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Will Dealer Group Portal Websites Trigger SEO Penalties From Google?

I received a call yesterday from a Dealer that was negatively impacted by the Google Penguin update.  Their organic search traffic is down about 25% and they asked me to take a look at their Analytics and Webmaster Tools.

The frustrating part is that their marketing and "SEO Company" deleted the message inside of Webmaster Tools alerting the dealer that Google had some concerns about the linking strategy used by the dealership.  So without a specific message to go on, I looked at the links that were built.

What I noticed was that this "SEO Company" had submitted their site to a number of sketchy directory (link building) websites that would be classified as link farms.

If you need an example of what these sites look like, check out: 

From the screen shot on the right you can see that this is a very attractive and professional site.  NOT.

Well in any case, their website URL on this site alone had 1,197 links pointing back to their home page.

As I went through their linking list, it was clear that someone used an automated tool to submit their URL to these bullshit sites, whose only goal was to product high volume, low relevancy links.   I advised this dealer to get their website removed from these poor quality and suspect sites.

What About Group Portal Sites

As I was going about the review, I noticed something that I never really thought about but in the "Post Penguin"  era, everything has to be looked at with a different eye.  What I noticed was that their group portal site had created 76,846 links to the home page of their Nissan website.

A group portal site is one where a number of stores are combined into one site that shares inventory and information for all stores in the group.

How did these 76,846 links get created?  The group site had links on Vehicle Detail Pages that pointed to the store's website that had the car in stock.  There were also a number of forms on the group site that linked to the dealer's site on words like "Driving Directions & Maps".  Neither of these links are adding any SEO value to the individual store's website.

So, I started to think would Google find these high volume links as suspicious? So here is my recommendation.  If you have a group site that utilizes sidebar links on VDP pages, credit forms, or information pages back to a store website, contact your website provider and ask them to make them "No follow" links.    This is not an overnight change, but it is one that all website providers who have created group sites should consider.

Portal Sites Are Not Bad

Are thousands of links from the group portal website the cause of the problem?  No.  I think the shady SEO link farms were the issue here otherwise many more dealer groups would be screaming.

However, with Google seriously looking at link quality, there is no reason to make (Non SEO) user navigation links from portal site pages "follow" links. This is a very easy change if the website development community agrees with me and updates their master templates on Group Sites to use the "no follow" tag on templated pages.

To make a link "no follow" this line of code is added to the link on the HTML coding of the page:  rel="nofollow"


Do you have any specific questions, feel free to drop me a line:  If you enjoyed this post please share it on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

And don't forget that the latest updates on Google SEO strategies, the impact of the Google Penguin update, and why Google+ Local is changing SEO tactics will be presented by industry leaders at, September 5-8th at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas.

I can't wait to hear what JD Rucker has to say about all the recent changes...


Brian Pasch CEO of PCG

Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Digital Marketing

Brian Pasch

Views: 128

Tags: autocon 2012, google penguin, group websites, portal websites


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Comment by J.D. Rucker on June 22, 2012 at 12:00pm

I can't wait to talk more about the changes at AutoCon!

I was getting a little worried there in the second section, Brian, but then you said, "Are thousands of links from the group portal website the cause of the problem?  No.  I think the shady SEO link farms were the issue here otherwise many more dealer groups would be screaming."

As Brian recommends, the mass links on group portal pages can definitely be made nofollow as they are pretty much worthless either way and they actually spread the followed link juice thinner than it should be from page to page, but the main thing here is the spam. It used to be thought that negative SEO was ineffective, but now Google has put their foot down and forced SEO companies to be more selective and careful with the quantity, quality, style, placement, and anchors associated with links.

Great catch, Brian!

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