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All sites rank decently at the moment. The 1 larger site has it's own forum, the syndication would be in addition to the existing forum.
Do you doing this would be a net benefit Google-wise?
First the page growth rate of the large forum will likely trigger a trust issue with Google.
Then the uprooting of a forum from one domain and putting it elsewhere will require proper 301's and those pages may never recover their former positions and in any event they will also experience at least a short term depression in ranking until Google has all of redirect bookkeeping done. I don't even want to contemplate the work involved in getting the links to the old forums changed. where ever they are, to point to the new locations.
What is best for your visitors/users?
Uuuuu-sers? I'm not sure I understand :)
J/k, I can handle the usability aspects, I just want to know what the implications are from a G standpoint.
TheBear, just to clarify I'm not talking about moving a forum, 35 forums stay where they are, new posts on all 35 get syndicated (and added) via backend to the umbrella site's umbrella forum.
As far as all the new urls goes, that is a good point.
I guess my question is about canonicalization and whether one of the sites will get 'whacked'.. cause my thinking is if duplicate content penalty is not penalty but just ... lack of traction in SERPS if your url is not chosen as the canon... putting the same copy of a somewhat fresh unique dataset on multiple sites might give me more opportunities for ranking one of those for any given target search phrase?
Or will the stronger site just wipe out the rest of weaker results?
The only other factor in my thinking is, is one of the hidden quality metrics of a site it's % of unique shingles, and if I am copying my own content in this way, I am hurting myself more than I am helping? This last one is pure speculation, I admit.
If by adding to the larger forum you manage to maintain the internal page link factors as they were on the sub forums things might get interesting for the sub forums depending on inbound link factors that are in force on the sub forums and what will not be there for the big all encompassing forum. The the impacts of the internal link structure of the large forum may be more forceful than both link forms on the sub forums. Yep, I call crap shoot. How will your users benefit is a very good question.