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courting the dup penalty?
Is my client's collection of domains a ticking bomb?
oaktown




msg:3115430
 1:29 pm on Oct 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

For reasons that no one in the office can explain, my new client has bought literally dozens of variants (over the last couple of years) on his domain name.

For example let's say his domain name is www.example.com

he also has bought
www.blueexample.com
www.greenexample.com
www.blahexample.com
www.exampleblah.com
www.blahblahexample.com
etc., etc., etc.

Oddly enough, almost none of the variants are likely search terms. It's almost like an old woman collecting dozens of cats.

ALL of these appear to be mirrors (I hope I'm using the term correctly), in that they present all of the content of www.example.com, but appear to be separate sites. For instance www.blueexample.com/aaa.html is actually showing the page www.example.com/aaa.html. NOT a copy of www.example.com/aaa.html, but the actual page (although the IE address bar says www.blueexample.com/aaa.html). I verified this by making a slight change to www.example.com/aaa.html and saw it reflected there AND on www.blueexample.com/aaa.html.

ALL of these domain names are hosted on the same server with a single, common IP address.

www.example.com/ is a PR5 and the clones are all PR0.

My question is:

Is my client at risk here? If so, how much danger are they in and what can be done to bury this stuff before G applies a penalty?

Thanks in advance.

Mods: I hope this is all within the TOS. If not, please let me know how to properly present the issue. I really need some answers here.

 

tedster




msg:3115788
 6:36 pm on Oct 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

If these clone domains use a 301 redirect to one principal domain, then they are safe -- but if as you say there is no type-in value, they are not doing much good, either.

If they are resolving to the same content but showing that content on another domain, then yes, this sounds like a ticking SERP "bomb". All it would take is googlebot finding those secondary domains somehow (a link would be awful, but it can be through other avenues than a link) and away we go. The risk is that ALL domains would stop showing in the SERPs, both the principal domain and the clones.

My suggestion is either use the 301, or since there is no type-in value, just just own those domain names but don't let them resolve. Hold them for a rainy day and some future brainstorm of unique development.

A very thorough discussion of potential duplicate problems is here:
[webmasterworld.com...]

But this situation you describe is the simplest of the simplest. It can develop into a problem, but the fix is easy.

g1smd




msg:3115959
 8:25 pm on Oct 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

If the site is on an Apache webserver, then this code will fix the problem. It goes in the .htaccess file in the root folder of the site. This is it:

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9}\ /([^/]*/)*index\.html? [NC]
RewriteRule ^(([^/]*/)*)index\.html?$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^domain\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^reddomain\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.reddomain\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^greendomain\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.greendomain\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^bluedomain\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.bluedomain\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

.

What does it do?

It rewrites all "index" pages (both index.html and index.htm that is) in the root and in folders, from whatever domain they are on to always end in "/" on www.domain.com always preserving the folder names (if there are any) in the redirect.

Next, it rewrites all URLs on domain.com to www.domain.com preserving the originally requested path.

Next, it rewrites any URL at reddomain.com to www.domain.com and
any URL at www.reddomain.com to www.domain.com.

Next it does the same for greendomain.com and for www.greendomain.com and finally for bluedomain.com and www.bluedomain.com, and that is it!

MrStitch




msg:3116016
 9:30 pm on Oct 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

Oddly enough, almost none of the variants are likely search terms. It's almost like an old woman collecting dozens of cats.

Jerk... I almost fell out of my chair laughing!

oaktown




msg:3117136
 5:30 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks loads to all.

Now I am genuinely concerned. The fixes seem fairly simple to implement, but I'm not sure how to explain to the client what his risk-exposure level is.

I talked to the client's second-tier IT guy and here's what he told me:

"There are a few that are all aliases to example.com. They are not redirects, they are basically the exact same site."

I'm a front-end designer/coder type, so my tech knowledge is limited, but I haven't heard the term "alias". He does say specifically that these are NOT redirects. Is this bad news for the client?

Thanks in advance.

randle




msg:3117147
 5:44 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

The first thing I would do is see how much traffic each site enjoys. If all but www.example.com don't drive any, then the answer is pretty basic from a risk - return formula; If there is no return, even the smallest risk is unacceptable; take them down. If they enjoy a substantial amount of traffic then the solutions offered above are viable options.

tedster




msg:3117175
 6:00 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

I also want to observe that there are MANY naive website owners out there that are doing this kind of domain name collecting, and not feeling a problem. When one client came to me, they had over 1,000 domains all resolving, not redirecting, to the same content -- and still, their principle domain was on the first page for a big bunch of money words. In my opinion, they were quite lucky, because their market is very competitive and they could easily have been hurt by competitive tricks.

Many registrars encourage multiple domain purchases, and very few suggest or even understand 301 redirects to the principle domain. If the only place Google sees an alternate domain is in whois data, it doesn't look like trouble automatically ensues.

However, one very important rule here would be not to promote the extra domain names in any way. That will line up with a spammer profile pretty quickly.

g1smd




msg:3117179
 6:04 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Multiple aliases will eventually cause Duplicate Content problems. Duplicate Content is simply the same content available with "200 OK" status at multiple URLs.

Drop the redirect code in the root of the server and the problem is fixed. All of the alternative URLs still work. Visitors to those URLs still get to the content. Only one URL returns "200 OK", all the others return "301 Moved".

Job Done.

FromRocky




msg:3117181
 6:05 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>>"There are a few that are all aliases to example.com. They are not redirects, they are basically the exact same site." <<<<

It seems to me they may be the parked domains for www.example.com

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