple links to my sites (every page of a customers site at the bottom) as a spamming attempt. Especially that they are on the same host. How can Google interpret this as legit or simply someone creating false web pages massively linking back to his web site. (an example is the guy here crosslinking 70 site copies he made).
However, a major difference from the "70 site crosslink" example is that every site cross-linked to every other site (creating a star pattern).
In my case, you can view this as a pyramid pattern, where I reside on the top linking to all customers, and customers link back to me. In no case, do customers link with other customers. No star pattern.
What is your take on the "pyramid" vs "the star"? Could this be the way Google differentiates?
The way I see it this is not spam. Book publishers get to put their details on the inside sleave of the book, same for record labels & a bunch of other industries. Its important to brand your work and a discrete footer link is the standard way of branding sites. Also portfolio's are completely legitimate.
I think the important thing with Google is to sit back and look at what you are doing, ask yourself "is this for a human user or a robot". If your answer is human user you're doing ok. I have yet to see someone on these board complaining about being banned because they are doing something user centric, I'm sure there are cases but.... generally the "I've been banned" posts end up being about something that is quite blatantly geared at spamming the search engines. From what I have observed Google are pretty good in this area.
Another thing is the pages on your client's sites that contain your link will usually be fairly diverse. If your client asks you to make 50 sites that are identical I would keep your link off them.
Google REALLY has people scared.
The reason why you are fine (Redundant IP or Not) is because there is unique content on all the sites that contain your link. Do not worry about this.
My firm has hundreds of links on client's sites that we created, as PR of 6. My firm is 6 yrs old. First page listing on Google for my target keywords as long as I can remember. (we host too)
CROSS-LINKING is about SPAM, not about legitimate links. As long as you can honestly justify what you are doing, you have nothing to worry about.
you are linking to show a portolio of sites you have made other sites are linking because you made the site ... you are not trying to artifically inflate PR
IF however you took it a huge step farther and created a site designed by page on every site you have done that links to all the other sites you have done, then you have created (duplicate content) and have tried to artifically boost the PR of the sites ...
Everyone's paranoid about it but there really is a huge difference between the 2 scenarios.
there is a huge difference between hub and spoke reciprocal links and a truly crosslinked networked.
1) a web designer/developer links out to all of his customers and the customers all link back to the designers/developers website.
2) a web designer links out to all of his customers - and then tries to inflate the number of incoming links to each site by linking all of the client sites to each other (as well as to the developers site).
case 2 will ring alarm bells and probably get the site caught in a spam filter - case 1 should be relatively safe as this structure occurs quite regularly/naturally across the net (e.g. sporting bodies and affiliated clubs, technical groups and members.)
edit note: I probably should have read the entire thread more thoroughly as this is essentially the same statement jbauder made above.
that's what i promoted ;). don't scare google to much. first think about your personal interests, then your clients and then about google and other se(s). google for example tries to catch a human point of view on the net and linking one or more websites to each other is not automatically spam to them because this is what's normal in the net.
and: the sites are related because of it's creator (you/your company). this is no spam at all and even if google will one month rate this as spam, google will be flooded by webdesigners all over the world because most of them do this. put your personal interest in front.
For my twopence worth, we've had the same prob/question when I started posting.
Personally I'd recomend that you only link your 'designed by' link on the homepage of your clients sites, then have the same on every other page just not linked.
I'm with a'bdy else - I don't think it would harm you, but we did switch to 1 link because IMHO you end up draining too much PR from your clients otherwise..
I think Google might actually have filters applied to web development firms picking certain keywords?
Steve, I wouldn't like to put it so strongly, as Google can always change their weightings and their approach to penalties but yes, this is how it has looked for a long time.
> Google REALLY has people scared.
Google REALLY makes people money. Those people are right to be scared. Other people dream of making money, and would be better off publishing good content than worrying about penalties.
> I think Google might actually have filters applied to web development firms picking certain keywords?
It wouldn't surprise me if Google implement a filter that makes multiple links from one domain count less than multiple links from multiple domains. Just as off domain links count more for link text than in-domain links (but not PageRank of course).