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i have a website with some pretty good ranking and SEO that I don't want to hurt, I have an SEO consultant that is working on it and I know he doesn't do any black-hat stuff.

Now I'm launching a new website and I want to try and do the off-page SEO for myself, or hire someone new that I didn't work with yet.

I'm afraid that the new guy I hire will use black-hat techniques, spam or things like that, and get the new site penalized. It might even happen if I do the off-page SEO for myself. I might make a mistake , since it'll be my first time doing off-page SEO by myself.

I read that if one website is penalized by Google, other sites may also be penalized if they belong to the same owner.

As for how Google can recognize that they have the same owner I'm not sure, one idea is according to the Google Webmaster Tools account.

Anyway, there might be also other factors that don't occur to me that might cause Google to decide the two websites are connected somehow.

Does anyone know if this is true or has any experience with this? How can I make sure the two websites aren't considered connected by Google?

And how do I make sure the new website doesn't hurt the old one in case the new SEO consultant uses blackhat techniques and the new site to be penalized?

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This is a really fishy question to me (I'm suspicious/cynical by nature, so excuse me if I'm way off the mark) for a few reasons:

  • Like greg robbins says, if you don't know if an SEOer will use black hat techniques or not, then a sensible/ethical business would just hire someone else. Even though the SEO industry as a whole is pretty sketchy, it's still very easy to find ethical SEOs so long as you're aware of the difference between whitehat/blackhat.

    If you're consciously contracting an SEO consultant and keeping things vague enough that they could possibly conduct blackhat campaigns without your knowledge, then it sounds like you're just inviting blackhat techniques and want plausible deniability for whatever reason.

    A normal business with your level of awareness would simply specify in the contract exactly what they're going to be paying for. There should be no ambiguity about how the SEOer is going about improving your search ranking. (Is he optimizing your internal links? Is he link building? If so, how?)

  • An ethical business wouldn't just be concerned about being penalized by Google. If someone is out there spamming your links in blog comments or on UGC sites, spamdexing, filling your site with low quality auto-generated or scraped content, then that's going to affect the reputation of your business as well as harm the online community. Those are things to be worried about in and of themselves.

    So an ethical business wouldn't be asking this sort of question. They'd be asking How do I know if an SEOer I hired is using blackhat techniques? or Which techniques are blackhat/whitehat/greyhat?

  • Lastly, no one "accidentally" performs blackhat SEO techniques (at least not when they know that such labels exist). Even for a complete SEO novice, it's very easy to not do unethical things to game the system. If you're truly worried, you can always err on the side of caution.

    But SEO techniques aren't arbitrarily labeled whitehat/blackhat. It's only labeled blackhat because the user is obviously doing something very unethical to game the system. No one accidentally builds a link wheel/farm or accidentally uses content spinners to generate 2000 pages of garbage content. No one accidentally spams 10,000 backlinks on blogs that don't have "nofollow" protection for their comments. And no one accidentally stuffs their page titles with keywords.

    Blackhat is based on negative intent. If you have a positive intent and try to provide lots of good content that will generate organic backlinks, use good web copy that contains a natural spread of keywords, optimize for usability/accessibility, use semantic markup that makes things easier for search engines, etc. then you're not going to run afoul of "accidentally" using blackhat techniques.

So in conclusion, focus on not using blackhat techniques at all (and not supporting blackhat SEOs) rather than trying to get away with using them with minimal damage to yourself. I mean, if you use the web to make money, then shouldn't you try to make it a better place (or at least not make it a worst place through your own actions)?

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The answer isn't sketchy at all IMO, I may be an overly suspicious person just like, so I don't always trust SEO consultants to do what they say they would. That's the whole story, even they sign a contract, you never know. –  Alex Mor Dec 31 '11 at 20:43
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Google's algorithms for determining how to rank sites are ultra top secret, but factors may be:

  • linking between the sites
  • hosted on the same server
  • Webmaster tools could be a factor as well

But above and beyond all that, common sense is the rule here. If you are worried about a new SEO guy doing Black Hat techniques, don't work with that guy!

Make sure you get a list of the specific SEO actions that are going to be done (by you or anyone else) and investigate each of those actions individually.

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