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I have crosslinked 20 sites and I thought I have been penalized for this, asked this question and some experienced members told me maybe that crosslinking may not necessarily be the reason.

The sites are on same host, different C class IP and every site in linked to each other.

Each site targets long tail kewords. Site 1 - BMW Used Cars - and my area Site 2 - WW Used Cars - and my area And so on...

When I crosslinked them (in the sidebar), I did it for the users; instead of repeating the terms used cars and my location over and over (since my users are targeted) I just crosslinked them using the brand: BMW, WW.

Targeting locally, my niches are not overly competitive, so I did not need to many external links to rank on various positions on the 1st page.

I'm thinking that when I chose to link using only the brand, google might have thought I wanted to actually rank for BBW and WW, hence the drop in my targeted local traffic.

Could this be?

I now have no-followed the links and I am noticing a slight recovery, but if it's not a interlinking penalty it would be a shame not to benefit from my links.

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4 Answers

Matt Cutts of Google answered a related question "Does linking my two sites together violate the quality guidelines?".

According to him it is ok as long as the sites are related and and it's a relatively small number of sites.

Answering the question If I have 20 domains, should I link them all together?, he says "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."

You may also want to go through these videos on Google's take on unnatural links

Subscribe to Google Webmaster Tools to receive notifications from Google about issues with your website.

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I think it could well be because you interlinked them.

However, to answer your question, since one of the last Google updates, targeting the same URL with site-wide links and overoptimised keyword can incur in a "penalty" (is suspected to be "discounted links", not a real penalty). So for example, assuming you have Site 1, Site 2, ..., Site N, if every Site from 2 to N is linking to Site 1 saying "BMW for sale" is quite risky. However if you have "BMW" for site 2, "Used BMW" For site 3, etc etc it's less risky.

A good way to vary anchor text is to stick your brand name in the anchor text.

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How about pages/blogs that are made from Tumblr. If ever you guys are familiar with it. If I post for example, History of BMW, tumblr users will reblog this as if it was their post but then there will be a link on their post with "Read More" linking to original source. I myself have a habbit of doing this, for I maintain four sites that are similar in niche all are within tumblr, my main site though has page rank 3, while the rest are 2. So whenever I post on my main site, I reblog them to my other sites.

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Links from one site to another in the nav bar, sidebar, footer, so forth can effect performance especially if all sites are linked from each site. Add to this, regardless of the IP address, Google looks at domain registrations, hosts, ASNs, etc. to link sites to determine gaming. You may not have a penalty, but it may effect your placement in the SERPs. While it is legitimate to create links for your users, you do not want to appear as gaming rank by linking your sites together too much. This is an old black-hat trick that Google is looking for.

I guess the answer lies within the degree of linking you do. For example, I cut all links to my sites in my footer opting for citations instead just for this reason.

I assume that if you still want this feature but are not intending to game the system, then perhaps a javascript link mechanism of some sort can give you your desired effect and prevent search engines from seeing it as a link at all.

Clear as mud?

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