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I'm having some kind of a unique situation here, but at the same time it's the typical mess web-beginners create.

I took over a project for an event-company and at the moment they're having several sites and domains online for the similar (but not the same) thing. So they're offering 4 different main events and they basically are in the same branch (sports) and the same location, but other than that they've got nothing to do with each other.

Problem is that they set up several (more than 1 each) domains and with that also different designs, which is just a big big mess to maintain. They're also sometimes fighting with duplicate content.

At the same time though more than 1 of those pages appear in the google results for the same keyword (sometimes covering more than 50% of the search results on the first page) - meaning the users conversion rate is much higher than it would be with only one page.

I'm wondering now what advise would be best, as I have a hard time deciding between cleaning it all up to not more than 1 page each sport and leaving the structure as it is, - as it has a good conversion rate. Do you think 4 different designs are distracting the user although they're of the same company ?

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Please clarify, do you mean that you have 4+ sites for each of the 4 sports, so 16+ sites or just 4 sites? –  RandomBen Dec 14 '11 at 14:14
    
Never said 4+ for each! It's 1, sometimes 2 pages each sport, altogether it's around 15 domains, 6 different designs and 4 different contents (so 2 duplicates). –  Anonymous Dec 14 '11 at 17:11
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SEO is important but isn't everything. If their multiple websites are currently dominating the front page of Google's search results then they shouldn't do anything to change that. That is assuming that the traffic those rankings are bringing in a being converted into actual leads. If they are, definitely don't fix what isn't broken.

At the same time, there is a very good chance that duplicate content issues or other factors may cause an eventual drop in rankings for these sites. If I were you I would have a plan B ready for such an occurance. Consolidating the content into one website for all sports or one website for each sport would be a good idea. Also have 301 redirects ready to go so users can find the new pages and Google can update it's rankings and link juice accordingly. It doesn't sound like these sites are too large or complicated so building this site/these sites and setting it/them aside "just in case" shouldn't be hard to justify.

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Thanks for the answer already. So it's not only me who's in between the possibilities. Problem is that I just got insight into all the projects (they haven't changed for a while), so maybe there most likely already is a punishment existent for duplicate content. My job is to optimize, so I need to be tactile to not destroy the already good ranking, but there still must be something to optimize. Maybe customers even get confused when they see multiple different sites for one and the same thing... –  Anonymous Dec 16 '11 at 14:56
    
The key is what your customers are thinking. Do you have any way of polling them or analyzing your conversions? Google Analytics may help with this. –  John Conde Dec 16 '11 at 15:02
    
"but there still must be something to optimize" - sounds like you're looking for something to do for the sake of doing something. There are plenty of things to do beyond rankings, conversion rate optimization is a good place to look. "Maybe customers even get confused when they see multiple different sites for one and the same thing" - Dig into your analytics data before you make changes, it will tell you what is really confusing customers rather than guessing. –  Joshak Dec 16 '11 at 15:52
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