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    Question Structure Advice


    I'm a programmer for a network of directory sites (as in business listing directories, phone numbers, etc.). I've just taken over our search engine optimization work from another person, and I've been doing a lot of research on what I can do to improve it. In my research there was one topic which is very central to our site's structure that I couldn't find any conclusive information on... so I thought I would ask here.

    1. We have a large number of domain names which target specific cities - ie ournamelasvegas.com, ournamechicago.com, ournamelosangeles.com - over 50 of these for most of the major cities in the United States.

    2. We also have the site setup so that going to something like lasvegas-nevada.ourname.com limits the search to the appropriate city, without making someone choose their city before looking up a listing.

    3. It would be just as easy for me to set it up as ourname.com/las-vegas-nevada/...

    These specific cities each have a large number of unique data that isn't shared with the other cities in the site, but common elements of the design (such as the homepage) are very similar with only slightly varied text (just where the name of the city appears).

    What would you suggest I do with this? Is it hurting me to have the different domains and subdomains? Shoud I eliminate these and do a folder instead, or should I stick with one of the two currently employed methods, or what?

    I'd appreciate any advice.

    Thanks, if you took the time to read this!
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    EGOL
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    You don't mention your current traffic/profitability so I assume that you are not pleased with it.

    Also when I read #1 and #2 it sounds like you are showing the same content under two URL's. If that is the case you can get into problems that way.

    If the ourname.com site is already up and indexed then switching from las-vegas-nevade.ourname.com to ourname.com/las-vegas-nevada/ will cut off the traffic, PR and any backlinks unless you do redirects for the entire site.

    If I was starting from scratch with this I would make one big site with folders for each city instead of 50 micro sites that require separate hosting, separtate domain name, separate editing, separate link requesting. From what I have tried a big site slams in the serps in comparison to a flock of small sites that divide my attention and multiply my efforts.
    * "It's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Mark Twain
    * "Free advice isn't worth much. Cheap advice is worth even less." EGOL
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    We were ranking very well and getting a ton of traffic from Google before Florida, and after it our SEO employee never really recovered and figured out how to adjust - which is why I'm taking it over at this point.
    I am in the same boat as your SEO person for a lots of pages but I have gotten some back... I attribute the recovery to getting more diverse backlinks.



    I thought the same thing. Our SEO employee had been in the process of seperating off and removing the domain names from the main site, and using only subdomains, so I finished the work, but haven't seen any consistent results from it yet.
    I built a couple of nice subdomains before Florida and now I wish there were in folders. Before Florida subdomains were kicking butts but now they don't show in the serps if a page of your main domain is on that page - if the subdomain was a folder you would get a double indented listing.


    This is true. The thing is, it doesn't seem to be deep crawling and indexing us to the level I would like, and the PR/BL doesn't seem to be having any predicitable effect on our ranking whatsoever...
    Do you have heavy PR linking deep at several locations within the site? This is what seems to work for me - deliver the spiders deep into the site and make them tunnel out through your pages.

    BL are taking an awful long time to kick in these days... I am still tapping my toe on some that were put up two or three months ago.


    However, the subdomain comes up as site #53 in the SERPs, even though it's worse in all areas, and the domain doesn't show up at all in this case.
    Have you done manual checks for these? Sometimes the api tools miss mine - every time.


    I'm worried I'm being penalized somehow or something, maybe for linking to the other domains.....
    but from the homepage they look nearly identical with only slight variations where the name of the city appears. Is this something Google would still view as subdomain/domain spam?
    Maybe. How much interlinking do you have?

    If this was my site and I was depending upon it for a big chunk of my biz, I would get a pro on the case ASAP.
    Last edited by EGOL; Jul 17th, 2004 at 08:35 AM.
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    EGOL
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    Ooops!


    hey Santa,

    I pressed the moderator's "edit" button instead of the "reply"... but you can see my comments in your post above.

    Sorry

    EGOL
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    I built a couple of nice subdomains before Florida and now I wish there were in folders. Before Florida subdomains were kicking butts but now they don't show in the serps if a page of your main domain is on that page - if the subdomain was a folder you would get a double indented listing.
    This is a good argument against subdomains... I don't think it will cause a problem with us, though, as it would be very rare that someone's search keywords would ever bring up pages in our site from two different subdomains/domains.


    Have you done manual checks for these? Sometimes the api tools miss mine - every time.
    Yeah, I went all the way through. On that example we were even getting outranked by a spammy site's bazillion subdomains, most of which were completely unrelated to the keywords. This is what makes me think that we might be getting penalized somehow...


    Maybe. How much interlinking do you have?
    As he set it up, the homepage of each of the subdomains links to all of the 60 or so "popular cities" that we have domains for (but, as of the recent changes, links to them as subdomains of our main site). The main site also links back to these sites from the front page. I think this is definitely a necessary thing on the main site, to provide quick navigation for users coming in at that point (it is actually used a lot from that area), but from the individual subdomain city sites it may not be necessary if it could be causing a problem.


    If this was my site and I was depending upon it for a big chunk of my biz, I would get a pro on the case ASAP.
    Unfortunately that's not really an option for us at the moment... if it was I would much rather do that. I don't like having to learn something off the cuff and worry about taking wrong steps like this.
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    Maybe the best thing to do then is leave it with your new changes and see what happens over the next couple of updates. And, get new links into the problem spots.

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