This test was by Carolyn Holzman. They were doing some work for a local business and were looking at re-engineering for them what was already working on page one for sites that ranked for their desired term. They found a site that was a Weebly site with a custom domain.
Digging down, not only did they find a Weebly PBN of sorts, they found that they were building backlinks in multiple ways. The most creative of which was using the natural Weebly URLs in their web builder (Ex: www.mysitename.weebly.com/page-on-keyword.html) to interlink all the pages and all the sites.
For this test, they checked if the Weebly 301s are actually being read by Google and if they help with rank.
Five test pages were set up on a Weebly site and a Google doc was linked to the #5 ranking page.
Once ranking seemed stable, the Google doc with the related 301 weebly link from their website builder (garagedoorrepairaustinnow.weebly.com/spaqsists-dkls-wmksgf.html) was submitted to the Google URL submitter.
The test page rose up to #1. Clearly, a backlink built to the 301 of a Weebly page impacts the test page.
What is so exciting about this is that using the baked in 301 URL from Weebly, one can build any number of “defensible” backlinks. When you have two URLs for the same page, you can build the backlinks to the 301 version.
In this video, Clint discusses this test and how he would apply it.
Test 81 – Does Google See A Weebly 301 And Will You Get Credit For It.
So what we’re talking about in regards to credit is if you have a custom domain inside of Weebly and then you’re using their editor to edit your site – their website builder. When you’re inside of there, you don’t see the custom domain URL, you actually see this shortened subdomain from weebly.com. And a website owner was actually using that subdomain and interlinking his pages using that subdomain URL versus the customer domain URL and inter linking their sites, their Weebly sites, their set of custom domains, and essentially created a Weebly pbn, for a lack of better term. And we wanted to see if that was actually working to help increase their rankings.
So we set this test up with five pages on the Weebly test site and we got those pages indexed and verified that the ranking, ups and downs it all stopped and shaken out, and then created a Google doc and linked to the lowest ranking page of the five.
And then that 301 was essentially set up so we linked with the 301 with the subdomain URL, not the actual custom domain URL that’s on. That’s this host. I don’t necessarily say that as expected, but because it is a 301, it did pass juice, and the links to test page increased in rankings as a result of a link from the Google Doc.
So that’s pretty cool. And it’s cool because if you are using one of these systems, these web page builder systems like a Weebly, for example, and you accidentally use that subdomain URL in your inner linking, it’s not really necessarily the end of the world. And it’s also another opportunity where you can actually send links to that subdomain, it’s not on your custom domain and potentially, you can hide all that stuff that you’re doing in your builds.
I say potentially because eventually a savvy SEO will be able to figure that stuff out. But for the most part, the uninformed or the unsavvy as it were, if that’s even a word, will have a harder time reverse engineering what you did.
So check this out. Again, if you’re using Weebly, check it out. I don’t know about the other platforms that the free website builders, etc. and see if that’s possible. But you can certainly check this out with the WordPress.com Custom domains for example, and see if that same sort of functionality is there and create this opportunity for you.
From practical sense, here’s what I would do with it. Let’s say I had an extra domain and I wanted to rank multiple domains for a keyword, this will be one of the options. The hosting will essentially be taken care of by Weebly, right, and then you could build that copy of that website or the one page lander or whatever you wanted to do, and leverage this a little bit, and rank multiple domains for the same terms, allowing you to kind of own that market space, as it were. So it’s definitely an option for a use case.