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