If I have 20 domains, should I link them all together?
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If I have 20 domains, should I link them all together?


MATT CUTTS: Today’s question
comes from South Africa. And the question is, “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?” So we were talking about this question
before we started recording. And we said, well, first
off, why do you have 20 domain names? If it’s all cheap online casinos
or medical malpractice in Ohio, 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– 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 from one version of the domain
to a different version. But even then, 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 like on the main
dot-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 that sort of thing. So if there’s a really good
reason for users to do it, maybe you could have a
drop-down, where you can 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 20 different
domains. In theory, you might have
a blog network. But even then, I’ve seen very
large blog networks, and if you’ve got that footer at the
bottom that has a lot of unrelated domains, at some
point it gets pretty big. Even then, you’d probably only
have like 10 domains and maybe a few posts on each domain that
are linked to each other. So at the point where you’ve
got 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.

93 Comments

  • Gyi Tsakalakis

    Love that Matt specifically calls out lawyers. Unfortunately, that's rampant in search legal space. Even more unfortunately, it's still working for a lot them.

  • Dean Gammell

    example: look at amazon.com , they link to all there other business's , can/should we do this, if yes, should we use no-follow?

  • Sexy Monkey

    I dunno Matt. I have 20 domains. All associated with different projects, that do different things for different audiences and different products. It doesn't really make sense to put products that are totally unrelated to each other on the same website. It just doesn't. I think what he's talking about is creating a "network effect." I'm sure you've seen them, "powered by X network." Which, I've always thought was a lame idea.

  • Ken Farris

    We have a a handful of sites that are brand specific sites which support manufacturers. We are limited in how we can link them due to manufacturer requirements. The few ways we can link them , we have always been afraid of. Not sure what Google would think of it. Would love to have our authority shared across our sites.

  • John Hart

    In your case the 20 domains are unrelated and thus shouldn't be cross-linked simply by what you said yourself:

    "do different things for different audiences and different products"

  • Spook SEO

    Businesses may well have different sections of their business that belong on their own isolated website, and want to link between them. Really can't see a reason why Google would see this as manipulative.

  • Brandon Hann

    You can have isolation and separation within one domain. You can use different directories under the root or you can go a step further with sub-domains. The reason Google would think it's spammy to have multiple top-level domains is because it looks at each one as a different site/company/organization. If you're talking about subsidiary companies below a parent, then it does make sense to have multiple domains, but Matt is saying there's no need for them to be linked…generally.

  • Michael Hi

    I am using "domainname.info" – and i am thinking about creating 3 new ones for .at .de .ch – all german speaking countries where i am delivering my goods into, because the .info without specifying a country on google webmaster don´t works that fine as expected.
    But till today i did not find anyone telling me how to do that without DC (double content), because there is only 1 shop and not 3 shops and i don´t want create 2 additional shops just for "countries", because the products are the same.

  • Odin Mayland

    Seems like that answer was too subjective and arbitrarily limiting. If users benefit from links from x number of other sites then googles algorithm either dings it as spam or it doesn't. If it isn't spam then it's googles problem to fix. If it is spam then that webmaster should make some changes.

  • Prashanth Randadath

    I think, we can link all the 15- 20 domains together if they are not spammy websites. Link them together if the visitors will find it useful, don't do it for the sake of backlinks.

  • Jose Galán

    In Spain, there are a lot of people with EMD and crosslinking between all domains with the same anchor text, and their ranks are very good, review this please! It´s not natural

  • Joshua Mccoy

    What difference would it make if someone had one domain in every state? Why would only the domain country extension be acceptable grounds to link them all together?

  • Mark de Scande

    @matt Thank you for answering my question, have one kick ass domain and only work on it with the best content as content is KING, so cool that i can so my customer here in SA that when i speak i make sense as i learned from the best, and the best guy is you Matt Cutts 🙂

  • MrTVTL905

    You guys might want to have a look at N49/GoPro.ca then (and fireplaces.ca, airconditioning.ca, celebrate.ca, and the several other domains they have) if you haven't already. These guys have been manipulating Google for years.

  • John Lynn

    Seems like you're spending too much time in the spam world. You assume that the 15 domains are across some sort of spam content areas and that there's some linking "scheme" that's trying to game you. I'm sure all of this happens by spammers, but you shouldn't penalize experts in a certain area that have 15 sites and want to link across the network of sites. That's beneficial to the user.

  • texxs01

    Why 20 websites? Maybe 20 unique products? 20 different services? 20 different locals for local oriented businesses liking plumbing or pizza? Why is YouTube on a different domain name than Google? Maybe it's like that? We don't have a SE monopoly so we give them all different domain names to increase the chance that people looking for the specific product or location will find it.

    "That's a little strange" Who is he to say that? A spokesman for a monopoly. credibility = 0.

  • texxs01

    Because their algo sucks and this manipulates it to give you better rankings. Not our fault their stuff sucks, whuh?

  • analytic logistics

    They are just being lazy and see it as a good way to catch the ones that are actually being manipulative. They are sacrificing the guys with 20 high-content, visitor-based domains to try to catch the 20 guys with 1 domain name each.

  • Maurice Walshe

    and major publishers have 100's of sites when I as at Reed Elsevier we could not say exactly how many sites RBI ran for example.

  • Rick Battagline

    Why does Google need 20 domains? All of these are dot com and dot org domains

    1. google
    2. youtube
    3. blogger
    4. gmail
    5. picassa
    6. orkut
    7. sketchup
    8. chromium
    9. android
    10. froogle
    11. doubleclick
    12. feedburner
    13. goo dot gl
    14. panoramio
    15. igoogle
    16. adsense
    17. adwords
    18. google-analytics
    19. googleapps
    20. youtubeeducation

  • Rick Battagline

    I know I'm commenting more than once, but I'm quite infuriated by the response Matt gave on this one. First off he's laughing at people with 20 domains when Google has more than 20 domains. (not even including international)

    I have more than 20 domains because I have more than 20 products. I don't think that makes me a spammer, but I'm even more frustrated at the laugh that tells me that obviously if I have more than 20 domains I must be spamming.

  • Mark Rushworth

    but surely the best way for users is to have flags on each site that links to the appropriate site rather than an interstitial menu system hosted centrally?

  • Emad A.Maleki

    Hi Matt,
    I am Emad and working as web designer, I have create several sites and link them back to my main website. Does it have any problem, regarding the question… ?!

  • Pamela van Beekum

    Matt – I do have a good reason why I am linking 30+ domains together. Company is World Travel Shop – a shopping guide for travel destinations around the world. Thus I took out domains for each district / city. I don't link these in the footer, but it is important for visitors to navigate by district and city & links are in the navigation bar. I'd like to consolidate to one domain but worry about losing domain name keyword rank (I know it is less now) & with move. Are redirects good? Any advice?

  • 1stchoiceenter

    Sorry Matt, This a bit narrow minded. Just because Google think there is not a good reason, doesn't mean there isn't one. I promote different types of enetertainment and run & promote individual entertainers websites for them. One site might be for Jazz Bands, another might be for String Quartets. This gives clients dedicated websites purely for what they are looking for. It can also be useful to some clients to what other entertainment we can offer and we want to link to those other sites.

  • HCG Drops Reviews

    Frankly guys, working with Google in mind has restricted my efforts in many ways. I have now decided not to give a damn (hey! I respect Google's effort to combat spam). No I don't give a crap about duplicate content, ranking in SERPs, it is just traffic and conversion, that's it!

  • SelfDirectedIRALLC

    Matt

    You guys are completely out of touch….only concerned about selling ads and not providing decent search results

  • Kyle Alm

    Here's a follow up, if you own multiple TLDs and want to just run on .com or .me, should you 301 the domains or just create A records?

  • Jonny P

    Frankly, I think it's getting a little ridiculous how Google are almost dictating what we can and can't do on our own sites and we must ask them what is acceptable or risk losing out. You could argue we don't have to follow the "advice", but we almost don't have a choice if we want the site to be noticed by Google. The onus should be on Google to understand our sites better or at worst ignore (not penalize) their idea of bad practice, not force webmasters into fitting into their own ideologies.

  • Tanja Mandic

    I looked at some of the feedback however I believe this is a respectable video clip. My younger brother simply wants to become effective with the hottest young ladies. He uncovered alot from a website called Master Attraction. (Google it if you want pretty good emails on picking up girls.) The information in relation to attracting girls through nightclubs in those emails from that site got got him his very first fucks in more than 2 yrs. I became pissed though coz I heard them all.

  • Deron Blevins

    I'd be curious for a reply on this as well Matt. I have some sites in a pseudo network and I would like to link to other sites within the network. They may or may not be related (music, hobbies, travel) – but they're sites I think would interest people who are on the "network".

  • Rav Chaudhary

    Matt, I think what the person asking the question probably just wanted to link all the various domains to just one Main Domain. I do not see any reason for you to bring up the multiple domains on the footer of each of the domains coz what most folks want to do is just redirect to specific Page on 1 Main Domain and NOT be surprised by Google with a Penalty!

  • Anthony Hayes

    Great point and you see Car dealers as a great example of this where they have micro sites for different makes and models of cars as well as locations.
    Nothing wrong with it in that kin of situation IMHO.

  • Anthony Hayes

    I had a client previously who had a franchise business in 32 cities across the US. We created a website for each city and a drop down with city name linking to each website from their main corporate domain. Again, cannot see anything wrong with that.
    A business like that can do whatever the hell they want with their own websites, Google doesn't own them, but if it decides that its spammy then perhaps they are still way off with their decisions about ranking factors for genuine type of links.

  • Michael Baker

    With the understanding that the more who are linking to your site, the better your SEO becomes and allows for more bots to crawl, I always list all domains but shrink the font and color the same as the page making them invisible to others, but visible to be crawled by bots. I've seen nothing negative from this and in all efforts combined my clients typically get listed faster on all search engines. I personally think it's a good idea.

    Just my 2cents.

  • Geneus

    But there is a NEED to link subsidiaries so Matt is incorrect on that point. Especially when the subsidiaries have a brand identity all their own. The parent company could operate more as a holding company that has various subsidiaries that offer very specific products/services.

    Yes, directories or subdomains can do the job effectively but if you want to penetrate the market efficiently and capitalise on appearing on SERPs, a branded, "standalone" company/website is your best bet!

  • Geneus

    The overarching theme to a lot of these Webmasters videos is the need to treat them more on an advisory basis. They are more of a guideline; NOT the highest truth.

    Someone alluded to this point in the comments; as long as you give the customer what they need, that is all that matters. Focus on providing the best service online and offline and the customers will come. Spending day and night trying to adhere to Google's do's and dont's is a futile exercise. Google has been known to backtrack.

  • CaliforniaArchitect

    There are legitimate reasons for someone to have multiple domains. I have a domain for each type of architecture that I practice, and some for construction. Having them linked makes sense. A customer who orders plans from me might also want to know about construction services that I offer on another website. Domains and hosting are cheap, so I don't need to worry about cost. Furthermore, I may sell part of my business, and having unique domains makes it easy to spin off a business.

  • Alan Dodd

    They might have 20 domain names because people might be typing them in looking for goods, services and other stuff.

    The website in question might be in a position to offer the aforsesaid goods, services and other stuff.

    These people are typing names as an alternative to search engines; it's a pure search via the navigation bar.

    There are basically too few developed websites chasing too many direct nav typeins. The answer is a clearing house of some sort, hence parking.

  • fineartfractals

    I might have 17 domains because I have 89,000+ original creations of my own fine art fractal artworks and 1 domain can't hold them all. But I only have 1 live site right now 🙂

  • Jonathan Huie

    1. I think Matt misinterpreted the question as "if a business has 20 domains…" instead of the more interesting "if I, an individual, have 20 domain names…" For example, I have a political blog, a daily inspiration blog, an inspirational quotes website, a vegan recipes blog, etc.

    2. I hear Matt saying that linking one's own websites is a negative in Google search ranking. Matt's comments should always be heard as giving some hint about Google's search policy, rather than business realities.

  • Jonny P

    Now there's someone who knows SEO… "Real.Estate.Web.Design" as a username… where'd you learn that one, "SEO for dummies" or "10 steps to ranking no.1"?

  • Aejay Goehring

    They aren't dictating what we can and cannot do. They sort results, and regardless of how they do it, there are always good ways to rank and bad ways to rank. This is advice on what works well. It would be worse for them to rank on criteria and never tell us what those criteria are. Imagine how difficult that would make trying to increase your ranking.

  • Irene Essien-Akpan

    I wonder how one person can mange 20 domain names simultaneously,and get them all ranked relatively high in search engines

  • Unique SEO Tips and Tricks

    My client has more than 200 domains. I handle about 40+. It's very hard to handle. Day by day. I have to build links and maintain all of its health.
    Every Friday I do a weekly SERP report to see its progress. some have positive results. But, most of them are not really ranking on Search results.
    Even if i follow Google's advice not to cross link this sites. It still won't matter..
    The domains are on the same niche. and are targeting the keyword "escort".

  • Brandon Hann

    You're right about this, but the problem is that if you leave it all open to a basic set of rules and then never adapt, you leave the system open to "attack". In this case, the attack would be spammers and whatnot. If the top 10 Google results for real estate was a bunch of one-page websites telling you how to make millions in real estate, you wouldn't use Google anymore. There has to be rules and over time, they will become more and more strict thanks to spammers and the like.

  • Brandon Hann

    I agree, but as irritating as it is, we now have Google and they happen to be the way sites get discovered now. I remember being on the web before Google, so I understand, but unfortunately for better or worse, things are different. What can we do if people choose to search with Google??

  • Brandon Hann

    One thing I've discovered recently was that my site as a whole no longer matters anymore. It's about individual pages now. Maybe it's because I write about many different topics on one domain, but I wonder if domains don't really mean much these days. For print marketing, billboards and offline ads they do, but in Google, who really looks at domains much anymore? It's all about the search, then finding the link that is described or titled well and then the click.

  • Brandon Hann

    You're lucky…Google frowns upon "showing" different content for users than what bots will see. Having been making websites even before Google was here, I can say I've seen a lot change in the way people find things online and I truly miss the days where people just created real and interesting content and let their website grow organically and naturally. Forget always trying to beat the system…just create stuff that people are looking for and they'll find it. There's no trick to it.

  • Brandon Hann

    This is what rel="nofollow" is also used for. If you truly are only linking a different domain/site for each city from your main domain for the benefit of your users, then link to them using re="nofollow". This way Google won't follow the links from each separate site. It helps with search results because if someone types in your business name, they won't see all 32 different city domains for your company. They'll see the city that's closest to them OR your main domain and all is well.

  • Brandon Hann

    The manipulation comes from dealers creating those different sections as websites/domains in an effort to take over the top 10 results of a search. In order to prevent "search monopolies" Google feels that if a company truly has different sub-businesses on different domains, at least use rel="nofollow" to link to them. Then work on each domain as a separate website…don't try to link to them just to better your results. Get better results separately by creating valuable content on each one.

  • Brandon Hann

    Where it becomes wrong is when someone searches for a keyword and 10 sites come up from the same dealership just because they have 1 domain for 10 different car models. That doesn't create a very competitive market and as a Google user myself, I hate when that happens. The whole point of searching is to find options, not the same website being split into 10 domains. An honest setup would be a different section for each car under the ONE dealership domain.

  • Brandon Hann

    I think what Matt is saying is that if those 20 websites aren't related, they shouldn't be linked anyway. People only do this because they want their other sites to rank better and that's why Google hates it. If I wrote a blog about cars and another about gardening, these two sites should never been linked together. If my car site has a PageRank of 8 and my gardening site has 0, too bad. I should be creating better gardening content…not trying to siphon off PageRank from my car site.

  • Brandon Hann

    Matt is talking about when webmasters link completely un-related sites together. You should only link content that your users might also be interested in. But, if I search for jazz, that doesn't mean I want to see content about string quartets even though I might like both. On the other hand, people might be searching for you as a company and want to see what else you offer…which is fine for what you're doing.

  • Brandon Hann

    He's laughing because he's thinking about how people can hold down 20 domains full of different content. The context is probably leaning towards blogging, so the idea of someone hand-writing articles on 20 different domains is insane. Google is also an advocate of using domains as intended. A domain is a collection of sub-sections each playing their role in the entire website. You have a domain per product?? Imagine if Amazon had 1 domain for each section of their site…it would be stupid.

  • Brandon Hann

    Yes…use the domain space as originally intended. You have one DOTcom for your company and then you create a sub-domain for each site like ca DOT website DOT com for California, etc. OR use sub-directories like website DOT com SLASH ca

    Then all you have to do is forward web requests from each state to the corresponding section of the company site and now you have a new website for each state under one company domain.

  • Brandon Hann

    20 unique products from one company should be under one domain, but different sections. You don't see Amazon having a different domain for each product they sell. 20 different services can be dealt with the same way…sub-sections or sub-domains of the main domain. YouTube is different from Google because YouTube started out separately from Google. They kept it because that's how people know it…for now. Plus Google doesn't link to YouTube from the homepage (unless you're signed in).

  • Brandon Hann

    If you truly have 15 websites that aren't related, why are you linking them in the first place?? If you're trying to show visitors of your main homepage what other projects you have, great…but you should use rel="nofollow" on those links and then work on PageRank, SEO, links, etc. on each site independently. I still don't see why people are having such issues with this.

  • John Lynn

    No. They are 15 sites that are related, but focus on different topics within the same niche. So it makes sense for the reader to have them all linked, and it makes sense for the SEO link value to pass.

  • Brandon Hann

    Yeah that's a tough one because I know Google might say you should have all your sub-topics under sub-sections of one main site. The original intent of the domain space was for that purpose, but people have changed the way we look at and use domains through clever marketing and whatnot. Maybe Google should have never have started looking at keywords in domains names and assumed the content matched. Then people wouldn't have started creating new domains for each niche market.

  • John Lynn

    If I were to have it to do over again, I would have loved to have them all under one domain name. However, now that each site is built and has its own established brand. That's impossible. So, I'm stuck living with the 2 brands and possible SEO penalties thanks to spammers who abuse.

  • Brandon Hann

    I feel you on that one. For example, I had started with 2 blogs…one was a personal blog about me and my life and the other was about my interests in tech stuff…then I started a 3rd revolving around my hobby in photography. I've since merged the 2 blogs, but now I'm faced with having the other site being by itself still due to branding. I could link them together since my visitors might find them both useful, but at the same time, maybe not. As of now, they are still totally independent.

  • texxs01

    Who says? You? Why do you think you make the rules? Amazon has MILLIONS of products. Google has different domains for their products other companies are in their same situation, so does e-bay. Some companies have different websites for different areas of the country.
    Get off Matt's jock.

  • Brandon Hann

    First of all it was just my opinion. To me, a "domain" defines a space that contains RELATED objects. It's how company networks are set up and the internet is no different. A company or individual has a domain and within it are sub-sections that define each area of interest within the entire entity. Phrases and product name domains are usually for advertising that redirect people to a product page on a primary domain. Google has separate domains for separate businesses…not products.

  • texxs01

    Just 2 websites? don't sweat it, just be sure each has unique content and go ahead and link them together, they are related. Linked information is what the internet is all about.

  • Asif Anwar

    The problem with Matt Cutts is that he has gone mad over spam. When he thinks about 20 domains, he jumps into conclusion that it might be spammy, I have seen some clients that have sites for different locations under the same brand. And each location has a site with very different set of inventories. So, that thing is really not that spammy. But, I do think that cross linking unrelated domains would hurt you (Not sure about multilingual versions).

  • Saif Abd

    Hay guys, what's a good and reliable website to check the number of backlinks to your website? Also, backlinks from social media sites and blogs/comments really work? I am yet to see that, how can I test it? Cheers! Saif

  • Harry Manchanda

    In This Video Matt Cutts Was Talking About a Country Locator such as –:  ( https://www.paypal.com/in/webapps/mpp/country-worldwide ) 

    My Question is That Why Dont You Use Such kind Of Locator in Your Sites Irrespective of having so many country domains ( Reference –  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Google_domains )

    Thanks !
    I Would love if i will get the answer for that 

  • Mike M

    1 good reason for multiple domains. Low cost load balancing. ISPs charge extraordinarily and disproportionately high prices if you need to go over a certain amount of bandwidth a day/month or they turn you off for the rest of the day/month. Most of these hosts also will not let you host a subdomain (1 domain/1 account 'www' or nothing) at least not in my past experience. If you have a very popular informational site, which doesn't make a whole lot of money, you may NEED to split the more popular pages among more than one host account/domain to avoid exceeding your quotas without breaking the bank to buy a dedicated server. So once again poor Mom and Pops are discriminated against even when they have great popular content.

  • L.j. Garner

    I wonder what he would think if he saw SBNation, SI, FoxSports or other businesses that have WAY over 20 domains and use elaborate cross-linking strategies.

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