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Essentially it seems to boil down to 1 of 2 approaches:
1) Select one you want Google to index and ring fence the other domains so they don't get indexed.
2) Ensure there are sufficient differences between the sites operating under different domains so, while they use the same content, Google's dupe filters don't kick in. Generally recommendations are change title tags, headings, nav links, directory & page file names plus host sites separately to ensure they have different IP C block addresses.
The problem I see with Option 1 is if you operate in a number of different countries you will limit your ability to be found by searchers using the "Only pages from your country" results. Google provides this filter if you use google.co.uk, google.com.au, etc. My experience is that many users seach using this so you need to ensure your site can be found this way.
As I understand it the filter works by presenting sites that either have a country's TLD, (eg co.uk), or if the site has a non-country specific TLD (eg .com) Google will show it in the filtered results if the host IP address is from that country. Based on this, if you have a site targeting both the US & UK markets the approach would be ring-fence the .co.uk domain from search engines and use the .com but host it in the UK. That way people in UK doing UK only searches in Google will find the site despite it being a .com.
However Option 1 won't work if your site needs to be found in the local searches of more than 1 country. eg your site targets UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Are there any other approaches that can be used in this situation instead of option 2?
I hope it's clear I'm looking at ways of getting legitimate mirror sites for different countries included in local search results, rather than the old spammers trick of dominating search results using duplicated sites.
biggles, would they be 100% identical, seeing that there can be differences in spelling and terminology used? For example, for the UK "fancy widgets" would work according to Overture UK keyword lookup, but not at all in the US, where "dressy widgets" or "dress-up widgets" or "special occasion widgets" would be more suitable, language wise.
1) Select one you want Google to index and ring fence the other domains so they don't get indexed."
biggles> I am also after the answer to this question after having a site penalised in the world results for having duplicate/mirrored sites for other countries (.com/.co.uk/etc). I posted a question two weeks ago and had no response.
Could you please clarify what you mean by ring fencing the other domains? Do you mean by using robots.txt to exclude Googlebot from indexing those domains?
Merlin78 - yes, by ring-fencing I meant excludes SE spiders crawling & indexing the site by using robot.txt