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Interlinking Limits Between Same Owner Sites

     
12:02 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I am familiar with the argument that its bad to interlink your own sites…. it's a link scheme, it's manipulative, it's a spam signal etc etc etc. But I would argue that there are times when the links are relevant, on-topic and make sense.

I think most people would consider a link from the Widgetville bakers site to the Widgetville butchers site as being logical. I am sure there are many, many cases where interlinking makes sense. I suspect Google probably accepts that…. just so long as the interlinking is relevant and kept to a sensible number of links.

And therein lies the question….what would be a sensible number of links? Does anyone have a rule of thumb that works for them? Any GWT figures to share from sites that interlink and have escaped a Penguin algo smack?
12:35 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I assume you are talking about dofollow links?

If they are for your users why not nofollow and remove all risk? If you have a site about widgets and one about red widgets, one about green widgets it makes sense to link them up. Because you own them all you can better trust them and avoid long term linking problems like link rot...but to be totally safe, nofollow? As I understand it you can link 100 sites up with nofollow, on the same IP even, and you aren't breaking any of googles guidelines because the links are for your users only.

Can someone correct me if im wrong pls!
12:42 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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This one is curious to me. Every legit brand, including Google, interlinks their own sites.

Some examples:
- The footer on Amazon
- The footer on [googleblog.blogspot.com...] (official google blog)
- The footer on any wikimedia property

Personally, I think as long as the site relationship isn't being hidden, and the anchor text is branded and/or url based, there shouldn't be an issue...even with site-wides.
2:56 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've never been worried about it. If there's a good, user-based, reason for doing it, and it's not done in a questionable way - do it.

And Matt Cutts says it's fine…

[searchengineland.com...]

Just don't be spammy about it. If you have a few, good, related sites then it's not a problem.
3:25 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I do it. But I have gone from sitewides to a single page that lists the sites (with a link to that page in the footer).

I don't use nofollow on any link to site of my own; only for affiliate links.
4:56 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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What @jay5r says.

If, say, you wrote an article on your site that users from your other site can benefit from, by all means link to it. It's relevant and helpful.
5:03 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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From the recently shared panda patent, it is clear that such links aren't considered as independent links and hence ignored while arriving at the final ranking score (though they MIGHT have been considered for determining the initial score).So IMO, there is nothing wrong in such interlinking via the footer as they are anyway ignored.
8:01 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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why not nofollow and remove all risk

Because then you're playing the search engine's game at the expense of the user's bandwidth. We're talking here about links that exist purely because you believe they're useful to humans. So what's the sense of a "nofollow", which means "I cannot vouch for the quality of the linked site"? If you didn't believe it was a decent site, you wouldn't be linking to it.
10:38 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If you didn't believe it was a decent site, you wouldn't be linking to it.


Exactly.

But lets not turn this into a dofollow vs nofollow discussion. I'm really keen to get some feedback/experiences on sensible limits for dofollow interlinking where you trust the other sites (they are your sites after all).

When you look at sites like Expedia, you can see they interlink all of their own sites with dofollows which makes me wonder if interlinking is as toxic as its made out to be. It doesn't seem to be doing them any harm.

Unless of course the authority sites play in a completely different playground ;)
11:05 pm on Apr 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The linked article (with embedded Matt Cutts Webmaster video) that jay5r mentioned is likely to be the clearest answer you're going to get.

In the end, it comes down to good judgment.
12:40 am on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have gone from sitewides to a single page that lists the sites (with a link to that page in the footer).


I take the same approach as Netmeg. Mostly!
1:31 am on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have gone from sitewides to a single page that lists the sites (with a link to that page in the footer).


That's probably a good idea if the sites aren't related, and if there are a lot of them. But in some cases, it makes perfect sense to link from one site that you own to others (at least within reason). For example, it's reasonable for Danny Sullivan's Search Engine Land to link to Marketing Land and vice versa, because the two sites complement each other. Similarly, if you had tourism sites about Zurich and Basel, or Madrid and Barcelona, it would be reasonable to link them because many visitors to one city might also be visiting the other.

Again, it comes down to good judgment. If you've got keyword-targeted hotel affiliate sites for 200 different localities in France and you turn them into a link network, you may get less sympathy from Google than if you had full-fledged, self-contained sites about Paris, Bourdeaux, Lyon, and Marseilles and decided to link between them.
3:36 am on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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lucy24 is right. Nofollow means "I can't vouch for this link". It was originally introduced for links in things like blog comments and forum posts. IMHO, that should be the only use of nofollow.

I know people also use nofollow for paid links, but personally I put all affiliate links through a robots-excluded jump/redirect script that's on the original (linking) site, if possible. It keeps PageRank from flowing off the site. I would never use nofollow on an affiliate link simply because search engines aren't obligated to honor nofollow like they are robots exclusion.

Because I can vouch for my other sites I link between my sites when it's appropriate and relevant. I'm in an industry with a lot of "low quality" sites (I don't think anyone in my industry has a TBPR over 4 or 5), yet Google has shown me a fair amount of love over the years, in part because I've followed the rules laid out above.

Remember, Google is set up as a registrar so they can see site ownership information. Plus you probably have them on the same Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools account. It's only going to seem natural to them that you'd link between your own sites. I suspect they'd find it odd if you nofollowed the links - it would indicate that you think your sites are spammy. If you can't vouch for your sites, who can?
9:51 am on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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netmeg, if you created a useful widget with a link like "powered by netmeg", so others could include on their own sites, would you nofollow the link back to your own site?
10:53 am on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't do that. But if I did do that, I certainly wouldn't use that anchor text, I *might* list the domain name unlinked, such as Powered by netmeg.com so they could find me if they wanted to. Or use some other brand name I'd come up with. But I wouldn't create widgets with links on them, no.
12:17 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My only unnatural links warning came from putting links in the sitewide sitebar for my other sites. They are all related, targeting the same audience but different niches, so I thought it would be useful for the audience to see what other sites I have.

But I got the "unnatural inbound links" notification in GWT

I removed the sitewide links to my other sites, and I got the Manual spam action revoked notification in GWT. So I don't link to my other sites sitewide anymore, be it in sidebars or footers

But I still do link to my site in the individual articles, where I put either Related or Additional Information if my other sites contain the same information. Those are always do follow.

if you created a useful widget with a link like "powered by netmeg


One of my clients (high level authority) do this, and they have never received penalties whatsoever. They all do sitewide links, and "dofollow" or "nofollow" are words that are never in their vocabulary.

I think it all boils down to the level of authority of a site as to what you can and cannot do -- as long as it is not blatantly spammy
12:17 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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delete duplicate post
1:04 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think it all boils down to the level of authority of a site as to what you can and cannot do


I believe this is true, and I believe that links are *still* only one signal of many. That's why it seems like people are unevenly penalized.

As with everything, if you're not reasonably sure where the line is, err on the side of caution.
3:22 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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"There's no stigma to using nofollow, even on your own internal links;"

Matt Cutts
Aug 29th, 2007
[moz.com...]
3:39 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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"There's no stigma to using nofollow, even on your own internal links;"

Matt Cutts
Aug 29th, 2007
[moz.com...]

Has Matt repeated that lately? If not, relying on a 6+ year old statement about nofollow links might not be the wisest thing to do. It seems to me that the purpose and advised use of these things has been ... uhh ... "evolving" at best.
4:08 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It seems to me that the purpose and advised use of these things has been ... uhh ... "evolving" at best.


While the use of the nofollow tag HAS evolved in regards to internal page rank sculpting - which Matt Cutts said was one legitimate purpose at the time that nofollow was created, but which eventually became negated, I have to ask:

Has there EVER been ANY statement from an actual google search team / spam team member saying that a nofollow link will harm a site - either the destination site or the linking out site?

Or has our evolving "knowledge" of the nofollow link come solely from ill-informed WAGs thrown out by the usual suspects of the SEO consulting world, who, it would appear, probably know a lot less than you or I about these things?

It seems that many SEO consultants out there read the statement "sites that you don't want to vouch for" and interpret that to mean nofollow is a negative signal.

I would love to hear of any interview with Messers. Cutts, Mueller, or Singhal where they imply that nofollow links will somehow "damage" a referring site or a destination site.
4:18 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Look at it another way:

There are many videos / interviews with Cutts and Mueller where, looking at a particular example of a type of link, they will say;

"You might consider putting a nofollow tag on that kind of link."

But have they ever said:

"You might consider REMOVING a nofollow tag from that kind of link,"?

The closes thing that Matt Cutts has said is that in the case of wikipedia, he hoped that in the future they would find some way to be able to remove the nofollow links from certain trusted editors while still effectively fighting spam.

After watching a few videos where he says it (don't have the link to them here), I certainly DON'T get the impression that either wikipedia nor the destination sites are HARMED by nofollow; just that the destination sites are derived of the benefit that a link passing page rank would deliver.
6:13 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Wow, WAY overthinking. I'm out.
8:07 pm on Apr 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Has there EVER been ANY statement from an actual google search team / spam team member saying that a nofollow link will harm a site - either the destination site or the linking out site?


That's a red herring. I don't think anyone here is suggesting that a nofollow link will harm a site.

In any case, the OP's question was about potential harm from interlinking of sites.
2:06 am on Apr 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've just run an authority site in my niche through Open Site Explorer and Majestic SEO and I am totally gob-smacked at how some "authority sites" can possibly pass the current algos.

In this post Penguin era, we still have sites ranking #3 for a very competitive 16m results search, with just 4 linking root domains (they own 3 of them) churning out over 25,000 links and almost every link having the exact same key word anchor text. By anyone's standards, this is a poster site that shows why Penguin was created.

I have a lot of difficulty understanding how this type of behaviour, which is exactly what MC says his team is targetting, passes serenely through all the algo checks that catch the rest of us.

... and staying on the OP topic, this is a case where same owner interlinking (25,000+) is obviously not having any impact at all.