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I host a network of service websites that consists of 1 main website and several mirrored websites under different domains; think torrent, proxy, or download sites. Users come to my service but there is a possibility that my main domain is blocked by their internet service provider or some sort of school or work filter. Therefore the service I offer is available from many different domains and IP addresses.

My main site has all unique content and proper SEO while all of the mirror sites share the same content which is different from the main site to avoid duplicate content issues for the main site.

My main site is indexed and ranked well in search engines while my mirror sites are not. I have no intention for the mirrors sites to ever get ranked they are only provided as a means to be able to access my service if the main domain is inaccessible.

I like to place links to my main site from all of my mirror sites.

My question is should I use rel="nofollow" on all of my mirror sites? I am thinking I should because the quality of the mirror sites are very low and I don't want it to seem like a link scheme. I only want these links there as a means to let the user know that the service is provided as part of the main site; I have no intention to try and falsely inflate backlinks.

If that question is too broad or website specific then I ask the following: Will using rel="nofollow" negate any negative effects from low quality links to a website.

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    You can use nofollow but site-wide links from low volume of sites are not going to get you punished. Look at Stack Overflow's footer links, and look at sites with "designed by X" at the bottom. The type of link schemes Google goes for is multiple tiers that link from one another, to another, and then up and up and up to a money site. I'd be more concerned about DCMA SEO punishments as well as legal action being taken upon you for acting as an illegal gateway/ – Simon Hayter Oct 14 '16 at 17:57
  • @SimonHayter The mirrored sites consist of just 1 static page, the search page. Would a link on this single page be considered a site-wide link? All the dynamic pages are blocked using robots.txt. There are about 100 mirror websites that all use the same anchor text with the same link to my main site. How would one track DMCA SEO punishments? – Analog Oct 14 '16 at 18:10
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    You might be able to track DMCA takedown requests in Webmaster tools, I'm unsure but enough take-downs can have a negative SEO impact. Best to use nofollow on those sitewides, because it doest;t sound like the sites have a lot to offer... Google and Bing, only consider the indexable content, so your sites will be classed as thin and more likely to receive a punishment for those links. – Simon Hayter Oct 14 '16 at 18:21
  • Thank you for the information on this matter, I will use nofollow on all of those links. If you post an answer I will marked this as solved. – Analog Oct 14 '16 at 20:09
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What you are trying to do is no problem at all and won't result in any issues with Google.

I will use the PHP website as an example. It is a major website ranking extremely highly. It has a very large number of mirror sites, more for capacity planning and lower latency than for dealing with an inaccessible main site. On each mirrored site there is a list of every single other mirror as well as the main canonical site. The way this is dealt with is not by restricting crawling, rather it is by making sure that every page has a rel="canonical" tag added to the head pointing to the relevant page on the main canonical site.

IE:

au1.php.net/mirrors.php
au2.php.net/mirrors.php
php.net/mirrors.php

all have the same line in the header...

<link rel="canonical" href="php.net/mirrors.php" />

By doing this PHP avoids duplication issues, makes sure that Google is aware that the main php.net site is the canonical source of the page, but still lets all of the other pages be indexed which would allow someone to access a local mirror using a Google search rather than needing to type in the address manually.

  • Can I still use a canonical tag even though the content would be different? All of my mirrored sites do not share the same content as my main site because I wanted to avoid any duplicate content issues. While all the sites serve the same purpose to the user the mirrored sites all have the same content as each other while different from the actual main site. Should I still use a canonical tag seeing as the content is different from the site the tag is place on and the link of the canonical tag? – Analog Oct 18 '16 at 16:03

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