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Same site under .com and .co.uk domains?
The Cornishman

 8:19 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone,

I have been asked to help optimise a site which has been in existence for several months now. The site exists as both a '.com' and '.co.uk', and I'm starting to wonder whether this is giving the site a duplicate content penalty on a Google search?

Just in case I am barking up the wrong tree with this theory, could anyone please advise? Something is DEFINITELY keeping the site way down in the rankings and it would be great to confirm or eliminate this particular issue...

Many thanks in advance.



 8:31 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Having the same website available through more than one domain name is a bad idea and it can impair rankings. You should have the owner choose a primary domain name and then set up 301 redirects on all of the other domains pointing back to the primary. If the primary market for the site is the UK, then I would suggest that you choose the .co.uk domain name as the primary so that the major search engines will all see it as being located in the UK.

That said, if the site's keywords are at all competitive, it can easily take far longer than "several months" for the site to rank well. But take care of the duplicate domain name issue first.


 8:39 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

It is always a bad idea to have the same content under different domain's with the same owner.

Best advice is to begin work to change up one so they are not exact sites. Nothing wrong with targeting different countries but think of it this way say this did work think about what would happen.

This is the lazy approach to targeting different countries and not the way the SE's deem the best.

.com is universal so you could rank for a UK search and the .co.uk could rank but being the same site not gonna happen.

Also consider the sites are internet babies they need time to grow so don't expect any great rankings until quite a bit of work has been put into their development.


 8:50 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

What duplicate content usually does is just get one version filtered out of the search results. There is no true "duplicate content penalty" unless a webmaster is cranking out scraped versions of many duplicate sites via some site auto-generation script.

So the two domains issue may not at all be the answer to the bad rankings - it probably isn't.

Also, it's not always a bad idea to have an international .com and a ccTLD for another English speaking country. This is especially so if you localize the language used on the UK site for that specific version of English.

The Cornishman

 3:40 am on Sep 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thank you everyome - all replies much appreciated. I shall take the advice given and attempt to put into practice.

If the two domains are not the issue then I don't know what is. I've heard that sharing an IP address with one or more penalised sites can be a problem - and this website, although a perfectly reputable business itself, shares it's IP address with a few rather dubious sites. These sites (gambling, adult content) each have over 200,000 'spammy' inbound links.

Could this earn the site I am dealing with a 'bad neighbourhood' penalty?

The only other thing I can think of is that some of the internal pages linked to (and these links appear on every page of the site) contain repetitive content - not finished off properly. For example one of these pages consists of a dozen identical paragraphs, just containing 'lorem ipsum' text. Whilst this is poor quality work (and I can't believe the company went live with 'dummy' pages like this) is it sufficiently bad practice to earn a pagerank penalty?

Apologies if these questions are clutching at straws - I'm running out of ideas as to why the site ranks so poorly, given it's excellent and original page content generally, and the collection of quality, relevant inbound links which have now been in existence for around eight weeks ... Something must be wrong!

Anyway, thanks again all for your input - greatly appreciated indeed.

[edited by: tedster at 12:03 pm (utc) on Sep. 23, 2009]


 12:05 pm on Sep 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Those sound like two very good straws to clutch at, to me. I would not share an IP address with websites that use spammy tactics. And replacing the Lore Ipsum (or removing those pages) is a natural clean-up step.


 6:49 pm on Sep 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Although much debate has gone on about the shared IP issue, I scanned many of G*'s patents for clues as to whether they explicitly refer to its no no or not, to be frank, I couldn't find any. My analogy of the whole shared IP this:
Different site and domain owners have nothing to fear, but there are drawbacks:

Sharing one IP with few hundred other sites, some of whom (their webmasters) may have dubious and questionable content should not hurt your site for many reasons. One may be that you use a paid or free host and you don't own that server, so you have no control, nor do you have any knowledge of what goes on that server. Another is that G*, Bing and others have access to whois records, they may punish owners of that particular site and probably the rest of the network (if many sites owned by the same owner and hosted on the same IP or even C class and happen to be out of line), but your site is owned by you and as long as it is within their guidelines, you are safe.

The drawbacks can be algorithmic such as respect, trustrank and authority which are harder to gain. Shared hosting indicates to search engines that the site is predominately a hobby / personal site or a blog, small trader, freelancer etc...generally a site in its infancy in terms of growth even if it has been online for the last 15 years. They look at the situation the same way as if the site was an offline big business or market stall, if in the middle of the high street occupying a large square yarded area in the middle of London, Paris or New York, then you command GREAT trust and respect, if on the other hand you have a stall in the middle of a flea market of a small village open only Tuesdays and Fridays, then you command SMALL look. Having your own server, marketing budget, great SEO, quality and unique content coupled with quality backlinks and in time you are a big business!

Technical drawbacks as opposed to algorithmic, can be; Hundreds of sites crammed on the same server are more likely to suffer downtimes and restarts, ddos attacks, slowness and other technical issues. Lack of control over software, server configuration, security and root access are all important if you have a large site.

Those sound like two very good straws to clutch at, to me. I would not share an IP address with websites that use spammy tactics. And replacing the Lore Ipsum (or removing those pages) is a natural clean-up step.

Tedster, I wouldn't either, however, the difference is the server owner, if the server owner is the one using the spammy tactics, only his/ her sites are likely to get punished, but you may have a point as the DNS nameservers IPs and their whois ownership are likely to be blacklisted and other sites may possibly be punished by mistake, not because of the use of shared IPs, but the authoritative nameservers are harboring a bad neighborhood owned by the physical server owner.


 1:13 pm on Oct 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

You definitely don't want to have the same content referred to on two different sites, one as a .co.uk and the other as a .com. As mentioned have a redirect set up from the one site to the other.

Instead use webmaster tools to choose the location where you want the site to be targeted.


 2:45 pm on Oct 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hello Justin, and welcome to the forums.

Does your opinion come from an experience? I ask because I've seen this kind of duplication and near-duplication across country targeted domains without obvious trouble of any kind.

I also read this idea being expressed around the web, but it always seems to be a fear of the dreaded "duplicate content penalty" but it's never an account of a real problem, only a fear.

As a reference:

There are some steps you can take to proactively address duplicate content issues, and ensure that visitors see the content you want them to...

Use top-level domains: To help us serve the most appropriate version of a document, use top-level domains whenever possible to handle country-specific content. We're more likely to know that http://www.example.de contains Germany-focused content, for instance, than http://www.example.com/de or [de.example.com....]



 10:21 pm on Oct 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Tedster - just a housekeeping question :

- if you interlink a US/.com version to a UK/.co.uk [ geo targeted to UK only ] version with the same content will the duplicate content filter kick in?

[ It certainly seems to if the sites are on the same geo targeting settings ]


 12:44 am on Oct 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

No, I dont believe that there is such a thing as a duplicate content penalty for two different sites with the same content on different geographical tlds.

In fact Matt Cutts made the point pretty clear on his website here: [mattcutts.com...]

I just think it is not very good practice to have duplicate content on two domains unless you are specifically targetting different countries.


 1:03 am on Oct 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

OK - this one brought me out of years of lurking...

Tedster, thank you for your insight here.

I'm close to creating a .co.uk version of a US targeted .com site for a reputable specialty manufacturer.

I planned on hosting the .co.uk version with a UK hosting company (the .com is on a US host).

So if I understand correctly, same site content on separate hosts, the sites are legitimately targeting two countries should not pose a problem? My original thought was to slightly modify the UK site's domain and content.


 1:23 am on Oct 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Whitey - as I understand it, a filter is always already kicked in. If the search is done from the UK, then the .co.uk version will show and the .com will be filtered out - and vice versa.

Justin - sounds like we see eye to eye then.


 1:47 am on Oct 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Very helpful thread - much appreaciated Tedster / Justin / All


 4:42 am on Oct 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes, sorry tedster... I was just trying to clarify something in my own mind for my sister in laws site which is how I found the thread and I dont think my first post was very clear.

I am not convinced that it makes all that much difference as to where your sites are hosted. The key I think is to set up the target country according to googles webmasters tools and as tedster says where possible to use a county specific domain. I currently live in Peru and have some sites that are slowly climbing up the rankings here on a .com as the com.pe is absurdly expensive (65$ a domain is the cheapest I found...)

I have several sites all hosted with US based hosting, normally with .coms and targetting different countries (Peru, UK and US) which seem to do okay.

[edited by: tedster at 4:48 am (utc) on Oct. 15, 2009]


 10:51 am on Oct 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

... actually someone just tapped me on the shoulder regarding Matt Cutt's comments noted by Justin

In fact Matt Cutts made the point pretty clear on his website here: [mattcutts.com...]

Seen here

Different top level domains: if you own a .com and a.fr, for example, donít worry about dupe content in this case

The issue was that Matt Cutts .fr and .com examples would be assumed to be irrelevant because .fr content would be in French, not English, and thus negate duplicate content issues.

So again , repeating and double checking , would 2 versions of the same language be guaranteed 100% in the same way ?


 3:53 pm on Oct 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've read a similar comment about serving identical German pages on example.de and example.at from a Google staffer - not sure if it was Matt, but the same principle.

guaranteed 100%

Nothing about any search engine gets a 100% guarantee - there's too much complexity. But as I wrote above, I've never seen such a problem, and I do work with multi-national business sites. What I read around the web on this issue are worries and fears (it's been a near epidemic) but not bad experiences.


 10:37 pm on Nov 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

I set up a (us hosted) .com for a strong .co.uk site about 4 months ago. I also set the location in webmaster tools. Google does seem to be getting the geography right.

And it's just one example but I do believe dupe content did cause problems.

Many of the pages were different-ish but a few were identical.

And one strong .co.uk page that had identical content on the .com did disappear completely from the rankings. I waited about a month and then I altered the .com page. The .co.uk page came back after two days.

So I guess I assumed that whatever Google's intentions, you can't predict how the algorithms will work?

I certainly plan to ensure that few pages on the two sites are identical.

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