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Safe to copy my site for PPC?
Without suffering a penalty on the non-PPC site

 2:22 pm on Apr 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have a site that performs well in the free SERPs and is in Adwords. It is proving too dificult to separate the referrer stats i.e. which sales are from free listing and which sales from Adwords. We need this information to plan budgets and understand profit etc.

If I create a copy of my site just for Adwords and put a no-robots file in the copy site, can the original site suffer any rank-loss/penalty in the free listing as a result of this action e.g. for duplicate content?



 9:51 am on Apr 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

No replies, Is it just me? :(


 1:34 pm on Apr 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

Should be ok. Make sure you've triple checked your robots.txt ... and banned well known user agents like googlebot using .htaccess if you're paranoid about it.

[webmasterworld.com...] is a good start on how to ban using user agent strings.


 5:32 pm on Apr 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

While you should be OK, I personally wouldn't risk it in the least.

I'd much rather put my effort into deciphering those stats, than risk a duplicate content penalty, especially if your livelihood depends on those free listings.


 5:40 pm on Apr 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would definitelt NOT do it. To track adwords you can perhaps use simple additions to the URL which is set as the landing page:



 5:50 pm on Apr 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

What about the Alexa ranking of your site, which is not really very accurate but a lot of business people use anyway?

What about people who bookmark your page and from that point on come browsing in through the PPC site? Over time that's going to throw off your stats more and more.

What about people who set up links to your PPC site? That's also also going to throw off your stats, plus the beneficial value of those links will be lost.

IMO sticking to a single site but using unique tracking URL's for PPC bids is the way to go.


 11:25 pm on Apr 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've been doing exactly what you're planning for over a year with no ill effects so far.


 9:40 am on Apr 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've been doing exactly what you're planning for over a year with no ill effects so far.
Please tell me more.

tracking URL's
I've been using tracking URL's for 3 years, they are not accurate enough. Plenty of customers don't buy immediately, they leave and come back. Their 'anti spyware' software deletes their cookies... so tracking is dead.

What about people who bookmark your page...
Excellent example that proves my point! Those people found the site via PPC, they are part of the return on investment, if they come back next year, or 10 times a month and buy stuff - it was only because of the Adwords ad.

To run the business effectively I need to know which investments pay what. SEO for free SERPs, Adwords, Overture...


 10:56 am on Apr 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Has anyone else safely created copies of their own site, keeping just one copy for the free SERPs, and prevententing the others from the free SERPs?


 5:49 pm on Apr 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Googlebot will never see the site so there is no risk. As I said before I don't think it's the optimal solution, but it's safe.

Having said that, I would suggest blocking Googlebot via a .htaccess file as well. Once in a great while there can be a mixup and the site will get spidered. For example, last year my site was down for a couple of days, and Googlebot presumably tried and failed to retrieve the robots.txt file. For a short period after this, it did spider pages that it was not supposed to.


 6:33 pm on Apr 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thats exactly what I did for the same reasons as you.
I have three identical mirror sites, .com, .co.uk, and .tv and robots are barred from two of them leaving the third in the free serps. Whether or not it will become a problem I dont know but its fine at the moment.

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