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Step 4: Plan Network Architecture

Now that you’ve identified your digital footprint, you need to clean it up. One of the more obscure issues in SEO is that of shared IP addresses. Larger corporations often have their own dedicated server web hosting. And particularly if they have been buying up smaller companies, they represent multiple web properties. The larger corporation can host them together on the same server for reasons of IT security and convenience. The larger of these sites are presumably not WordPress because complex, large corporate sites must be integrated with a number of large technologies such as Customer Resource Management (CRM) databases for sales data or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems with customer login accounts and finances. Smaller company websites or blogs (I would say less than 150 pages), however, may very well be WordPress. Regardless, an SEO might be tempted to set up inbound linking strategies and multiple content posting opportunities among the various sites.

You may have the same idea for setting up industry directories and multiple blogs for SEO effects on your own smaller-scale hosting service for, let’s say, a small eCommerce site or multiple clients within the same industry you serve.

First, too many websites are like honeycombs where there are valuable pages full of honey but a lot of sections that have no value. Don’t force your site structures to be so imbalanced. Don’t spread all your link juice around your own field. In other words, do not devalue your own outbound links by passing their value to others of your same sites. Bigger than the loss of link juice within your own network, rumor has it that Google ignores (or possibly might penalize) heavy linking and content sharing within the same IP address. That’s right—search engines look at IP addresses. So those 20 URLs you bought and have shared on the same GoDaddy server? Google knows—it always knows!

That is also why I recommend to clients that they spend the extra web hosting dollars to get a dedicated IP address (not necessarily a dedicated server, just a singular IP address for their domain/s). You don’t want Google affiliating you with porn sites or directory/advertising scam sites that might be housed on the shared IP hosting offered by your web server.

So you’ve said your mea culpa, placed your most important content building on one primary domain to preserve link juice, identified any questionable outbound links and made notes for “noFollows,” and so on. You still have those 50 other domains you purchased. What to do?

So now we know not to architect or encourage elaborate linking networks or build content across multiple sites and blogs that could be forged to enhance our one major site. But what if our digital audit reveals multiple past blogs, online articles, social profiles, and the like (assuming we can still access the content and profiles within)? List those and draw a diagram if you can to help keep your web resources in check (see Figure 3.6). However, if you have found old sites with blog content, that may be exported and imported into your new, primary WordPress site (if it makes sense to do so).

Figure 3.6

Figure 3.6 Planning network architecture.

These are the elements of network architecture; identify them, think through them, and use them to your best SEO advantage rather then merely let old web resources sit without thought. Remember, they still represent your reputation out there on the Web.

After you have identified all appropriate assets of your own digital footprint, you need to identify specifically if and how you want them changed. So often these old web properties will list incorrect official company/brand names, URLs, and contact info (location directories are a prime example—we’ll dive more into these in Chapters 7 and 8). I recommend filling out a form for each web property to follow up on.

Identification of Brand Mentions’ Third-Party Web Assets to Change

  • Description of the web channel.
  • List the URL or mobile app.
  • What’s the problem, or incorrect copy?
  • Do you control it? If so, list the account access URL, username, and password.
  • Who to contact?
  • Is it better to remove the mention/web asset altogether, or change it? Why?
  • What do you want to change it to?
  • Ideally when would you like it changed?
  • Date of contact.
  • What transpired?
  • Backup plan if nothing can be changed.
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