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Network Footers Cause Spam Red Flag?

Can networking your sites knock you out SERPS?

10:26 pm on Mar 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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We have six or seven financial services sites that do very well for us across their individual keyword categories. We recently added a network footer so that users who like our credit card debt consolidation site, for example, could know that we also offer content and resources on tax debt relief. We added a network footer on every page of our site which linked to the homepage of each of our sites in the middle of February. This morning - we disappeared from 90% of our SERPS. No other changes had been made. It occurred to me that this might look like a huge increase in inbound links to some of our sites, which might cause a red flag - even though we're just trying to cross promote our small network. We immediately removed the footer from our network. Does anyone know if this is most likely the case? Is there any way to cross promote our sites without getting penalized? Will our rankings return once the pages are indexed without the footer? Looking at some of the leaders in the space we thought it would be okay - since they all seem to internetwork their sites - i.e. Lending Tree w/ GetSmart and their other IAC properties. Any insight would be appreciated.
10:40 pm on Mar 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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google has been in testing mode. many sites are being wiped out for 1-3 days at a time and then reappearing. your footer may have triggered something, or maybe it was totally coincidental.

hard to know what they are up to. we have been hit several times, have pored over data and don't really have a clue

8:27 pm on Mar 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Is there any way to cross promote our sites without getting penalized?

Sure, put rel='nofollow' in the anchor tag. Which isn't to say that cross linking is necessarily penalized.

1:29 am on Mar 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Is there any way to cross promote our sites without getting penalized?

dexterseo - When you say "individual keyword categories," but that they're all also "financial services sites," it's not clear how "individual" in fact they are.

It's also not clear where your other inbound links are coming from, what their hosting situation is, etc etc....

How many of each sites inbound links are coming from the same pages?

Are your sites hosted on the same server? On the same class C?

Google has many ways of determining relatedness, but it has seemed to me that when pages are on domains that are sufficiently related, they start to be treated similarly to dupe pages.... not the same thing, exactly... but Google doesn't like strongly related sites to rank for the same search phrase, and they will sometimes arbitrarily choose which site they keep.

I asked a question in this thread that was similar to yours, but maybe different. In part, the difference may depend on what you mean by "promote"...

Safely Crosslinking Sites for Users
Is the "rel nofollow" attribute appropriate?

For the record, as I just posted on another thread, I agree with caveman's suggestion to avoid the "rel nofollow" attribute in this situation.

2:04 pm on Mar 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

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In my case, it is the number of related "outbounds" that are present that keep my sites in the serps. Are you linking to other websites in your industry?

Most people would not even consider linking out, because of diluted PR. But if you are not linking to other related websites, and just cross-linking your own sites, it would seem questionable even to me.

With a lot of "related" outbounds, the ratio is in your favor, and you shouldn't have a problem linking to your own websites.

6:18 pm on Mar 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Seems a lot of sites got hit on the 7th with a new wave that sounds like the -950 penalty. Have you found some of your "missing" pages on the last page of the serps? You might want to check out that thread, if you haven't already...
6:24 pm on Mar 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I would agree with trakkerguy, you make want to check out some of the threads on the penalties.