We have a dealer network that sells our products, as a bonus we give them an extra 25% off our products from the normal wholesale price if they put our products on their site.

We recently got hit with a Google manual penalty so we enlisted the help of "LinkDelete" to help us get rid of all the backlinks. Some of our dealer websites are in the list of bad backlinks they gave us. They told us this is because of duplicate content.

What we do is give our dealers HTML snippets so they can just copy and paste it on their site. The HTML contains absolute URLs to pictures of our products, short descriptions, and links back to our website.

We want our SEO rankings restored, so do we just tell our dealers to remove our links?

  • 2
    Stop linking back to resources on your site and provide a MUCH larger pool of marketing/testimonials/whatever your HTML snippets are. Have your people copy all images and so forth to their site. Create many different logos, images, videos, and so on. Diversification is the key and stopping all the hot-linking to resources on the parent site. Either that or you create a page on your site for each entity.
    – closetnoc
    Apr 30, 2014 at 14:18
  • Duplicate content is exactly what it means... it has nothing to do with links. You should first establish if you either been hit for bad links or bad content. Removing even out bound links can hurt your rankings because linking out can be benefitial to your own rankings too. If they are copying word for word of your site and Google considers or discovers their pages before yours then you will be marked duplicate. Ideally you should provide them separate text from your own, or rewrite your content. Apr 30, 2014 at 15:11
  • @bybe the manual action in Google is for unnatural linking. It was LinkDelete who told us about the duplicate content. You are correct the content is word for word what we have on our own site for the product descriptions, pictures and links. Our boss had purchased thousands of back links previous to my employment and I was tasked with investigating why our rankings dropped dramatically. Apr 30, 2014 at 16:19
  • So by manual action you mean you got a message by Google in your Webmaster Tools message box? Apr 30, 2014 at 20:05
  • Never purchase backlinks, rent them, trade/exchange them, and otherwise participate in an organized linking scheme other than proper and natural quid pro quo or good natured kindness on a one to one basis. Purchasing links was your first mistake. Hot linking resources back to the parent domain was your second mistake. And over use of duplicate content was your third mistake. Take care of these and you will be fine. BTW- this is not a rank problem, but a SERP problem. These activities do not effect site rank but how you appear in the SERPs. This means you can fix this relatively quickly.
    – closetnoc
    May 1, 2014 at 1:36

2 Answers 2


Start by making those backlinks nofollow in your snippets and tell your dealers to make them nofollow too. Your way of creating backlinks is now considered illegitimate. You will not recover the rankings your used to have through them, unfortunately.

  • Don't forget to approve an answer if you like it, thanks! Aug 25, 2014 at 17:30

If you are worried about duplicate content, then asking affiliates to use the canonical tag would work.

I personally suspect any penalty will be more about the links. If it was duplicate content, then your affiliates would also have been hit (well, whichever Google chose as canonical would do fine, and the others would be pushed down the rankings).

Google's page on handling affiliate links isn't actually that helpful.. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/76465?hl=en

They seem to ignore the fact that affiliate marketing is common - large sites like Amazon and Ebay both allow users to sell from their own websites.

Looking into how Amazon handle it, they host the content and get their affiliates to link to it via an iframe. That's probably more about ease-of-setup, but would be one way of keeping the content hosted on your site only.

Nofollowing the links would show that it isn't intended as a link scheme.

Finally, if the links are only there for Google and you have no intention of getting real customers via them, then you should probably just remove them altogether.

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