HoosierBuff

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Hi all,

I have a question about reciprocal links. Say I have a handful of clients, and I got them to agree that SIte A will link to site B, and SIte C, and B will link to C and D, etc. So that each site had one or two links to other sites, and each site had one or two new links pointing to it.

This seems like a very easy link manipulation scheme - since these are inherently unnatural they are against the guidelines, but, would google know?
 

djbaxter

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The idea of three and four way linking networks has been around for years, ever since people realized that Google was discounting or penalizing direct reciprocal links.

Is it bad? Yes, because Google sees that as an "artificial linking scheme". And if Google doesn't like it, sooner or later it will bite you in the butt.

Would Google know?

The amount of computing power that Google has is enormous. Now you can make the argument that they aren't going to turn that power on one little website and that's probably true, so you might get away with it for a while. But all it would take would be one complaint from a competitor and you'd be toast.

Additionally, the critical factors of authority and relevance in incoming links is generally missing in this sort of scheme, and that will affect your ranking even without a complaint.
 

CodyBaird

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If the sites are all hosted on different cblocks and ip addresses then Google will not at an eye at it.

Sounds like you manage the sites / blogs for each. I don't see an issue if the linking pages add value to each article.

Although I agree with David that links from sites that are authoritative as well as topical would be better.

If you are hosting all these sites in the same environment - super bad idea.

Also bad idea if the whois info matches for sites that are interlinking

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
 

Klaas Koopman

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Let's change it up a bit, what about if sites:
- Are all owned by 1 person
- Have topical pages that contain a link to one or two of his other websites
- All sites have some authority of their own
- All sites have incoming links

Would this still be a bad idea? Google knows these sites are owned by thesame person, through the same hosting and Google Account (analytics).
 

JustinB

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Let's change it up a bit, what about if sites:
- Are all owned by 1 person
- Have topical pages that contain a link to one or two of his other websites
- All sites have some authority of their own
- All sites have incoming links

Would this still be a bad idea? Google knows these sites are owned by thesame person, through the same hosting and Google Account (analytics).

What you just described is a pbn (private blog network). Take note with what CodyBaird said, you will need to minimize any footprints to make the blogs look natural.

I have found Tommy's (Ahref blogger) post very informative. "Lightningblitz" also had a very informative post about setting up your own pbn, also his follow up post answered a lot of people's questions.

I will say the links are to black hat world, and I don't consider all the sections on the site negative, but all very informative on what to do and what not to do. As an expert in your field I believe it is the duty to understand how both sides work.
 

Klaas Koopman

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What you just described is a pbn (private blog network). Take note with what CodyBaird said, you will need to minimize any footprints to make the blogs look natural.

I have found Tommy's (Ahref blogger) post very informative. "Lightningblitz" also had a very informative post about setting up your own pbn, also his follow up post answered a lot of people's questions.

I will say the links are to black hat world, and I don't consider all the sections on the site negative, but all very informative on what to do and what not to do. As an expert in your field I believe it is the duty to understand how both sides work.

JustinB, I understand and know what PBN's are. But what if you don't make it private? And what if the links you add on your own websites are valuable for visitors?

What if you build up high quality, authority websites, without trying to be sneaky, and link only when it has an actuall benefit for the user?
 

JustinB

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I apologize for misreading the question. I would still host them on separate platforms at the very minimum. I have a Medicare site that I will be linking to an Annuity site I am creating, they are related areas somewhat, and I plan to link between them. I believe the only metric that will matter in this case that might change google's mind is if the site's have good content, the bounce rate is low and the click through rate is decent.
Here's an old article by Rand that talks about it.
 

Klaas Koopman

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I apologize for misreading the question. I would still host them on separate platforms at the very minimum. I have a Medicare site that I will be linking to an Annuity site I am creating, they are related areas somewhat, and I plan to link between them. I believe the only metric that will matter in this case that might change google's mind is if the site's have good content, the bounce rate is low and the click through rate is decent.
Here's an old article by Rand that talks about it.

Thank you JustinB, that cleared up a lot for me!
 

Greg Schueler

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If done naturally and for reasons that help the end user, reciprocal links can be very beneficial. If done to "cheat the system", you are playing with fire.

The right way?

Say you have a real estate agent client/site. They may have a local resource page where they link to a home inspector, construction company, painter, carpet/tile store, pest control...etc. All resources that can help a user with their real estate.

The home inspector site also has a resource page that links to pest control, electrician, painting co, plumber...etc. All links that are companies that can fix the problems that the inspector may find.

And so on and so on. See how those links are relevant and complementary to each other? That works great.

When you link from one site to another, with no benefit to the user, just to add a link, not so good.
 

JoshuaMackens

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I have to admit I skimmed this post so if my post doesn't conform to the topic exactly, forgive me.

If you set up your sites with a trickle down, you should be fine. Such as Site A links to B which links to C which links to D. Or, you could do A, B, and C link to D or any other strategy that doesn't do "reciprocal" linking.

I would not do Website A links to B, which links to C, which links to D, which links back to A. That's an "open circuit". Conventional wisdom says if you had an "open circuit" your link juice would just spread around all your sites evenly. You want a closed circuit where the link juice stops somewhere, preferably the site that needs it the most.

If it were me, I would optimize all the sites and wait 2-3 months and see which ones are having trouble ranking. Then I would point the link juice to the 1-2 lowest ranking sites. Or, if none of the sites were on page 1, I might would point the 3 lower ranking sites to the highest ranking sites to get a boost to the 1st page. Your strategy would depend on how you're ranking at that time.

With ALL of that being said, you will have to eliminate your "footprint" as mentioned previously by unique IP's, etc.

Now, onto the "ethics" of this linking strategy.

Who cares?

Whether people want to admit it or not, we are all trading things for links. Hardly any Local SEO company is getting links naturally. The reach and the audience for organic links just simply isn't there for a local business. Any time you write a guest post, provide a testimonial, any of the "white hat" tactics (which are extremely viable by the way), you are trading something for the link. Your time, resources, whatever. It's only when you trade money that people get finicky about trading for links and call it "black hat".

Now, do we buy links? Absolutely not. But not because Google tells us we're bad people if we do. We don't do it because those links you can buy are incredibly low quality and put your client at extreme risk. I highly doubt there is ever a time where any type of link you can buy will be 100% safe. Artificial links are dangerous. Heck, even 100% white hat links are dangerous sometimes as we've seen with Penguin.

When we think about getting links, we don't ask, "is this white hat?" The only question we ask is "could this link hurt our customer?" If it can't, we do it. Which leads us to doing what the community calls "white hat" link building anyway. But the distinction in the approach is very important. It will help you make some good calls in some areas for getting links.

To wrap up, if you do the strategy you originally asked about correctly, you should not get penalized.
 
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