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I am considering launching a second, totally unrelated site and plan to be a bit more experimental with the content and the SEO (but nothing black hat). However, I am worried that "bad experiments" with my second site might harm the Google rankings for my first site. Is there anything I should or shouldn't to in order to avoid this?
Can I host both of the sites on one account (eg as an add-on domain)?
Can I track both sites using my analytics account?
Can both domain names be purchased with the same domain name registration account?
You say you will not be doing anything "black hat" but there is no technical definition for black hat - it's just a kind of slang term. So it all depends on how "experimental" or high-risk you intend to get. If you raise a flag and get a manual inspection for something that really pushes the guidelines on a new domain, then I think your clearly related domains might also get a manual inspection - a real "white glove" look over, you know?
Running into an over-optimization penalty that gets levied by algorithm is not likely to spill over to your other domains - but pushing too hard on the guidelines just might.