I have inherited (in an acquisition) three sites that amount to one tangled mess of duplicate content. I want to consolidate the three sites into one using 301 redirects so as to transfer existing page rank.
First, a little background...
The problem with the 3 sites is that they sell the same set of 500 or so products. The duplicate content is on the individual product pages; the other pages on the sites are fairly unique.
All 3 sites are PR3 and are 5+ years old. They all have roughly equivalent number of pages indexed and backlinks. One of the sites (site A) has better conversion, so I will redirect the other two sites (sites B & C) into this one.
Which do you think would be the better approach for SEO...
1. 301 redirect the individual product pages on sites B & C into the product pages on site A. Display some sort of prominent message about the transition so the user understands why he is being transferred.
2. 301 redirect every page of B & C into domain A.
The advantage to #1 is that it leaves the original content in place, and keeps sources of inbound links to site A. The advantage to #2 is that it transfers the max amount of page rank to site A.