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200 Websites to maintain in new job, Need SEO Strategy



2:40 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hello All,

I Just started a new job. I have been in Search for several years but with all the Google updates in the past 6 months I am questioning my strategies for positioning sites.

I have been given the reigns to the network and am not sure how to proceed. Each site is a city focused TLD. I have taken a group of 7 sites to start with for optimization. I moved my first group to their own IPs (I know, it isnt supposed to matter). The last webmaster had a lot of the sites linking to each other so I wanted to try to start fresh, and distance the sites I want to work with from the mess I stepped into.

All the sites are built on Wordpress, and I am using the Yoast pluggin. The sites are all focused on the same niche and I think it would be easier to rank micro sites quicker than one giant site for several cities. My idea was to get the smaller city sites positioned while I take the slow road to national with the larger site.

My questions are:

1. With guest blogging, are all the internal links on a post supposed to be no-follow?

I want to do blogger outreach in my niche and swap posts, but recently I think I read that guest posts are supposed to be no-follow (because of paid link suspicion) and if thats the case it defeats the purpose. I really dont think a potential customer would bother to click through from an article when most likely the sites I can guest post on will have what we are offering.

The benefit from guest blogging would be for the links of course, fresh unique content and possibly brand mention citations around the web.

2. What else should I do with such a large network of sites?

I really don't think it is necessary to have so many websites, but the owner bought them and intends for me to use them, eventually. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


3:08 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

The last webmaster had a lot of the sites linking to each other

Have you confirmed if any of the sites have suffered from penalties? Are all sites EMD - for example, blue-widgets-for-sale-in-denver.com and titles/anchors with a strong bias towards "blue widgets for sale in denver" ?

it would be easier to rank micro sites quicker than one giant site for several cities

From my personal perspective, I'd disagree with this statement completely. It's much easier to rank one big valuable site than dissipate the time and resources to several weak sites.

The benefit from guest blogging would be for the links of course

The main benefit from guest blogging is the so-called secondary links. So you really need to pick guest blogging partners that have popular legitimate sites and a large following on Facebook and Twitter. That way when you share amazing content via a guest post, it gets shared to lots of people who can then in turn choose to link to you naturally.

Guest blogging should be used predominantly to build your reputation as an expert in your field.

To answer the question whether 100% of the guest blog links have to be nofollow, erm... the best thing to do is search YouTube for Matt Cutts videos where he speaks about guest blogging and read between the lines.

the owner bought them and intends for me to use them

Big part of your job as an SEO is to educate your client/employer (I won't take credit for this, I think it was Robert Charlton who coined this phrase ;) Essentially, if there's a huge gap between what your boss thinks is right and what you think is right, you're both going to be disappointed in the end.

It's difficult for me to speculate without having seen the sites but I'd sort the city sites into two piles - clean ones (no penalties, decent backlinks, some traffic) and dirty ones (penalties, penguins, pandas, EMDs etc etc).

Then build a beautiful national site and 301 the domains from the "clean" pile into the corresponding subpages of the national site... unless, of course, the 7 sites you've picked has got amazing traffic and recognisable brand value...


3:31 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi Adder,

Thank you for the help, I do appreciate it.

The first thing I did was put all the domains I wanted to focus on into WMT and surprisingly enough there were not any penalties. My first thought was that all the cross domain linking while hosted together would have raised a flag.

"blue widgets for sale in denver" is basically what every one of the domains is, EMD.

The main site however is brand focused.

I probably should have mentioned that the reason they created so many sites was for Adwords. In the past they had run campaigns to the branded site and has abysmal results. They have had great success with the city focused EMDs. And that was another reason for me to position the local websites... to cut back on the Adwords budget. It seems the potential clients get a warm and fuzzy with the local specific domains.

I do however completely agree that working a larger, more reputable site would be in our best interest, but because of time restraints, smaller sites that are city focused have already started to pop up in the SERPs.

"if there's a huge gap between what your boss thinks is right and what you think is right, you're both going to be disappointed in the end." - Agreed, good point!

Thank you again for your insight Adder.


4:07 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I'd definitely stick with smaller, separate, focused sites these days, especially since Google's "applying things site-wide" rather than to a specific page/section of a site when there's something wrong -- No point I can see in taking the chance on "one issue on one city page/section" tanking the whole thing.

Wouldn't worry too much about guest blogging -- I think it's on the way out as anything much more than spamming in most cases. Better I think to try and develop a social presence for the sites or even the main site in "key cities" to drive some non-Google traffic if possible. Might have to get a bit creative to do it, but I think that's the direction I'd head.


4:14 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bwnbwn is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

Some of the points adder made are very worthy and correct, but as the world of the web has changed my thought process has as well.

I find it better to work specific targeted sites especially if the target is within that city, (this you did not give), and is a very important point in choosing the best answer.

The target for the specific city site is for .
1- that specific city
2- general population of the us or specific to the state of Fl.

Makes a big difference when answering this type question.


4:30 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Right; I have a large number of sites that are targeted to specific states, and since they deal with different types of events, it would ONLY make sense to keep them separate, since someone in Ohio would have minimal interest in the event in Wisconsin.

BUT if you go this route, you need to keep the content as unique to each site as you can. Which may mean you have to develop an overall strategy and then a bunch of individual strategies. 200 is a large number of sites to do this with.

You could divide them up into clean / penalized, or you could divide them up by popularity and traffic. For my network, I have sites that absolutely kill it with traffic (and they're not all my oldest or cover the most populated states, either) and others that are still catching up.

But the biggest thing I did, honestly, was build communities for them (mostly on Facebook).

I link out like crazy, but I don't worry about incoming links; they come on their own. I used to have sitewide links to all my other sites, but now I just have a single page that links to them all. Hasn't hurt me so far.


4:31 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'd agree guest blogging is probably a thing of the past now.

But regarding what you should do with such a large network...

I'd say in some circumstances, you can have a justifiable case for building two, three, four, heck even ten microsites. If they're sufficiently different niches bringing their own unique value to the web, I don't see a problem.

200 sites though? Well, unless you've got significant resources to create quality, unique content on each - I'd have to say you'd be better off long term focussing your attention on creating one big truly authoritative site capable of conquering all.


4:33 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

@JD_Toims - Yes I have started to create a social profile on FB and Twitter already for each of the city specific pages. Just so each site can stand on its own in the social sphere and run FB campaigns to each of the pages down the road. I dislike FB with a passion but there is such an enormous amount of traffic there I cannot disregard the opportunity.

- Thank You JD

@bwnbwn - The EMDs are for a specific city + niche backwards and forwards for the majority of domains. The population isnt in question. Some of our target locations have less than 6,000 for population.

- Thank You bwnbwn

@adder - I found the Matt Cutts video on guest blogging, worthwhile for sure. I guess quality over quantity still stands no mater the medium in the eyes of Google, hopefully ;). Thank you.

I appreciate the feedback all, very helpful so far.


4:40 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi Bones,

We do have a writer on staff. I agree 200+ sites is a bit much, lol. So far the content on each site is unique, but what wasn't done during the creation for most is have something truly unique or a angle/spin that would wow the audience.

Each site does illustrate the area of focus and brings value by being extensive, but not something that cant be found on a dozen other locally owned websites in the area.

Considering what you said, maybe I should focus on content curation first and 301 some of the fluff that has been generated in the past to really make something special for the area.

Thank You Bones.


6:31 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

@netmeg - Thank you for the transparency, I appreciate that, especially the correlation. I have thought about sitewide links in a blogroll so that definitely hits home.

The content is unique but I would say thin and drab. I believe there is a need for me to consolidate the thin pages and build out the depth of knowledge within the pages.

Building communities was something I had thought of (but haven't really entertained), LinkedIN actually not FB. Thank you for the ideas, very helpful since FB ads will be a part of the overall marketing strategy.

Please correct me if I am wrong but, GoogleBot doesn't count the FB links because it is no-follow? But I know a good mix is necessary for a natural back link profile. That being said... the brand awareness aspect alone on FB would probably be the best rout to dramatically increase exposure in the shortest amount of time possible.

Good stuff, Thank You netmeg.

Thanks again to all, I appreciate the help getting my wheels turning. It is nice to have some different prospective on a project... and what seems to be my biggest undertaking to date.


7:42 pm on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Go where your audience is, don't count on them coming to you. If your audience is on LinkedIn, then that's where you need to be, but if they're on Facebook, go there too.

(Notice I don't mention Google+; ork ork)

Personally, I would erase the phrase "counting links" from your brain and never let it in again. Let it take up residence wherever "keyword density" went to die.