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Advice on handling multiple web sites, please

Avoiding duplicate content and other confusions across mutiple web sites

7:20 pm on Dec 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I own four domain names that refer to my business. I'm a local-only service provider; not trying to go global or even state-wide - just my own local area is enough. So I got the domain for my business name, and three others. (The four sites are hosted on three different hosting sites.) This was to (a) keep those domains out of the hands of competitors and (b) maybe rank higher in search engine results.

My domain names are like:
(my business name contains the service I provide)

All of this seemed simple enough. But like everything, the deeper I go the more I find that there's some details that can either keep me afloat or sink me deep! A friend found a duplicate page in two different sites, and warned of dire consequences from Google. But how much is considered duplicate? 75%? 50% One paragraph? What if it's just the Contact form? Or the "Thank You" page that shows after the client submits the form? And does it matter if it's on different hosts?

So now I'm seeting out to learn how to juggle all these. My guiding concepts are: (1) avoid confusing customers; (2) avoid confusing search engines; (3) avoid confusing _me_ as I try to manage all of this!

Here's a collection of my jumbled thoughts:

-- I want to start a blog to provide free content to the local community.

-- Someone suggested a Twitter feed on page with a tweet-a-day keeps your page "daily fresh" on search engines? Yes/No? Will the same feed on multiple pages cause duplicate content problems?

-- In setting all this up, should I:
** Have all other domains redirect to my main business page? But then what would show up in an internet search?
** Have just an index page briefly describing what they were searching for, then "for more information see my main site here"?
** Use one of the domains just for the blog?

-- What about photos, videos, testimonials? Should that be a separate blog? separate pages on my main site? posted on a Facebook page and linked to?

In my city, because of a lack of sufficient projection, they are having to hack up people's front and back yards to improve city services such as water, sewer, and traffic! I'm trying to avoid having to do the same to my website(s) because I failed to plan ahead.

In researching just "duplicate content", I wound up here and ran in to so much stuff that it generated all these other questions. I don't know enough to understand what I need to be paying strict attention to, what the search engine can figure out for themselves, and what I need to provide some help with.

Any input is greatly appreciated.

5:44 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator mack is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 15, 2001
votes: 42

Hi EdNerd, and first of all welcome to WebmasterWorld :)

I think there are a number of things you could do to not only keep things nice and simple for your end users, but to also reduce your workload.

What I would do is try and centralize your content as much as possible. To do this I would only have one website. One way to look at this is four websites = four times the workload.

I would use your main domain, and have one main website where you can place all your content. This will allow you to concentrate all your efforts onto the one site. It will also remove the questions about duplicate issues.

Regarding the domains it makes sense in my opinion to have a small collection of domains purely to keep them out of the competitions hands. You can also use these for a wide range of other purposes. Simply redirecting them may be a good idea of any of the domains have type in traffic. It would also be important to have a good look on each site to find out what pages are getting good traffic. You would then set up a redirect to take that existing traffic to the new location on your amain website.

You can also make very good use of your local domain names for measuring advertising performance. Lets imagine you have a domain that gets no traffic. Set up the domain to forward all traffic to your main domain then use the "new domain" as part of an advert in a newspaper. That way you can actually work out how much traffic was generated through your advert.

I hope this gives you some ideas, and I hope other members will contribute their thoughts.


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