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Should You Cross Link Your Blogs and Does Server Location Matter? Google Tells All

The official Google Webmaster Central Blog has a few interesting snippets for those interested in optimizing their blog for search engines:

Should You Cross link Your Blogs?

Many bloggers cross link between their blogs in the hope of getting a little Google Juice. I’ve done this for a long time – but have found in the last year or so that it seems to have less impact. Google recommends not doing it unless they are relevant links:

“Before you begin cross-linking sites, consider the user’s perspective and whether the crosslinks provide value. If the sites are related in business — e.g., an auto manual site linking to an auto parts retail site, then it could make sense — the links are organic and useful. Cross-linking between dozens or hundreds of sites, however, probably doesn’t provide value, and I would not recommend it.”

At b5 we’ve changed our blogroll strategy for this reason and now instead of linking to every blog in the network from every blog in the network we keep it to those in the same ‘channel’ (or wider topic). This means more useful links for readers and hopefully a little more Google Juice.

Server Location Matters:

I’ve long been aware that having a localized domain name helps you in localized Google searches (for instance a .au domain tends to rank higher in Google Australia’s search than in the .com search. However it seems that they also use the location of the server in determining the relevancy of a site for local search:

“In the absence of a significant top-level domain, we often use the web server’s IP address as an added hint in our understanding of content.”

I find this a little odd as increasingly I’m finding that bloggers are using US based servers over local ones simply due to cost issues. My own blogs with a .au domain and largely Aussie audience do this and have done reasonably well in Google Australia’s search engine so I suspect it’s just a small factor and not anything to get too concerned about though.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I think the best is to have local server with good ISP connectivity, and if you get lucky in blogging you could pay off the ISP bills ( like i do).

    Gr8 Post Darren!.

    TTYL

  2. UltraRob says:

    I started my blog on blogger. When I switched to my own domain, I kept all of my posts on blogger and just truncated them to the first few lines and then provided a link to the new location. On each of my pages I had a link to the main page for the cycling and outdoor gear search part of my website. For a long time, that page had the highest PR of any page on my website although it only a few other external links. I’m not sure but I think a big part of it had to do with my old blog which was mainly cycling related with some other outdoor activites thrown in. So I’m not cross linking an active blog but I think it’s still been a big factor in ranking.

  3. I think it does matter what server you use, and I always recommend cross linking. Good post!

  4. Stephen says:

    I just had to comment here I have a UK blog on recruitment called http://www.recruitment-views.com and I hosted it with Lycos.co.uk.

    All may seem fine but for some reason if you did a search on Google.co.uk my blog didnt appear. The reason I found out is lycos used Portugal as the server location so in the end I had to move to another hosting company in the UK.

    I was fuming and Lycos were no help what so ever.

    just thought I would mention my experience, I hope it helps

  5. CatherineL says:

    Thanks Darren – I was wondering about this. I link my blogs sometimes, but only if it is relevant. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of point in linking to something that readers won’t be interesting.

    On the subject of links – if spam, or porn sites link to you, is there anything you can do to stop them?

  6. Google also tells you not to do link exchanges and other things which have been proven to work. There is a lot of great advice on Webmaster Central, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes Google will tell you to do what’s good for Google.

    I have over 7,500 links to my blog right now because my WordPress themes are available on WordPress.com and elsewhere.

    Are they relevant?

    Not in the least, but I have a PageRank of 6.

  7. If you have somebody who visits your website everyday and wants to see other good websites that you’ve done, at least by cross-linking their other websites they get a chance to see your other Internet productions.

    It would also help in the early stages of the blogs too, if you’ve only got a small number of links then every link counts.

    I think that people who are reading your website for it’s “blogging” nature, don’t allocate X amount of time PURELY for “BLOGGING ONLY” blogs, and are open to the idea of seeing other websites when they arise.

    I’ve transitioned through niche’s using b5′s menu thingy, and think that it’s a pretty decent way to get some unheard of niche some traffic. Of course it’s different if you’re just linking up a hundred MFA sites or affiliate landing pages.

  8. I only cross link when its relevent.

    There’s just something to be said for doing things “the easy way”

    I just think that if you remain true to the content and subject matter of your blog or site that you will gain – all be it may be slower – rather than looking for fast solutions. (Which is what gets people into a lot of trouble in the first place.)

  9. ApOgEE says:

    I’ve read some articles about cross linking before and I’m also agreed that PageRank get counted only when the page where we are linking is relevant to the content we are writing. Playing safe by following Google Webmaster guideline will help.

  10. Kirrily says:

    Darren, I covered some of these issues about domain names and server hosting in my article The Tyranny of Distance: Why it sucks to be an Australian geek. Most Australian bloggers and even “real” businesses going online seem to choose .com domains and US hosting for reasons of cost and convenience, which means they don’t get good rankings on Google Australia. And since Australian visitors to Google are automatically sent to the local site, this can make a real difference. I assume the same is true in other countries with localised Google searches, too.

    K.

  11. Brad V. says:

    Since I only have two blogs, I cross-link them, even though the content isn’t really related. But I figure that if someone likes one of my blogs, then they might be interested in the other. I don’t get a lot of traffic on either one and I don’t blatantly cross-promote them.

  12. Rob says:

    It’s not so much the server location that matters, but also the contact information associated with the IP block.

    We have a server that’s located in NY, but the IP WHOIS goes to a company in England – and our website ranks *very well* for keywords when doing searches at google.co.uk.

  13. D says:

    The location of the server can be critical. One site I worked on recently used a .com TLD and was hosted in Ireland. Problem was – their clients were all UK based companies, which meant that for google.co.uk searches, the site never featured on any searches. The solution was to move to a UK based hosting company whose servers were also in the UK. It only took a couple of weeks before google searches began coming in from google.co.uk.

    You do need to check the location of the servers though, as the fact that a company looks like it is based in one country is no guarantee that their servers are. One of the UK’s biggest hosting companies (1 & 1) have their servers in Germany.

  14. Jason says:

    Since link exchange dead, i stop cross-linking. sometimes, i still got link exchange request, but i deny them all.

  15. Paul B says:

    Cross linking my own sites was something I stopped doing at the beginning of this year. Google seems to be applying negative weighting to some of these types of link, especially if they are hosted on the same IP.

  16. David Mackey says:

    Interesting notes. Raises some interesting question about posting ones link in the comments section of a blog…What happens if the blog is unrelated?

  17. For a local website and a local Google what’s recommended is :

    - to have a local domain : .fr in my country ;), .au, .co.uk etc.

    or

    - to use an hoster that is in your country

    It’s really important for the “Pages : [country]” results (about 10% of the search in France)