Interlinking Sites - Need Advice for Shutdown

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Hello!

I run a "family" of five travel sites that are interlinked back and forth (follow) from sidebar, homepage, and within articles.

I've recently relaunched the flagship site with new Wordpress template, fresh content, SSL, validated code, structured data, etc -- it's the one I want to put all focus on going forward.

Its rankings are pitiful. Ten years ago, the site consistently ranked in the top-3 for my search terms. Now, I can barely make third page.

My fear is that the flagship site is being penalized because the other sites in my network have fallen into disrepair. I haven't posted new content in 2+ years on some of them. The templates are archaic and not mobile friendly. They date back to pre-Panda, so many have short posts and thin content. Also, they were created when article directories and hubpages were a "thing" so inevitably there are still those sorts of links pointing at them.

All sites are in Webmaster Tools / Search Console. So Google clearly knows I am the owner of these other sites as well as the flagship site.

The other travel sites are no longer profitable, but they do still receive traffic. I would like to phase them out. What is the most SEO-gentle way to accomplish this? I still have 10 months left on the domain terms. Should I:

1) Ride it out and let domains expire?
2) Take the sites down immediately?
3) Redirect traffic to flagship site via .htaccess?
4) Put index.html page on shutdown sites explaining how site has been retired and provide link to flagship site?

Is it safe to "recycle" some of the good content from these old sites once they are gone by reposting it on the flagship site?

Apologies for the length of my question. I wanted to explain the full scenario.
Thank you for your help!
#advice #interlinking #shutdown #sites
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    Your fear has nothing to do with nothing. You lost ranking because other people did better SEO.

    Yup, you not updating site B has nothing to do with site A's position in SERP's.

    On the other hand, you killing off those other sites, kills backlinks to the main site, which can (most likely will) reduce its position in SERP's even more.

    Originally Posted by buchoky View Post

    Hello!

    I run a "family" of five travel sites that are interlinked back and forth (follow) from sidebar, homepage, and within articles.

    I've recently relaunched the flagship site with new Wordpress template, fresh content, SSL, validated code, structured data, etc -- it's the one I want to put all focus on going forward.

    Its rankings are pitiful. Ten years ago, the site consistently ranked in the top-3 for my search terms. Now, I can barely make third page.

    My fear is that the flagship site is being penalized because the other sites in my network have fallen into disrepair. I haven't posted new content in 2+ years on some of them. The templates are archaic and not mobile friendly. They date back to pre-Panda, so many have short posts and thin content. Also, they were created when article directories and hubpages were a "thing" so inevitably there are still those sorts of links pointing at them.

    All sites are in Webmaster Tools / Search Console. So Google clearly knows I am the owner of these other sites as well as the flagship site.

    The other travel sites are no longer profitable, but they do still receive traffic. I would like to phase them out. What is the most SEO-gentle way to accomplish this? I still have 10 months left on the domain terms. Should I:

    1) Ride it out and let domains expire?
    2) Take the sites down immediately?
    3) Redirect traffic to flagship site via .htaccess?
    4) Put index.html page on shutdown sites explaining how site has been retired and provide link to flagship site?

    Is it safe to "recycle" some of the good content from these old sites once they are gone by reposting it on the flagship site?

    Apologies for the length of my question. I wanted to explain the full scenario.
    Thank you for your help!
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    • Profile picture of the author buchoky
      Hi DABK, thanks for your reply.

      So you don't feel that associating with (linking and being linked from / sharing Webmaster Tools) these lower quality sites could have a negative impact?

      Perhaps material for a new topic, but I still need to phase out and shut down these other sites. Is there an SEO gentle way to do that?

      Thanks again.
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      • Profile picture of the author DABK
        There's no negative impact based on what you described.

        Why do you need to shut them down?

        Originally Posted by buchoky View Post

        Hi DABK, thanks for your reply.

        So you don't feel that associating with (linking and being linked from / sharing Webmaster Tools) these lower quality sites could have a negative impact?

        Perhaps material for a new topic, but I still need to phase out and shut down these other sites. Is there an SEO gentle way to do that?

        Thanks again.
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        • Profile picture of the author buchoky
          Aside from the Wordpress templates being a broken mess, the content is very dated. Giving travelers outdated information looks bad on the brand.

          I'd love to completely rebuild them and create new content, but adding another iron to the fire would create an explosion at this point.
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  • Profile picture of the author tritrain
    Are these other sites on the same IP? Or host? You might be better off doing a 301 redirect into your main site, or just build them up and sell them. If you do have them on unique hosts, then I'd say to keep them, if you want, but build them up.
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    • Profile picture of the author buchoky
      They are now on same host. Once were on three separate hosts, but after they were no longer profitable, I consolidated onto one hosting account. All resolve to the same IP when I ping.

      I considered selling just the domains. The domains are 10+ years old and have backlinks. I listed on GoDaddy Auctions just to see what would happen. No bites even though they were priced well below the GoDaddy valuation guess.
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      • Profile picture of the author tritrain
        Originally Posted by buchoky View Post

        They are now on same host. Once were on three separate hosts, but after they were no longer profitable, I consolidated onto one hosting account. All resolve to the same IP when I ping.

        I considered selling just the domains. The domains are 10+ years old and have backlinks. I listed on GoDaddy Auctions just to see what would happen. No bites even though they were priced well below the GoDaddy valuation guess.
        Having them on the same IP means they will most likely have no value to your main site. If you want some benefit from their backlinks you could do a 301 redirect to your main site. It's debatable if the redirect will be worth it, as Google may have already devalued them. You'll never really know for sure. And you won't know if the 301 necessarily has a positive effect.

        At this point I don't know that it's worth keeping them. Personally, I'd clean them up, update them, and try to sell them at auction. Make sure to have a notice on the site that the domain/website is for sale.
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        Domains for sale - see seopositions.net
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        • Profile picture of the author buchoky
          Thanks, Tritrain. I figured having them on same IP and ownership would cause exactly that.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ajaymalik
    Listen! You Can Maintain Your Rank of Google Until Your Content is Worthy and Your Audience isn't ready to leave your Site. Make a eye-catching Title which increase your CTR. Because More click leads more CTR and more CTR is gain in rank. But increasing CTR isn't enough, your content must have to be worthy to hold people on your site. If they enter in your site and din't found it usefult they'll Leave it immediately and move to next which decrease your Rank. Backlink No more matter in Google algorithm until your competition is High.
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  • Profile picture of the author harishkumar
    I want to join your team as a partner , for that what task i need to do.
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    Harish kumar
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  • Profile picture of the author Adam Roy
    FYI - Google made it VERY clear that it is penalizing sites using sidebar links to promote their networks.

    So if you think you're being penalized you're probably right.
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    • Profile picture of the author paulgl
      Originally Posted by Adam Roy View Post

      FYI - Google made it VERY clear that it is penalizing sites using sidebar links to promote their networks.

      So if you think you're being penalized you're probably right.
      Google never said anything of the kind. In fact, the big boys in the internet world link their empires to the max.

      Makes no difference how. Ever scroll to the bottom of amazon.com? See all those sites that amazon owns? And they link up? You think google does not know they own them????!?!?!?!

      They own alexa...yeah THAT alexa website ranking "system."

      They also own the biggest movie data site on the net: boxofficemojo

      Their empire runs wide and deep. And they interlink...and a lot are on the same IPs.

      People that talk about IPs have no clue as to how the internet works.

      Every big name site on the net, owns others...and they interlink like madmen.

      Why? Because it's what I have been telling people here for years.

      The best place to link is ON YOUR OWN SITES!

      So go out and build your online empire. I would never shut anything down that was indexed...

      I'd be a fool not to exploit the plethora of places to link to....

      I dare you to scroll to the footer of this page....

      Paul
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      • Profile picture of the author Adam Roy
        Google HAS in fact mentioned it, several times.

        And I said SIDEBAR LINKS, not footer links.

        Quoted from Google:

        Today we would like to reiterate our policy on the creation of keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites.

        Widgets can help website owners enrich the experience of their site and engage users. However, some widgets add links to a site that a webmaster did not editorially place and contain anchor text that the webmaster does not control. Because these links are not naturally placed, they're considered a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.
        Links to more information:

        https://webmasters.googleblog.com/20...get-links.html

        https://www.seroundtable.com/google-...lty-22666.html

        Adam.
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        • Profile picture of the author buchoky
          Hi Adam, thanks for the links.

          I currently have the older travel sites linked from the new (good) site in the sidebar. They aren't widgets, just regular Wordpress widebar links. Think I should nofollow them?

          Thanks!
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        • Profile picture of the author savidge4
          Originally Posted by Adam Roy View Post

          Google HAS in fact mentioned it, several times.

          And I said SIDEBAR LINKS, not footer links.

          Quoted from Google:



          Links to more information:

          https://webmasters.googleblog.com/20...get-links.html

          https://www.seroundtable.com/google-...lty-22666.html

          Adam.
          please read the links you have left.. they are VERY specific into the types of links they are suggesting you do not use. Widget links are far different than Text or Image links.
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  • Profile picture of the author Eric Lancheres
    Your site is most likely not penalized, it just doesn't have any power / authority.

    Typically manual actions given by Google last for 2 years (some might be lifetime but I haven't see any) so EVEN if you had some sort of action against your website 10 years ago, it would be fine by now.

    Instead, what likely happened is that all the links that you had 10 years ago... are now gone or have decayed. This means 2 things:

    1. You likely have a negative link velocity
    2. You have lost all your site's authority / power

    This isn't as bad as it sounds... all it means is that you have to start building links back to the site.

    Ignore the other older domains and just focus on getting high quality links to the new domain. (Ideally links that are prominently placed on large sites that will send referral traffic).

    My experience re-launching a site:
    I just finished a 4 month case study where I resuscitated an old site that had been abandoned for multiple years. Even though adding new content helped, it was really the links that made a significant impact. I ended up doubling the site's traffic within a few days with new authoritative links.

    The short answer:
    Ignore all those domains (don't remove them but don't worry about them either) and just focus on getting yourself authoritative backlinks.
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    • Profile picture of the author buchoky
      Thanks, Eric. That is my current mission: to ignore the other sites and just focus on building content/links for the newly relaunched site. I've just been wondering if associating with the "bad company" of my older sites that haven't been updated was holding me back.

      Maybe I'll nofollow the links to them I have in the sidebar but leave them be for now.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mckenziesmith
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author buchoky
      Want to buy a couple of 10-year-old travel sites?
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