Google: You Probably Shouldn’t Link Your 20 Domains Together

    July 17, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

You know how Google has everybody afraid of links? People are also afraid to link to their own stuff in certain ways, and Google’s Webmaster Help video today pretty much indicates that this is with good reason.

If you have a bunch of domains, you need to be careful about linking them to each other, because Google’s not a fan. Matt Cutts took on the following question in the video:

Should a customer with 20 domain names link it all together or not, and if he links it should he add nofollow to the links not to pass PageRank?

“Well first off, why do you have 20 domain names?” Cutts begins. “You know, if it’s all ‘CheapOnlineCasinos’ or “MedicalMalpracticeInOhio,’ you know, that sort of stuff, having 20 domain names there can look pretty spammy, and I probably would not link them all together. On the other hand, if you have 20 domain names and they’re all versions of your domain in different countries, right – Google.co.za, Google.fr, Google.de – that sort of thing, then it can make a lot of sense to have some way to get to one version of the domain to a different version.”

“But even then,” he adds. “I probably wouldn’t link all the domains even in the footer, all by themselves, because that’s a little bit strange. I’d probably have one link to a country locator page, which might even be on domain.com, and you might have flags or something like that, so there are ways to get to those other domains. And as long as there’s a good way for users to get there, then search engines will be able to follow those links as well. Just make sure that they’re normal static HTML links, and we’ll be able to follow, and the PageRank will flow, and all of that sort of thing. So if there’s a really good reason for users to do it – maybe you could have a dropdown where you could pick your country or something like that – then it might make sense.”

“But having the country top-level domains is one of the only areas where I can think of where you’d really need to have twenty different domains,” says Cutts. “In theory, you might have a blog network, but even then, you know, I’ve seen very large blog networks, and you’ve got that footer at the bottom that has a lot of unrelated domains, and at some point it gets pretty big. Even then, you’d probably only have like ten domains, and maybe a few posts on each domain that are linking to each other, so at the point where you have 20, unless there’s a really good reason, I would be a little bit leery of just doing some massive cross-linking scheme between all of them.”

So it appears that even if you’re not trying to “scheme” per se, Google might view it as a scheme, if you link your own web properties together in a way that it doesn’t like. Of course, there’s always nofollow.

  • https://twitter.com/brickmarketing Nick Stamoulis of Brick Marketing

    “even if you’re not trying to “scheme” per se, Google might view it as a scheme”

    You have to remember that “Google”, for the most part, is a computer and a math equation. It can’t judge what you meant to do, only what you have done. Intent gets lost along the way.

    • http://www.enviroequipment.com Enviro Equipment Inc.

      My problem with Google isn’t that it’s trying to figure out what my intent is but rather the fact that they keep changing the rules of the game every few months so what is your SEO practice is perfectly acceptable today may get your site banned six months from now.

  • http://yojoe.com joe

    Google sucks, I’ve stopped using them. Bing is my default search engine. I don’t care what google thinks, I’ve now gone over a year without traffic from them and my business is thriving. I hope Google goes out of business, would serve them right.

  • keitai


    And what if a webdesign agency links to all 40+ websites in their footer and they host the 40+ website on their server?


  • Shiloh

    I agree with Joe that Google does suck but even worse is that they think they can dictate to anyone with a website what links are “ok”. If they don’t like a link they simply could ignore it but when you “black-list” and penalize sites as they do today its become tyranny. Google needs to be regulated by the Government for their dictatorial practices. Their search results are crap now anyway. I also now use Bing for all my searches. I now give all my advertising dollars to Bing too. Good job Cutts!

    • Tom


      You are absolutely right, Google has gone too far and is abusing its power.

      When the scumbags at Google think up a new scheme to make money, then Matt Cutts come out and tells everyone about “a great offer you cannot refuse”. Problem is the “cannot refuse” because if you do not do as you are told then you will be punished in the rankings by the extortionist tyrants at Google.

      I run a small one-man company in the real world and already years ago, I decided not to participate in the SEO arms race. It has been more cost effective for me to advertise on AdWords than paying some SEO guru to modify my website on a monthly basis to suck up to Matt Cutts and Co. As long as Google is the largest search engine, they have a major share of my online advertising budget, but the Bing share is growing. I have already given Matt Cutts the middle finger and since I have no respect or customer loyalty for Google, I will not see it as a sad day when all my advertising funds are being spent with Google’s competitors.

  • http://Www.australianbizdirectory.com.au Business Directory

    You cannot be in game and keep moving the goal post. Google should realize that there are a lot of genuine website owners with multiple domain names and with good intentions. Google cannot tar everybody with the same brush.

  • Tom

    I can understand that google needs to be careful when making judgments on linking to other domains that we also own. However when you see an example like this one you can see how things do get out of hand with some website owners. The only way something like this can get corrected is for google to take some action against it.
    Check out the domain below and you will see what I mean.

    • http://www.stayingalway.info Eamon Moriarty

      I don’t agree.
      I think that how a business organizes its on line presence is its own business.
      It is the fact that Google’s flawed method of assessing a websites worth is still very dependent on measuring links which is the problem. I have no problem if Google attributes no value to those links but I think it would be outregeous to impose a penalty. That would be an effort to coerce website owners to run their businesses to suit Google when it should be the other way around.

    • http://www.rankwatch.com Rank Watch

      Matt Cutts is spot on with Link schemes and self linking sites. It makes sense when you have a link from one of your domain to other when it helps user and not just for the sake of passing link juice or for SEO benefits.

  • http://www.knowledgi.com Mark

    This is a bit bizarre.

    I can understand (a bit) the footer aversion but why wouldn’t a company want to tell visitors about their complete range products, legitimately?

    Is Google cooking their golden goose?

    • http://www.rankwatch.com Rank Watch

      Its definitely not a good practice to link each other if all the domains are owned by a single party. Domains must be linked to one another if they seem relevant and if the context of the content on one demands that. Linking between two may domains regularly and doing it for the sake of doing it is not a good practice.

  • http://www.zoomyourtraffic.com Amod

    Google is trying to clean a garbage heap, it created on its own! Although thats okay, trying to do that at the cost of legitimate businesses is absurd. (or they just think of these businesses as colateral damage to save theirs!)

    WIth due respect to their size, power and reach, they need to clearly rethink their approach. We have been Google loyalists all these years. They need us as much as we need them.

    Google, please think rationally!!

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