We’ve had a few questions about fraternal linking and its impact on search engine ranking.
What Is Fraternal Linking?
Fraternal linking generally describes cross-linking sites that are hosted by the same company, share the same IP range, have the same whois information or are in some other way related. These sites don’t have to be about the same topic, but are connected through their ownership structure. For example, a person or company may own a dozen websites, of which one is the main revenue-earner. The website owner can then try to use cross-linking from the other eleven sites to boost the ranking of the most profitable site.
Fraternal linking is regarded as a questionable search engine spamming practice, and it is said that Google’s Bourbon update back in May 2005 included algorithm changes to better detect and de-value fraternal linking techniques.
While meaningful linking of topically related sites, regardless of ownership, continues to be perfectly acceptable, we strongly recommend against cross-linking of unrelated sites purely for the purpose of increasing one site’s ranking. Chances are you’ll get into serious trouble with Google and other search engines.