Google's Cutts: Be Careful Linking Many Sites Together

Jul 18, 2013 • 8:36 am | comments (30) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

linkingYesterday, Google's Matt Cutts posted a video answer to the question "If I have 20 domains, should I link them all together?"

The short answer is, most likely no - you should not link them all together.

As I explained at Search Engine Land with my article titles Google's Matt Cutts: Linking 20 Domains Together Likely A "Cross Linking Scheme" - it may be considered by Google as a cross linking scheme - at least those are the words used by Matt Cutts.

Here is the video:

As you can see, the overall theme and feeling you get from Matt is that it is typically a bad idea.

So the next question I will hear is what about linking 18 sites, or 15 sites, or what about 10 or 5 sites together. I love those questions. Those asking those questions are linking the sites for one purpose, ranking.

So what about it? :)

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for circle of chains

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Praveen Sharma

07/18/2013 12:50 pm

What if we have some domains with information on different topics from same vertical, and they are linked (not on footer or sidebars, instead in content) to each other with a purpose to help users (so that they can find more information in that vertical)? Still a spam linking?


07/18/2013 01:00 pm

@Praveen Sharma - excellent question. What if we have 2 domain names that have a different purpose but they are somehow highly related and exclusively in content. I can see that File Hippo links to another "technical" site from each page and also SoftPedia - to a website about cars. Don't tell me that the "big" Adsense/Adwords partners for Google are allowed to do this while those with small websites will be penalized. Actually, this is the truth, isn't it?

Barry Adams

07/18/2013 01:16 pm

So basically, yet again, Google implicitly admits it is totally unable to recognise a perfectly natural interlinking profile (for example of company group sites linking to one another), and asks us to do the hard work for them. Google-approved 'SEO' is quickly becoming a parody of itself.

Why Comment

07/18/2013 01:17 pm

You've answered your own question, if it helps the user it's fine. Google can hardly tell the difference from all the "blogger outreach" don't mind trying to piece together a pointless network of sites.


07/18/2013 01:18 pm

Google interlinks their domains. Lead by example?


07/18/2013 01:24 pm

Lots of people have several projects. What if they just want to do the same as what google is doing itself with their BLACK NAVBAR on top of I want to do cross promotion by myself with my own projects not for google but for me. Lets say I have the following projects: quotations, jokes, crosswords, cartoons, images, websitetools, opposites, ... all with their own domain and high quality content. I want to put them in a black navbar on top just the way google is doing that. Why is that allowed for google - but not for me? Why doesn't google answer the questions?


07/18/2013 01:40 pm

You are allowed to crosslink your domains, and Google is allowed to determine if you are attempting to manipulate search results. I am not saying you are, I am saying that Google is the judge of what happens on their products. And that is basically the answer: Google can because they own the system, you can too, but Google gets to decide how it views the action.

Michael Martinez

07/18/2013 01:45 pm

Matt says in the video there are circumstances where interlinking a lot of domains makes sense, but he advises against sitewide links in such cases. Obviously he is not going to give away thresholds. I interlink lots of domains and don't have a problem doing so. But I don't use sitewide footer links to weave them all together.


07/18/2013 01:51 pm

Every homepage link (except YouTube) on is to a subdomain of

Wendy Piersall

07/18/2013 05:23 pm

Matt has stated in a previous video that interlinking 5 or so related sites should not cause a publisher any problems. So I guess you can be a small media empire and be fine. But if you grow, raise revenue, create jobs, etc., then you are S.O.L.


07/18/2013 09:32 pm has 30 dofollow sitewide footer links going to its own properties. More biased comments from Google? I think so. Does this help Amazon's sites rank better? Yes. Are they doing it to help their other sites rank better? I think so. Difference between us and Amazon? Billion/million? dollar company with a huge Adwords budget that allows them to do what they want.


07/18/2013 09:43 pm

While you're partly right, Amazon does not participate in Google Shopping and advertises very few products through Google AdWords. It seems Google is more interested in competing with Amazon as a shopping engine, and vice versa.


07/18/2013 09:44 pm

linking more than 10 domains the way google is doing with their black navbar gets definitly punished - no matter how good the content is. marking all your own internal crossdomain links nofollow also does not help. the problem is - google knows either only good or only bad links - but no neutral links. google should just treat all links between own projects neutral. when they discover links with the same ip, server, registration info, adsense code, dns-servers, ... they think they are very very clever and have found some spam links and punish them. but in lots of cases this is a very arrogant thinking and in reality they are very very stupid. if all these links would be spam links - why should people register their domains via webmastertools? instead of putting down the use case. google should fix their algo and answer the question. maybe barry should make a poll how many projects readers of seoroundtable or searchengineland operate.


07/18/2013 09:59 pm

They are not advertising on Google shopping because they run their owns ad network on so as you've mentioned, they likely see Google as a direct competitor because they are both shopping platforms. In regular search Amazon does however have quite a few Adwords ads running - I see them all the time and they likely have a much larger budget than the people that Matt Cutts is speaking to in this video.


07/19/2013 07:49 am

this is BS


07/19/2013 08:07 am

It's not harmed amazon in any way


07/19/2013 08:09 am

I think that the fact that Amazon has a service that *lot* of people find useful has more to do with any ranking effect you might see than a bunch of cross domain links at the bottom of pages. And if you think that their adwords budget directly causes them to rank better, then I think you're drawing the wrong lesson from this


07/19/2013 11:17 am

Hi We have around 15 domains that are ccTLDs, translated in to the relevant languages. Every page links to the equivalent page on the other ccTLD domains - the focus of this is on user experience really. Making sure people get to the right place. Are we likely to be punished by Google in light of what Matt has said? Jonathan


07/19/2013 11:23 am

Ahhh Damian... The 3rd person on SERoundtable that just loves Google so very very very much. You see I didn't want to waste my time with someone like you but I'll take the bait. How in the world does someone like you draw rankings and ad budget from my comment above? Obviously you have a short attention span but I've noticed that others that have a deep love for Google suffer from the same thing... But since you brought up the fact that Amazon doesn't care about search engine rankings, I'll assume that you also believe that Amazon takes their rankings for nearly every shopping related query on Google for granted? Dream on.


07/19/2013 12:04 pm

Speaking only from my personal experience: Language translated sites linked shouldn't really be a problem. We have links for our Asian, West Coast, German, UK, and Japan domains in our footer. We elected to nofollow those links just to be sure that it couldn't be misinterpreted as a link farm. Since we only have the domains so the site loads faster for our international users, the nofollow was a no brainer.


07/19/2013 12:40 pm

Just as you have every right to do whatever you want with your own sites. Google has every right to judge whether your cross linking is beyond the threshold or not i.e. your reasons for interlinking are based on a solid foundation. If you didn't know SEO existed or cared about Google, you probably wouldn't cross that threshold in the first instance. Google bashing is just for loser SEOs who cannot think and act laterally.


07/19/2013 03:10 pm

I'm so glad this has been raised. People have ignored interlinking issues for years.


07/21/2013 09:58 am

Of course Matt recommends not to do it, because it works really well! you just need to be careful how you do it..

Chris Faron

07/21/2013 08:22 pm

Tripadvisor links (in the footer) to many of their domains for each country


07/22/2013 08:38 am

Hi Chris That's an interesting example - Trip Advisor appear to use DoFollow links between their domains too. Jonathan


07/22/2013 08:43 am

Where the same domain name, but different country targeted domain, do you think Google intelligently sees these as alternative language versions of the English language domain or just as completely separate websites, linked from / to the English domain? Jonathan

lez bennet

08/05/2013 02:55 pm

Cutts laughs about too many domains. Google destroyed sites with its animal attack. Creating multiple domains is a smart business decision. Google will not be all over the web forever. Think ahead. Think beyond Google

Andy Merrett

08/13/2013 10:27 pm

Wow, that's a really constructive comment. How so? Care to actually say something useful about why it's "BS"?

Andy Merrett

08/13/2013 10:30 pm

Why so rude? OK, I'll speak in the same crappy tone you seem to enjoy to other people. Are you so stupid as to think that Amazon's massive non-Google-related marketing and advertising has no effect on their popularity. They advertise on TV. They print their name all over everything they deliver to you, even from third-parties. They are word-of-mouth geniuses. Yes, of course products come up on Google as sold by Amazon, but if you want to go for conspiracy theories then why would Google rank Amazon above its own comparison service (for items it can sell directly or make money on commission?)

Smart Cards

01/07/2014 07:32 pm

I agree, google doesn't use nofollows in any of their links to properties they own.

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