The latest Google Webmaster Help video featuring Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts brings up the topic of the proper way to handle multiple domains. Should you be linking them altogether?
In the past, it was quite common to see a website linked to 20 or 30 different related websites. But in a lot of those situations, the sites were pretty spammy. And this is the one caveat that Cutts brings up in the video.
Cutts said if you have multiple sites you want to link together you need to have a very good reason to be linking them together, otherwise it will come across as being spammy. Why do you have 20 domain names that you feel should be all cross-linked?
Cutts said about the only situation where this kind of solution is viable is if you're linking multiple country site for the same company together. But even then, he suggested that you do it in a way that won't come across as spamming. This means instead of having 30 footer links to all the different locations, find a smarter way to do this.
"If you have 20 domain names and they’re all versions of the domain in different countries, such as Google.co.za, Google.fr, it can make a lot of sense to be able to get from one version of the domain to a different version. But even then I probably wouldn’t link all the domains all in the footer all by themselves because that’s a little bit strange," Cutts said.
"I’d probably have one link to a country locator page, which might even be on the main .com, that might have flags or something like that so there are ways to get to those other domains. And as long as there is a good way for users to get there than search engines will be of the follow those links as well. Just make sure their normal static HTML and we will be able to follow them and PageRank will be able to flow."
Having multiple country domains is about the only reason why someone would link to multiple sites in a footer legitimately, according to Cutts.
He brings up cases where blog networks were linking other blogs together. He has seen networks that have large links to multiple unrelated blogs. But generally, you should try to keep everything within the same domain to prevent mass cross-linking, and prevent any massive cross-linking schemes between sites, unless it is something like the location issue.