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    Should I Split Into Two Websites?


    I'm creating a website for a new company that offers several related services. They want to have a main corporate website that has pages for all their services. However, they want to have a second website that only features a subset of those services. So they would have the same company name, same website template, but the smaller site would have a different domain name, different text/photos on the home page and be missing some pages from the main corporate site so that site would make them look more specialized.

    They would have separate marketing materials (brochures, business cards) that would have the website address and email address using the different domain name. They also want the smaller second site to come up on search results related to the services for that site and not the main site.

    Can this be pulled off without having a significant negative effect on ranking potential for either of the two site and also not risk a duplicate content penalty?

    It would seem you would have to add a robots.txt file that excludes indexing of the pages on the main site that are duplicating on the smaller site.

    However there is a potential big issue. The company is a local business. Nowadays the local results (Map + 3-pack) are as important if not more important, than the traditional organic results below the 3-pack (although I acknowledge they are related). For their Google Business Places, since they have two websites for the same company, they can only list one of the website. So if they list the corporate site, their not going to get in the local 3-pack for their specialized site for search terms. They may be able to live with this though since the main site will show ALL services.

    Comments? Ideas? Issues? Strategies?
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    There are a few options here. You really could just do all of this in a sub-domain and avoid a lot of problems. But let me explain.

    A lot of the people here will probably recommend you stay with one site. I however am a dissenting voice, as I have done well with having two sites for one client. I do think its important to separate the functions of each site so each would vie for different keywords. No reason to be competing with yourself, though it is nice when you end up with a few or several listings on a results page.

    I would not however, repeat ANY pages. When you do that, you are giving away too much control to Google. They may decide to treat both sites as one, and if that happens, you might as well just have a single site.
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    I'm not disagreeing with DirectHits. We just don't have enough info to respond with useful comments, IMHO.

    I don't understand why your client thinks two domains would be advantageous.

    I wonder if you are dealing with a client who thinks most SE referrals arrive on the site's Home page?

    I've always tried to work on the 3 click principal - give the searcher the info they need on three pages or less. Why does your client think they need two websites to achieve this instead of a well structured, single 100,000 (say) page site?

    What is your client expecting to achieve with this two domains vs. one strategy?

    From basic SEO principles, they should be able to attract more generic SE referrals from a large website than a small one.

    It sounds like location search is a mission critical issue. Is this a city-wide search issues? I.e. Does the client want to target everyone who searches for any suburb in a major city? That can be a big issue.

    When looking at the My Business 3-pack display traffic your client needs to also recognise G's limitations. G only displays them for very specific search categories. If location search words are crucial, your client may be excluded from all but its head office location search word.

    Would you like to expand on why your client thinks two sites are needed?
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    Hi guys,
    My Client is in a fix right now and I am not sure which way is the best way forward.

    In their attempt to find out whether a unique domain is better than a sub-domain they have created both. (Parent domain is staffordglobal.org - unique domain is staffordglobal.sa.com and sub-domain is eu.staffordglobal.org) as you can see the company is trying to find the best solution. The objective is to help the company expand globally without loosing efforts on SEO and competing with themselves.

    Now some data, since jan 2017, the ranking of the site has been declining and deteriorating. The efforts surrounding SEO and keywords has remained largely unchanged, so the marketing team are baffled as to what is causing this.

    My first though was that maybe there is duplicate text and so Google has penalized them for this, however this is not the case as webmaster is not reflecting any penalties, the content is country specific, the look and feel of all three pages is the same and appears to identify the company well. But could this be causing harm? Do the crawlers find this as duplicate code?

    Should I recommend them to go with unique URL's as this helps with in-country keyword targeting, but should they change the design so that the sites look recognizably different? once we finalize how to move forward them cleaning up all the metas and titles becomes easier instead of overlapping efforts...
    PLX Help.
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    Are you saying that there is only three pages to your site?

    And is the new domain a copy of the content on the subdomain?
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    Originally Posted by DirectHits
    Are you saying that there is only three pages to your site?

    And is the new domain a copy of the content on the subdomain?
    Hi Directhits,

    No there are about 70 pages on the parent domain staffordglobal.org; there are about 8 pages on the second url staffordglobal.sa.com; and there are about 5 pages on the sub domian eu.staffordglobal.org.

    The text is relatively the same with customisation to the territory intended, however majority of the material is identical because they are post graduate courses so things like the university name and programme name in the title is the same. Sections like entry requirements is the same as well as rankings of the institutions.

    Is all this negatively impacting SEO? What is the best eay forward?
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    OK, I'm confused...

    Are Consultant (OP) and SA-marketing the same person or do we have 2 different cases being thrown at us?
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    Originally Posted by JohnAimit
    OK, I'm confused...

    Are Consultant (OP) and SA-marketing the same person or do we have 2 different cases being thrown at us?
    Who is OP? I am the agency SA-marketing. No these are not two different cases. It is one client.
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    Hi SA-Marketing,
    OP is the Original Poster of the thread - "Consultant" as per the top of page.

    1. You reference the domain: sa.com

    This is a 1.8 mill page directory domain. Is it a ligit or dodgy domain? It looks VERY SUS from a quick look.

    What do you hope the subdomain on it (staffordglobal.sa.com) has to offer? Nothing comes to my mind if it is a dodgy domain.

    2. eu.staffordglobal.org

    What are you thinking may be an advantage with this sub-domain?

    3. Who are you targeting? Where are they? What languages will they use in search?

    The little I saw indicates your two different examples of subdomains are targeting folk in:

    a. Europe - Bulgaria
    b. The Middle East - Saudi Arabia

    How many countries/languages are you going to expand into with this?

    4. For SEO the Location of Searcher Comes First

    If your target searchers are located in different countries, Google will automatically direct them to different country search engines. For the two countries mentioned so far, they will be:

    Bulgaria: google.bg
    Saudi Arabia: google.com.sa

    The next questions are:

    • What language will folk use in search?
    • Will they be using keyboards with foreign charactersets?

    The Arabic keyboard characterset is completely different to an English set of characters. I don't know Bulgarian but I expect there will be some differences.

    What also happens with being directed to different Google country search engines is that the level of competition can also change and this can make search ranking much easier or harder.

    5. Targeting Different Counties

    Do you have the option of publishing the same content on multiple domains?

    I'd explore this as you can then target search in different countries without any duplicate content problems.

    Are you able to publish foreign language charaterset versions of your content on different country domains? That could be even better.

    You may have opened up a larger can of worms than you thought with this post...
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    Originally Posted by JohnAimit
    Hi SA-Marketing,
    OP is the Original Poster of the thread - "Consultant" as per the top of page.

    1. You reference the domain: sa.com

    This is a 1.8 mill page directory domain. Is it a ligit or dodgy domain? It looks VERY SUS from a quick look.

    What do you hope the subdomain on it (staffordglobal.sa.com) has to offer? Nothing comes to my mind if it is a dodgy domain.

    2. eu.staffordglobal.org

    What are you thinking may be an advantage with this sub-domain?

    3. Who are you targeting? Where are they? What languages will they use in search?

    The little I saw indicates your two different examples of subdomains are targeting folk in:

    a. Europe - Bulgaria
    b. The Middle East - Saudi Arabia

    How many countries/languages are you going to expand into with this?

    4. For SEO the Location of Searcher Comes First

    If your target searchers are located in different countries, Google will automatically direct them to different country search engines. For the two countries mentioned so far, they will be:

    Bulgaria: google.bg
    Saudi Arabia: google.com.sa

    The next questions are:

    • What language will folk use in search?
    • Will they be using keyboards with foreign charactersets?

    The Arabic keyboard characterset is completely different to an English set of characters. I don't know Bulgarian but I expect there will be some differences.

    What also happens with being directed to different Google country search engines is that the level of competition can also change and this can make search ranking much easier or harder.

    5. Targeting Different Counties

    Do you have the option of publishing the same content on multiple domains?

    I'd explore this as you can then target search in different countries without any duplicate content problems.

    Are you able to publish foreign language charaterset versions of your content on different country domains? That could be even better.

    You may have opened up a larger can of worms than you thought with this post...

    Hi John,
    You are right this is complex.

    Ok so from what I have figured already:
    1. The company made a mistake by purchasing the URL www.staffordglobal.sa.com believing that this is a unique domain to target the Saudi Arabia market, instead they should have purchased www.staffordglobal.com.sa which would signify that the domain is targeting audiences in Saudi Arabia. This error will be rectified.

    On another note, the target audience in Saudi Arabia is only English speakers so would we still need need to identify and use Arabic charactersets?

    2. The eu.staffordglobal.org was created as a sub-domain which created a folder on the server. The target audience for this sub-domain is the Balkans and only English speakers. Again here would it be useful to use Russian or Serbian charactersets?

    I did not understand how I can publish the same content on multiple domains? This would be identified as duplicate text/images/titles/descriptions....wouldn't it?
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    I just don't currently have the time to do a proper assessment of the site.

    But 'duplicate content' and all of its consequences are definitely a grey area. My perspective is, Avoid it when you can and don't worry about it when you cannot. With the exception of a detailed product or course description, I always find a way to avoid it though. I even sometime rewrite descriptions, though I am sure that would be involved in your case.

    If you have a two pages with copied and pasted content, title, descriptions, Google will no doubt catch it and choose which page to rank. The other typically gets pushed back in rankings. But if there are enough copied and pasted pages on both sites, Google begins treating the two sites as one.
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    Hi SA-Marketing
    What we still don't know is:

    • whether your overseas searchers will search on google.co.uk or the local country versions
    • whether G. will first activate its location algo for the types of searches you are targeting

    For the latter, I'd run some test search queries through the 3 G country SEs and see if local businesses are boosted over overseas businesses.

    It is starting to sound like using country specific sub-domains may be your preferred option.

    Watch this Google Help video about using the hreflang to define target countries for specific pages:

    Use hreflang for language and regional URLs

    If considering publishing on separate domains, this G Help page tells how you can target by country:

    International targeting - Target your search results to a specific country

    There is no problem with duplicate content if you tell Google how to apply it to different countries.

    What determines search results for any country SE are the words used in search queries. If the searcher enters the search query words in French or Arabic then, if you don't have pages on your site in those languages, you won't get found in the results. The keyboard language characterset is essentially only a tool to assist with typing the relevant language symbols.

    If you use subdomains you could publish English and the other language version of pages on it.
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    Originally Posted by DirectHits
    I just don't currently have the time to do a proper assessment of the site.

    But 'duplicate content' and all of its consequences are definitely a grey area. My perspective is, Avoid it when you can and don't worry about it when you cannot. With the exception of a detailed product or course description, I always find a way to avoid it though. I even sometime rewrite descriptions, though I am sure that would be involved in your case.

    If you have a two pages with copied and pasted content, title, descriptions, Google will no doubt catch it and choose which page to rank. The other typically gets pushed back in rankings. But if there are enough copied and pasted pages on both sites, Google begins treating the two sites as one.
    Thank you for the help - we have identified errors and are not putting together a plan to fix it all.
    BTW any recommendations on a template for an SEO strategy? I was thinking of putting something together for the client but not sure how best to present it in a user friendly manner.
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    This is amazing info - thank you sooo much. We have already identified the errors and are putting together a plan to clean up the website. The ranking is already quite poor so with all our efforts there is only one way to go.... UP!
    You have been a great help.

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