Cross-linking your own websites

Posted by Muslim on Thursday, September 1, 2011 
Cross-linking your own websites is an issue that comes up quite a  lot. It seems logical to cross-link all the websites you own to spread the traffic across the website network and maximize the return on your traffic. However this can look spammy to search engine bots and it can result in links being devalued or worse result in severe drop in search engine rankings. So when is cross-linking OK and when is it an issue?

Links are the lifeblood of the web and linking predates search engines so there is nothing inherently wrong with linking. Abuse of  linking to scam search engines and gain rankings has long been an issue and so search engines have algorithms to try to mitigate this.

Linking in a footer

It is common to link websites together using a common footer link. Usually the text is identical on all linked websites and often identifies a company or brand that runs the network of websites. For example, all websites run by MTV might have a link to the main MTV website in the footer at the bottom of all the pages on their websites. It is likely that a link like this is heavily discounted in the search engines and is more for brand image than for search engine ranking. It is also likely that you will not get penalized for this so long as there are other links that are of good quality which help the page rank.

Linking unrelated websites

Creating links to websites you own which have unrelated topics is tempting especially since you control the anchor text in the link. Usually the webmaster of the other website linking to yours creates the anchor text in the link and you have to live with it. Linking websites with unrelated topics is usually not a good idea. It is hard to fit the text needed into a post or page on a different topic and it is unlikely to be of interest to your visitors. There is some evidence that search engine bots look at the context of a link e.g. the surrounding text on the page so an off-topic link may be seen as out of place and devalued or mis-categorized.

Link your websites with similar topics

Think of your visitors first and you rarely will go wrong. Find out as much as you can about your website visitors and then look to create links that would interest your visitors to your other websites. Don’t forget to “advertise” your other related websites on your own website. Using a text link with the body of text of a page is highly recommended but you can also create a graphic ad and display it to attract visitors from an informational website to a commercial website, both of which you own.

Website networks on related topics can be very powerful. I always look carefully at search terms used to find a website and look for terms that might suggest another interest for those visitors. You can then either advertise to those visitors directly on that website or you can set up another website on the related topic and pitch to them there.

So if you have a tennis website, you might want to consider a sports injury website or sports clothing or sports supplies websites. Building around a topic allows you to retain the visitor within your network and increase the chances that you will get a financial return from that visitor.
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