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Could links from these two sites be harming my site?

     
9:37 am on Nov 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I have recently taken over an ecommerce site and I've been going through our links and seen something which may be of concern.

To explain, we are a company which has brick & mortar shops throughout the UK.

At some point in history (long before I came on board) an area manager wanted to promote two of his branches in the SERPS so he created a web 2.0 blog site for two of his shop locations and he did this by naming these sites like this:

www.brandname-location1.co.uk & www.brandname-location2.co.uk (i.e. it's not a subdomain or a folder off the main website...it's a totally different website)

On a sidebar on these pages he has created a 'useful links' which includes a link back to our main website (www.brandname.co.uk).

This means that there are about 500 or so backlinks pointing to the main website from each indexed page of these blog sites. Can I safely assume that this is harmful?

How would you handle this? shall I get him to simply remove the link, or should I remove the link and put it in a disavow list as well?
8:19 pm on Nov 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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

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Hi,
It's not regarded as a best practice and it does resemble a link network created for the purpose of creating backlinks to one's own self via sites under one's own control. That is a particularly sloppy way to go about it, clearly one of those "seemed like a good idea at the time" type of projects.

The best practice method of listing and ranking local stores is to create a separate page for each location. If there is any way to add usefulness to that page, by including direct local numbers to various departments, local coupons, etcetera, then you can use this as an opportunity to rank the store location in local type searches for whatever niche products you sell. You can build links to each page by telling local fans of that store about it, etcetera. That way, you can build it in a non-spammy way while creating a link building opportunity for those pages.

Good luck!
;)
11:21 am on Nov 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thank you!

I feared as much but I just wanted to double check. I would guess these sites were created in about 2008-2010 so I was wondering if something that was created from then would still have much weight today.

Would it be enough to remove these links from these sites or should I get the guy to pull down the whole sites entirely?

The second part of your post is exactly what I am going to do! Funnily enough I made a thread about this exact area at the same time that I made this one: [webmasterworld.com...] and received the same advice!
3:49 pm on Nov 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I remember as far back as 2003 being contacted by someone whose music site was penalized by Google. He had something like six hundred websites interconnected.

What you do to fix the problem is up to you. Perhaps it's not really your responsibility to make that decision? Collect the facts of the matter, best practices as listed by Google, a couple quotes from Matt Cutts' blog, examples of how national sites with local nationwide local presence handle it, etcetera.

How does it serve the consumer to have a micro-site represent a local location? Would they be better served with having a single destination? Would the company be better served (in terms of sales) by maintaining a unified destination?

The way I see it, just my opinion, the questions you should be asking should be from the viewpoint of how to best serve the consumer, which itself feeds into how to best maximize sales and profit. I say this about link building, too. In my opinion it's not about the links. The end goal is not links. The end goal is making more money. When you put link building into that context you can see more projects to engage in, less limited than when your goal is simply links. That's the corner you paint yourself into when the goal is just links and na´ve projects like creating microsites is what results from that narrow focus.

Good luck!