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Finding First Cache Date of Duplicate Site?
traffik daddy

 1:02 pm on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi, I have an awful problem, one of our clients seems to have been meddling in SEO and seems to have undone all of the work we have done, at least, thats my professional opinion.

Many of their keywords dropped by about 4-5 pages, some even more, and I investigated today what could be the cause, as this is the only account to have been hit on our server.

I found so far about 5-6 keyword domains registered under their company and for each domain they have uploaded the same files as their business website that we have performed SEO on, therefore creating exact replicas that have been indexed.

What I need to find out is the very first time Google cached these domains, is this possible at all, and I am assuming this is the reason for their drop?

I cant use Wayback, it seems these domains were registered in July 2011 but may have just come into use recently causing the drop in rankings

My boss has been in touch with me and I need to gather the evidence so I dont get the blame. Does anyone have any other suggestions into investigating client meddling? I want to find evidence before we contact them and asking them outright and so far found these domains.

Thanks in advance



 2:52 pm on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you have backend access then you might want to look at the log files to see when Googlebot crawled those domains.

Marketing Guy

 2:53 pm on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

It may not be the problem - I have a client who has loads of satelite domains floating about, all 302ing to the main site. Google seems pretty good at ignoring these (although I am in the process of cleaning them all up anyway). They're also in the car industry where thousands of competiting sites all use the same copy (manufacturer descriptions).

I wouldn't rule out the duplicate domains, but I would be hesitant to jump to conclusions though. Are any of the duplicated sites ranking for any significant terms? Run them through your rank checker for the keywords you monitor for the main site and see if they have replaced the main site's rankings anywhere.

It's a tough situation you're in. I think the best bet would be to ask the client when they launched the other sites. Internally it might be worth looking at the past 3 months work you've done for them and see if anything has changed (lost backlinks, gained too many, etc).

traffik daddy

 3:49 pm on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)


Some of their keyword domains are ranking and yes, they seem to be 302 redirects, I overlooked that probability. However, the keyword domains that they have registered are not the same as the keywords that we are running, but they are similar.

Hi Goodroi, I dont have access to raw logs but I have checked Webmaster Tools and no warnings as such, but Googlebot activity has trailed off quite a lot over December and January. We dont usually track logs as mostly we take care of the little businesses, as is our aim to help them to grow via Internet Marketing, so stats (apart from Analytics/WMT) dont usually come into play such as raw logs as we, and myself in particular, have never run into this problem before.

This was an account that was running fine and we left it alone, just keeping a close eye on it, and I cannot see any evidence of lost links, but even so, wouldn't losing just 1 link effect only the keyword in the anchor text? This problem has occurred with most of his keywords. I can tell you that all of his keywords we are working on are related though, very similar variations very targeted towards their business (it is a regional business campaign - but not G places), so maybe the removal (or devaluation) of 1 or 2 links could effect related keywords no matter the number?

I'm not sure how 302's work as I never use them or keyword domains, so I don't see the patterns. Don't they get devalued after 30 days by Google?

Some of his keywords have gone back 1 or 2 pages, some 3, some 4, some over 10 pages, and their keywords were all ranking top 4 positions in their region before this decrease.

Thanks for your replies.

Marketing Guy

 4:20 pm on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Could be they bought the domains and setup forwarding via their registrar. Idiotically in this day and age, some use 302 as a standard domain forwarding mechanism. Worth keeping in mind before you approach the client - it might not be an intentional attempt to do some funky SEO stuff.

302's stick around - they are temporary redirects and effectively act as a copy of the target site. You could implement rel=canonical on the main site if it's not in place already and that would go some way to avoiding any issues.

I've seen examples where the root domain that is 302ing will rank for the terms of the page it is targeting, and that can result in the main site being pushed down. Do the new keyword domains have any history (existing backlink profile)?

Loads of things could cause a ranking drop across the board - a few pages difference does seem like a lot and unlikely to be normal fluctuations though.

traffik daddy

 4:56 pm on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)


To my knowledge these domains are the first time I have come across them. They have no backlinking profile from what I can gather (apart from a few IP lookups, whois, etc) and all seem to have the last cache date around the beginning of January. They are, however, cached, and I am unsure when they were first cached.

I'll try rel=canonical, thank you for the tip.

Is it possible that these domains have just started ranking then and have pushed the website down? They dont get many referrals from them so I may ask the client to remove them or 301 them, or see what the rel=canonical does.

I have seen instances where one page can get replaced by another page for a certain keyword, say for instance, a blog post replacing the index page for one keyword, but that is a simple fix by removing the blog post and 301 the blog post url to the index page. The index page always comes back. Could this be similar then? The 302 domain is replacing the main site for that/those keyword(s)?

Thanks again

Marketing Guy

 5:04 pm on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

It could be the case, although I haven't seen existing rankings drop so many pages because of something like this, so there could be more to it. Worth sorting it out with 301s anyway to rule it out at least.

How many keywords are you monitoring and how many of those have dropped more than a page?


 7:16 pm on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I would run backlink reports using a paid services on the main site and the bonus sites. This will help to expose any potential interlinking or redirecting issues. Also it can uncover if there was any significant loss of inbound links.

Have you also accounted for personalized serps? Sometimes ranking drops are a non-issue if the traffic is still coming in.

traffik daddy

 10:20 pm on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)


Only 20 keywords - but keywords are closely related, all regional and also towards their niche.

I have seen a few blog posts take over an index page a few times in the serps, I am not sure what causes it, but I usually know how to fix it, and thats by removing the blog post and redirecting the blog post url to the homepage, but that is based off just one keyword. Eventually the homepage comes back after recache, but I have only witnessed this a few times. My thoughts were (after posting here) maybe this is something similar, a 302 domain, or domains, overtaking the main url as the page for that/those keywords. Maybe I am looking too far into it.

17 of the 20 have dropped below first page, 3 remain in the top 4-6 positions at this moment. Only one keyword has dropped out of the top 10 pages, some page 2, some page 3, some further.

If it was a keyword penalty my first thoughts were I would see a pattern, such as all dropping similar numbers in rank, but they have all dropped into different positions, despite them all being top 4 originally. Its a strange one.

Hi Goodroi, its not personalized search, I'm 100% sure. I always log out of our G account and clear browser cache before checking. I also use a rank checker on a UK IP and double checked with 3 browsers (Chrome/IE/Firefox), its certainly a derank, for one reason or another. Its also effected their traffic when I check Analytics stats.

Marketing Guy

 9:14 am on Jan 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

If the keywords are closely related, how many pages in total are targeting those terms? Was it the homepage ranking for most or all of the terms, that now isn't, or is it 20 individual pages all ranking for similar terms independently?

If one page accounts for most of the rankings, then it's realistic that a 302 duplicate could replace it, resulting in what looks like multiple keyword ranking drops.

traffik daddy

 9:38 am on Jan 17, 2012 (gmt 0)


Just the homepage. I have suggested to our client that they 301 the domains instead of 302 to see if that has any effect. Is it wise to speed up the recache by pinging the domains?

I'll wait to see what happens anyway.

Thanks for your help.

Marketing Guy

 9:59 am on Jan 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anything you can do to speed up the reindexing when the 301s are in place will help. You don't even need to setup 301s - can just remove the 302s. rel=canonical for the main site might help too and perhaps act as a preventative measure to stop it happening in the future (not sure how Google would handle conflicting 302 vs canonical tbh but it should respect the preferred version).

traffik daddy

 2:34 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi, sorry to bump this, but the domains above are now using iframes, is this safe? Also, I don't want to start a new topic surrounding this so thought it best to post here, but the client has a short description on their homepage, probably a paragraph, short and sweet to describe them best. Their site is a 7 page website.

They have used a previous SEO company before and from what I can gather they submitted their website to some directories, social media, and other sites. I have since found that the websites that listed their domain for their backlink have used the content from their homepage... all of it, seeing as there wasn't much to begin with.

This has not just occurred 3 or 4 times but about 80 times directories have used the homepage content and listed it as their own. Will this cause a problem too, should I urge them to rewrite their homepage content?

I know duplicate content, etc, will have an effect in many cases but our clients site was the first instance of this content being cached (I assume so anyway) so I thought there shouldn't be a problem, therefore I am just eliminating some possibilities why their website could have reduced in rank.

Thank you so much

Marketing Guy

 2:41 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yeh I'd shoot for a rewrite if it's only a few pages of content.

Iframes are handled wierdly - the target content is usually indexed. Can be a PITA for SEO that's why no one uses them for full sites. Can't see it causing duplicate content problems though unless the content within the frame is a redirect and not your client's real page.


 3:12 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ traffik daddy:

I am a bit confused about your position here.

You know the company that you worked for did something stupid and made a bunch of keyword specific domains with duplicate content, right?

Why not just tell them the truth; that this is going to hurt / destroy their search engine rankings in the end, and that they need to get rid of those domains and perform 301 redirects to their main business site?

I am sorry if I don't understand your position completely. Are they trying to get a refund for cost of the SEO service you provided earlier to their main site?

If you can't use the wayback machine, then at least you should be able to show the registration date for those domains. If you have any rankings reports for the main business site that shows a drop in rankings, you should at least be able to show how the rankings dropped AFTER the keyword specific domains were registered.

Hope this helps.

traffik daddy

 3:44 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi Planet, sorry, maybe I wasn't clear. The domains dont belong to us, they belong to an SEO company that did some previous SEO work for our current client. They came to us as the previous company wasn't getting them anywhere and I recently found out, after investigating their drop in rankings, that these domains exist from their previous company (which I found out they paid a lot of money for - a lot more than they should have anyway).

I wanted to know if they were safe as we are investigating the problem.

The previous company dont want to remove the iframe domains because they are ranking, and I am all for that if it doesn't hurt the work that we do. If they get referral traffic from them then fine, but if it is hurting the work that we are performing then I am going to have to tell them to remove the domains or point them elsewhere.

I dont know much about the use of iframes as quite simply I have never used them, but to explain as best as I can the keyword domains url is in the address bar of the browser but when I hover over links/menu then the links point to the main site. I cannot see any evidence of duplicate content that is cached for these domains as of yet, but maybe they are not ranking for the content? It still remains that these domains are still there, whether with a 302 or iframe, they are still there and still pointing to our clients website. They are probably thinking if they 301 then the keyword domains will lose rank.

What I am worried about is that if they are hurting our clients site then rewriting their homepage content will be of no use as the iframed domains will also change content right? I think I read somewhere (maybe here?) that Google are working on reading content within an iframe, or maybe have already found a way of doing so?

I'm just eliminating possiblities so we can break down what is causing the drop.

Thank you


 3:57 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm confused as well.

Bottom line - is it the case that you have a number of domains indexed with the same content (iframe or not) ?

traffik daddy

 4:12 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)


A Company (not us) owns a bunch of keyword domains and they are now using framed web forwarding to our clients site.

Is the content of the framed website safe using this method? The domains are cached and ranking for the keywords in the domains. Sorry for not making too much sense, web forwarding is not a method I use so I dont know too much about it and it has been a long day, tiredness is taking over.

Thank you


 4:15 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

I still can't make head nor tail of your situation, but iframe or not, duplicate content is probably not a good idea.


 6:32 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

I still can't make head nor tail of your situation, but iframe or not, duplicate content is probably not a good idea.

This is the BEST advice you are going to get here.

Who owns the content? Your client? Or the other SEO firm? (Note: I am asking about the CONTENT, not who owns those other sites.)

If your client owns the CONTENT, tell them they should take control of their content.

Does your client have a contract with the previous SEO firm stating that the previous SEO firm can maintain those other sites and use your client's content(and maybe generate a commission from traffic sent by those other sites to your client's site)?

If so, you have a problem.

But if not, just have the client tell the previous SEO firm to no longer use your client's content.

Again, as netmeg said; iframe or not, duplicate content ain't a good idea...


 6:38 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

One More Thing regarding the keyword-based domains:

(which I found out they paid a lot of money for - a lot more than they should have anyway).

Who is "they" in this sentence? Who paid a lot of money for the keyword-based domain names? Your client? Or their previous SEO company?

You are going to have to break the bad news to them that buying up those keyword-based domains was, at best, a waste of money, and at worst, could very well HARM their rankings over the medium and long term. I think it is clear now more than ever that google does not want a bunch of mirror sites with duplicate content, no matter whether they use frames or not.

If that client gets upset at you for pointing this truth out to them, well... maybe you need better clients?

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