Erim Foster

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Hi all,

I came across what I thought was an interesting case study while doing some research on a business that a friend of mine works for. He mentioned that they might need a website redesign (they do! looks like it was designed by somebody's nephew in 1998), as well as some local search optimization.

This is an industrial service business that does both onsite and offsite work, so they're kind of a hybrid service area business. They also sell and repair equipment on site.

I went to work looking at the backlink profile, citations, social profiles, etc. The first thing I noticed is that there's actually two domains representing the business, but with duplicate content.

Domain 1: the older, original domain, with more DA, age, backlinks, citations, etc. - 37 total indexed pages

Domain 2: more keyword oriented, younger, less DA, backlinks, citations, but their Yelp profile links to this domain - 9 total indexed pages of the exact same content as Domain 1. Just a subset, essentially

This struck me as a very bad idea, particularly since the NAP on both sites is identical, as well as the content.

What surprised me though is that these two domains are being ranked in both organic results and the 7-pack for keywords, sometimes at #1 for both. Domain 1 seems to dominate the organic results, while domain 2 gets the maps listing, perhaps because their Yelp profile links there.

Anyway, I thought this was quite interesting, and I was curious how you all might approach this case. I'm still trying to meet with the owner to discuss, but if I do I'd like to have some good ideas for him, besides just telling him he needs to redesign his horrible site, do some location oriented landing pages and content, build out his equipment sales and repair pages, set up a review process, etc.

My initial thoughts were they should pick a domain to use and 301 the other to it, lose all the duplicate content, comb through the links and citations and change what's linking to the redirected domain, etc.

Domain 1 is older and more established, with some nice, local links and citations. But the domain is pretty generic. Domain 2 is keyword and city oriented, easy to remember and kinda cool.

Or, my other thought was to use domain 1 for the equipment repair and sales side, and domain 2 for the service side, and then vary the address slightly. That seems problematic though.

But, the obvious danger here seems to be losing rankings, at least in the short term. Then again, are they not tempting fate and risking a slap with this approach? Or, is it not that unusual for Google to rank two nearly identical sites like this?

I hope that all makes sense. Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have.
 

Bishop

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I would not risk it.
If you lose the rank and the 301 does not work you've just killed their business.
 

Erim Foster

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Thanks for your reply Bishop. That's pretty much what I figured as well. I wouldn't want to make any changes that would jeopardize their current traffic, which seems inevitable with major changes like a 301.

At the same time, the current situation seems untenable. But maybe it's not, I really don't know. But the duplicate content and NAP across two domains and backlinks pointing two different places seems like asking for trouble.
 

Bishop

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I think not solving all their problems is the best option. Maybe it's not the best situation, but the fallout from possibly tanking their page rank would be far worse.
 

JoshuaMackens

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It's a toss up but I would just explain the situation to him and ask him what he wants to do.

The pros of reconstructing is a strong and enduring ranking. The cons are potential temporary loss of website traffic. If you do it right though, I don't think that should be an issue.

The pros of not reconstructing is a strong ranking. The cons would be the potential for this to get penalized at some point in the future. I don't think this is reality though as the only real penalty you should be worried about from a site that hasn't had any SEO done do it is an onsite penalty, like Panda with duplicate content. However, in my experience, duplicate content isn't a penalty, the content just doesn't rank very well.

The fact that the second, younger site is in the local listings is curious.

I might would just leave the second site and the local listing alone and work with the first site in the universal listings (non local) until something changes.
 
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