I have DOMAIN A.

A partner on DOMAIN B creates subdomain.DOMAIN-B.com.

The subdomain is a CNAME record that masks beer.DOMAIN-A.com.

So when a user visits subdomain.DOMAIN-B.com, they see content from beer.DOMAIN-A.com, but the browser and content all appear to be served from subdomain.DOMAIN-B.com.

The question is:

If I create a backlink from subdomain.DOMAIN-B.COM to beer.DOMAIN-A.com, is it recognized as a valid linking root domain, or does Google see this as some type of internal link, since behind the scenes it can see the DNS record resolves to the same IP? (beer.DOMAIN-A.com and subdomain.DOMAIN-B.com are pointing at the same IP)

Any ideas?

2 Answers 2


What's "a valid linking root domain"? It doesn't mean anything to me. A link is a link and that will count as a link. Now what will its value be? That will vary depending on lots of factors and being on the same IP address might be one of them. It's hard to say because in-and-of itself that doesn't mean anything. There can be thousands of websites sharing an IP address all of which have no relationship to each other. So other factors are probably put into place when considering whether there is a relationship between the two sites beyond a link. You can bet domain registrations will be reviewed. But in the end it's hard to say exactly what the ultimate value of that link will be.

  • Thanks John - the term 'valid linking root domain' is how SEOMoz (in their Pro product) define a link from an external domain that is passing link equity (dofollow). In their words: "Number of unique root domains (e.g. *.example.com) containing at least one linking page to this domain." Sep 9, 2013 at 16:46

It is unclear whether Google even uses "number of linking root domains" as a metric in determining rankings. SEOMoz has found some correlation, but it is unclear that it is causative.

In any case, you appear to be wanting to use a link scheme for the purposes of boosting you rankings. Even if you were to get Google to recognize different domains that you link between, you would likely get penalized for having a "network of sites".

Spend your time creating a great site and amazing user experience rather than trying to game Google like this. Nobody knows how Google's algorithm is written at this level. Trying to beat the system is like playing with fire. Even if you find something that works, Google may adjust the algorithms and you'll be penalized.

  • Thanks Stephen. Consider Tumblr, or even Wordpress.. they offer 'custom domain' support for their platforms, which essentially creates this scenario for thousands (millions?) of their users. I create blog.jgentes.com and it is a CNAME of jgentes.wordpress.com and assuming there's some type of link in the footer that says 'powered by wordpress', we've just created the scenario I've described. It's hard to believe Google would penalize for this. It's not a link scheme. It's simply a characteristic of a product feature. Sep 10, 2013 at 15:25
  • Google can and does penalize for footer links. Their link schemes page specifically points out as unnatural links that violate their guidelines: "Widely distributed links in the footers of various sites." You would be most at risk using link anchor text other than your brand name for such links, but these days Google is cracking down on all footer links. Sep 10, 2013 at 16:20
  • Thanks for the link schemes page info, I gave it a read and noticed the footer reference. Although I've seen those schemes before, and that's very different than what I'm planning. Even so, I may avoid using overly optimized anchor text just to be safe. Sep 10, 2013 at 21:27

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