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Interlinking your websites works great

     
10:23 am on Nov 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have been doing some analysis of my competition's back links. They are beating us in the SERPS at the moment so I thought it would be interesting to see if their back link profiles are better than ours.

You won't be surprised to find that a number of them are better. A number also have very poor link profiles too. So, quite why they are beating me I don't know. I suspect, it is probably because their sites are more precicely themed than mine. I am working on the theming, getting rid of a lot of redundant clutter and focusing the site more on its main theme.

What has surprised me is the number of backlinks within websites owned by the companies in question. So, quite often I'll see something like: brandX.com, brandXinc.com, bluewidget.com, greenwidget.com all interlinked liberally creating huge back link profiles. It was my understanding that link profiles like this were frowned upon these days? They must be doing something that is not tripping Google's animal algos?
8:30 pm on Nov 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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So, quite often I'll see something like: brandX.com, brandXinc.com, bluewidget.com, greenwidget.com all interlinked liberally creating huge back link profiles.


Well, the good news is that if YOU can see it, then google sees it already.

I think google is much more concerned about links that are NOT so obvious, but that is just a seat of my pants guess.
8:59 pm on Nov 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Sounds to me like you stumbled onto a true private blog network. These have been around for a long time and they mostly stay under the radar because they are used by one individual to promote one website. The blog networks you hear that get penalized by Google are the ones that sell links to anyone and everyone, which makes them pretty easy to spot.
10:37 pm on Nov 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Agree with mrengine regarding the ones that get caught out.

In the case of private link networks, popular backlink checkers like ahrefs of Majestic are often cloaked for, to hide that part of the profile. If they're slack you can find them somewhere else like Yandex, or possibly on Google. A well-crafted link scheme would be totally private and also very hard for anyone but Google to see that a backlink exists.
12:45 am on Nov 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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There's also that symbiosis of inter-linked sites under one umbrella where each of the separates are sufficiently unique, growingwidgets, sellingwidgets. cookingwidgets, etc. If it makes sense then that kind of link profile usually will NOT be penalized.
9:12 am on Nov 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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There's also that symbiosis of inter-linked sites under one umbrella where each of the separates are sufficiently unique, growingwidgets, sellingwidgets. cookingwidgets, etc. If it makes sense then that kind of link profile usually will NOT be penalized.


This is interesting as it's the situation I find myself in. As more of a safety net than anything else, I have split my website's main niches away into their own niche sites. I have refrained from linking them as I am scared of Penguin or google seeing it as spam. So is it acceptable to link them? Obviously I am not considering rich anchor text links, but just the domain, possibly. It's a bit of a grey area as I don't want to add a nofollow link as that's supposed to be like a vote against a site from what I read. Can anyone shed any light as to whether it's OK to link these sites together?
9:57 am on Nov 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It isn't a blog network. The brandx.com websites link to greenwidget.com website as being the e-commerce part of the site. There are also productbrand.com, oldproductbrand.com websites there also. This one competitor has a 500,000 backlink profile for the brandx.com site. The thing I don't understand is that, for a lot of terms, all of the above sites rank in the same SERPS. My understanding used to be, if you heavily interlink sites such as the above, don't expect them all to show up in the SERPs at the same time. It would appear that is no longer the case. I've checked the domain info and there is nothing weird going on, they are all registered openly to exactly the same company, same address, same contact info.

It is hard to see, long term, how this is going to work. A link is supposed to be a vote from one site to another, how can linking to yourself be considered a vote?
5:49 pm on Nov 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've seen plenty of this. My theory (no testing) is that Google's penalty thresholds differ depend on niche. In some areas you can get away with it, and in others you can't.

So you're right. Copying them would not be a good long term strategy. You don't know when things will change.

I've also seen sites ranking on the back of badly-built and very obvious PBNs. Not advisable either.

There is plenty of advice around on how to build a more stealthy PBN that might be a decent strategy if your niche is well under the radar. If there's any chance of getting it wrong, however, I wouldn't do it. Stick to the risks you're comfortable with.
7:20 pm on Nov 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My theory (no testing) is that Google's penalty thresholds differ depend on niche.


Authority, trust, context. etc. might easily come into play, too. There's a pretty obvious difference between, say, 2,000 interlinked EMD affiliate widget or hotel sites and half a dozen legitimately interlinked sites that are related but separate. (Think "universityofwidgetville dot edu" and "universityofwidgetvillefootball dot com" or "searchengineland dot com" and "marketingland dot com.")
12:38 am on Nov 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It's a bit of a grey area as I don't want to add a nofollow link as that's supposed to be like a vote against a site from what I read.

No follow and disavows are removed from the link graph, but there is no negative association related to the no follow or disavow for either site.

In the U.S., it's pretty common for companies to have multiple brands for very similar products. If there is a variation in price point, quantities, reading levels, color schemes or imagery, these can all be valid reasons for establishing a different site or brand.

If I was splitting off niche sites from a "mother" site and nervous about it, I'd probably start with in-content links from the mother site to the niches, one per page. Then, maybe site-wide footer links from the niches to the mother.

Or, just inter-link to one niche and give it 30 days or so before doing any more. I don't think there is much risk of a manual penalty, the question is whether some aspect of the algorithm is going to choke on it.
11:50 am on Nov 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Authority, trust, context. etc. might easily come into play, too.


I'm sure you're right. But I've seen some seriously crappy sites ranking for small but lucrative niches with nothing other than proprietary links. Some context was probably the only thing in their favour.
11:36 am on Nov 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Here is another example... one of my main competitors (online store) only gets backlinks from 2 referring domains. One is his very unrelated internet forum which has about 5000 backlinks, and another is a complete duplicate website of his store which has about 200 backlinks (just a different URL). He is one of the top 3 best ranked sites in this industry for all major keywords.
2:35 pm on Dec 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I run a website agency with close to 100 websites. A lot of my sites link to one another when applicable and I have not noticed any negative side effects. I am careful to ensure that the links make sense however.

Incidentally, each of those sites links back to my website company's site (from the footer), and I have a PR 5 and perform well in search engines for my area.
6:53 pm on Dec 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The links you see may not be making any difference in the serps.

The links you don't see or are discounting may be what's making all the difference.

I've had two SEO companies look at my backlink profile in the past year. When we talked metrics, everyone else ranking around me has like 10-100X the 'signals' that I do. i.e. maybe I have links from 100 seperate IP's, and my competitors have 1000. So why am I ranking? due to factors not included in most of these tools.

Or, maybe your competitors are ranking because of their owned backlinks. It's really tough to say - these things do work sometimes, and sometimes they don't. Either way, be a bit suspicious of your tools. They're good in general, but in specific you need to be careful about trusting them verbatim.