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Pros and Cons of "Sister Sites"

sites with similar but not duplicate content



7:37 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Almost all of my new clients find my company through Google, roughly half of that comes from local searches. Although I use White Hat SEO techniques, its very unsettling to consider that I could lose all my prospective business overnight should I experience a drop in rank.

I've considered setting up a "Sister" site with the same general overview of my company site, but with content worded differently and slight variations on the title tags. So if my main site is ever penalized with little chance of improvement, I'll have an additional one that I can try to move up the SERPs with links from sites that previously linked to my main site.

How would Google perceive a "sister" site with slightly varying content? Would a sister site be penalized if it was human-reviewed if a competitor reported it as possible SE spam? I see law firms frequently setting up multiple sites very similar in content for specific types of lawsuits they specialize in (medication specific, practice area specific). I also see web design firms with multiple sites, each dedicated to a specific type of industry or client they cater to (something I've considered, but for now I keep those pages on the same site). Those sites seem to rank okay, but I don't know for sure how Google sees them.


8:06 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

just add some value and do not spam google with it too much and it should be OK.
If you can change the style and structure a bit it should help.
Remeber that 2 sites is not 200% revenue. I guess 160% is the most you can get.


9:15 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

As long as you don’t do anything risky such as duplicate content or cross linking you will be well served doing this for a couple of reasons. Testing is one; you can make adjustments to one and see what effect it has relative to your ranking. The other, is as you mentioned.

The fact of the matter is Google’s tolerance for collateral damage has risen dramatically over the past few years. Great sites, that are clean as a whistle can fall victim to algorithmic changes. Multiple sites and a healthy Adwords campaign broaden your scope, and help reduce the risky business model of relying on Google traffic to a single site.


10:38 pm on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Remeber that 2 sites is not 200% revenue. I guess 160% is the most you can get.

My interest in setting up a main sister site has nothing to do with revenue, its about having an umbrella in case my business site ever falls in the SERPs.

I have considered setting up one or two individual sites for specific types of industries, that would be for increasing revenue. I did set up one such site three years ago for a specific niche, only its completely different from my main site and isn't remotely connected by linking, its been at the top of the SERPs for years. But if I set up another industry specific design site, I'd be tempted to link to both sites from any new project I develop within that industry, and maybe that's something Google will notice and disapprove of.

[edited by: DXL at 10:38 pm (utc) on Nov. 29, 2007]


1:30 am on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I know someone who keeps a "backup site" handy just in case something bad happens to the main site. Different content, same business, but intentionally not well positioned. Should it be needed, he will do a little work on it and soon thereafter it will be ranked high up. Since the age of the site is known to be an important factor, having a backup in the index allows the aging to occur. Therefore, should it be needed, its age should not be a factor.


11:22 pm on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

for an active site and if the content is different enough google shouldn't penalize the site automatically. I have seen a number of those examples.

The problem might be though, that a competitor sees it and complains to google. If it is too similar they might manually affect one of them.


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