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I did work for a client many years ago now which was to create a database driven version of their original website. Now I'm no SEO expert, I merely provided the features to let them update all the necessary parts of the page to help change rankings. However the client did not want to de-commission their old site, they instead wanted them to run alongside each other on a slightly different domain but selling mostly the same products (although one is much more up to date than the other).

The old website is http://www.thefineartcompany.co.uk and the new one is http://www.fineartcompany.co.uk.

After trying many things with various SEO companies my client still cannot get the new site to rank highly and is even having a hard time getting the homepage recognized by Google properly.

I have a feeling it is because the two URLs are very similar and they are selling the same content under the same name so Google does not think nicely of the new site. So my question is:

  1. Does Google do this?
  2. and if so is there anyway of proving this to the client? The reason I ask is because I'm sure my client would be worried about de-commisioning a higher ranking website over a lower ranking site.

Thanks

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

If the same content is available from two different URLs you will have issues with duplicate content with Google. They either need to do a 301 redirect from one domain to the other or use canonical URLs.

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The content is not exactly the same, however they are essentially doing the same task with the same name. Would this cause the same problem? Thanks. –  John_ Oct 27 '11 at 11:40
    
Define "not exactly the same". Two web pages do not have to be exactly alike to be duplicate content. Changing words around or the appearance of the website doesn't make content unique. –  John Conde Oct 27 '11 at 11:43
    
Well the content has been written seperately from the other website, however it does contain very similar content. e.g. both site homepages push particular subjects like "Original Art". If you view both you will see what I mean. Sorry if I'm not being clear as I wasn't the person who wrote content for both. –  John_ Oct 27 '11 at 11:58
    
I would recommend the 301 route too, the two sites are too close to each other in terms of content and will definitely not be helping matters. If the old site is 301'd it will carry through any weight that it has gained. –  Vince Pettit Oct 27 '11 at 13:02
    
Also something you may have done already but definitely worth looking at if you haven't is to check out Google webmaster tools to see what errors are being flagged. –  Vince Pettit Oct 27 '11 at 14:07

First of all, new sites rarely rank high, especially with the new changes implemented by Google this year. That's why it's a good idea to stick with an established domain and redirect new domains to it unless there's a compelling business reason to make a bigger change, such as a corporate name change.

When the content is mostly duplicated from an existing ranking site, this is even a bigger negative factor. From Google's algorithmic perspective they can't tell if the new site is a opportunistic spam site or an associated site so they'll ere on the side of caution so far as their search results quality goes. That's why you don't want to run duplicate sites since it dilutes your SEO efforts.

301 redirection to the domain they wish to promote along with using Webmaster Tools to clean up any errors and to define canonical URLs should help correct the problem although it may take several months for things to settle down.

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  1. Yes Google looks at duplicate content.
  2. You can read more about that here

Apart from the duplicate content issue, i've seen several topics on problems with same content websites being hosted on the same ip c-block. You might want to look into changing servers with the new site. However, i'm not sure if this would really help.

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