I have 20 sites in the same domain, different niches and I want to interlink them for USER EXPERIENCE. I want to know from someone who tested this:

Will using a nofollow attribute for the links keep the sites safe from google link scheme penalties?

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    How create these links will improve user experince? – Aurelio De Rosa Jul 18 '12 at 11:41
  • The best example, like John Conde said is the stackexchange network. – webmasters Jul 18 '12 at 11:52
  • Yes but what I would mean is: Are really the other websites informative for a user? Are they only a put-ads websites? – Aurelio De Rosa Jul 18 '12 at 11:53
  • I worked allot on them and this is why I want to be asfe about interlinking. They have good time on site 10 mins, 43% bouncerate. The problem is what should I use: rel nofollow or maybe javascript links (which I am sure could lead to a possible cloaking penalty) – webmasters Jul 18 '12 at 11:56
  • In this case I see no problems. – Aurelio De Rosa Jul 18 '12 at 14:41

I wouldn't bother and you don't need to look any further then this page to see why. Look at the links to the other StackExchange sites in the footer of this page. It's on every page of every site in the network. If something like this was a problem you can be sure StackExchange, who has direct contact with Google about SEO issues, wouldn't do it.

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  • I believe it's about the authority of the site and the ration between crosslinks and natural ones.. this is why I have asked. Some of my sites are new, not many links - so interlinking them without nofollow would make their link profile very suspicious. This is why I am asking about nofollow. – webmasters Jul 18 '12 at 11:52

Nofollow SHOULD help from a pure outbound/inbound link perspective, but I haven't tested this personally. If Google isn't seeing site B sending site A links, you should be good.

But I think there's more to it than just blindly saying if StackExchange is doing it, there isn't a problem if you do link them all to each other. I think you have to weigh multiple factors, three of which are the type (of content) of sites in your network, their subject matter, and the number of links created. Is all the content created by you? Is it an aggregator site? Is it a Blogger site with copy and pastes from other sites, with nothing but Adsense on it? If the content is original, you're better off, but I don't think completely safe from penalties. As Aurelio De Rosa mentioned above, linking sites with similar subject matter will be more beneficial than just linking all 20 very different sites together. And if we're only talking about a small percentage of your overall inbound links, it probably won't hurt.

I'm facing a similar issue with my network of sites (all related to one industry) that you're trying to avoid. It's made up of 6 sites, of which 4 are included in the footer of every page on those 4 sites. After Googles April/May algorithm update, we saw a dramatic decrease in keyword rankings and actually dropped off the first 10 pages completely for a couple of them (after being on the first page). We received warnings from Google that our page exhibited "unnatural inbound links", of which 2 of the 4 sites I mentioned numbered 350K+ inbound links. One of those sites is a news aggregator, all others are UGC and original content. After making changes and submitting a couple reconsideration requests, we're still seeing the warnings. Our next test is the nofollow approach you suggested. We'll start by reducing those 350k links by some percentage and hope for something positive from Google.

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