In a recent video, Google's Matt Cutts advises that marketers keep SEO strategies simple. Complicated link building can seem spammy.

The simplest solution to a given problem is always best. So, webmasters who find themselves struggling to create a link scheme that adheres to Google’s standards for SEO content without sacrificing aesthetic appearance might need to take a step back. That was the message in Matt Cutts’ most recent Webmaster Help Channel video, in which he answered a publisher’s question about whether a company that owns 20 domain names should link them altogether and/or use nofollow to prevent PageRank from passing between them.

Get to the bottom of the problem

The short answer to the question was that a webmaster with 20 domain names should find a way to link between the sites if it improves user experience. If linking between them hinders navigation or site design, it might not be smart and can even make web content seem spammy.

Cutts’ long answer to the question was that he could think of very few reasons why a publisher would need 20 domain names in the first place, unless it was an international company that had sites for the countries in which it operates. In that circumstance, you could make a case for creating a single page or drop-down menu containing all the links, so it’s easy for users to find the version they need.

“I would be a little bit leery about doing some massive cross-linking scheme across all of them.”

“At the point where you’ve got 20 – unless there’s a really good reason – I would be a little bit leery about doing some massive cross-linking scheme across all of them,” Cutts says, adding that having a high number of domain names can set off spam triggers in the first place.

Link building is not illegal

Cutts has been a link advocate this year, warning SEOs about the impending Penguin 2.0 algorithm and the dangers of black hat content marketing practices. Brafton recently covered an interview in which Cutts responds to a misconception that link building is an illegal SEO practice, given the penalties they face for spammy practices.

“It’s very clear-cut: hacking blogs, that sort of thing is illegal.”

“It’s funny because there are some types of link building that are illegal, but it’s very clear-cut: hacking blogs, that sort of thing is illegal,” he states.

There are plenty of link-building strategies that can improve SEO value without putting a webmaster into questionable territory. First and foremost is creating branded content that compels readers to share. However, marketers can also fuel interest by promoting blogs posts and articles by repurposing them as social media content.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.