Outbound links aren’t the beginning and end of your search engine linking strategy, but there’s also
no reason to avoid them completely. Use outbound links where these are relevant and useful to your
site visitors and not one time more. And when you do use them, take the time to ensure that your
links are accurate and connect to the page that you intend them to connect to.
Taking advantage of cross-linking
Like many other topics we’ve covered in link strategies, cross-linking is one of those practices that
isn’t black or white but more accurately has dozens of subtle shades of gray. Cross-linking is the
practice of linking several sites together, usually sites that are owned by the same company or indi-
vidual. A group of six sites connected by a cross-linking scheme might look something like the dia-
gram shown in Figure 13-1.
Notice how the cross-linked sites are connected and that every site has the same number of links
coming into and leaving the page. This is a pattern that search engines look for to determine if web
sites are using linking schemes simply to increase their search engine results rankings — a practice
that search engines frown upon. Additionally, cross-linking happens most often with people or
companies who own multiple web sites, and that also gives the search engine reason to doubt
the validity of the links.
Cross-linked sites create a circular linking scheme that can be read by search engines as a trick
to increase rankings.
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