The Danger of Cross-Linking Scheme

What is cross-linking?

In SEO vocabulary, cross-linking refers to that technique of linking between two sites. A group of domains owned by the same individual internally linked to each other is another way to describe cross-linking. In many cases, this is done to increase the site’s popularity standing with search engines, which is not benefiting the users as it is benefiting the website owner.

And because Google specifically points out in their Webmaster Guidelines that your site’s ranking in Google search results is partially based on analysis of the sites that link to you. This means that if several quality sites link to your webpages, your website is seen as valuable by Google bots. And while this is not the only criteria that your website has to satisfy, a lot of website owners saw the opportunity of using cross-linking to improve their site’s search engine ranking. And if you have 20 domains, you might as well use those domains to link to each other, thereby letting Google know that other sites value your website that’s why they link to your webpages.

And this is where it can become tricky. Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts said that a common question thrown at him with regards to linking is how many sites in a network is a website owner allowed to link without alerting Google?

Matt Cutts pointed out in a video he released to answer this concern, that other than using 20 domains for blackhat SEO purposes, it’s not quite likely for a webmaster to have that many a website on a similar or related topic. It’s not likely also for the domains not to be “spammy”. And in Google’s eyes, having 20 domains linked to each other can be as spammy as the others.

According to Matt Cutts, having 20 domains would not be spammy if the 20 domain names are all localized versions of your site and you are linking to them. In addition, Matt said that you shouldn’t link to all these 20 domain names in the footer. Instead he suggests to have flags or drop down to access the links.

Bottom line is, Google knows that some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes mainly for the sake of cross-linking and without regard for the quality of the sites that link to each other. Too many times, website owners trade off quality of links for quantity of links, in a bid to outperform competitors in search engine page ranking. Hence, they strategize and build up a huge link portfolio for their website.

Unfortunately for them, Google is bent on making sure that the webpages are ranked according to their criteria so if the purpose was to dupe Google into believing on the cross-links, Google will eventually find out and the website has to suffer the consequences of implementing black-hat SEO techniques.

Manipulating the SEO technique of building links will somehow be detected by Google bots and when it happens, your site (including those linked to your site) will be accordingly penalized. So, instead of getting your site involved in a potentially dangerous cross-linking scheme, it would be best if you just actually build business relationships with other companies in your industry and let the links develop organically. That way, you don’t have to worry about Google.

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