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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

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

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

This is very common question and have been asked many a times. I always keep on reading new stuff about the marketing strategies and reviews keeps on changing. There used to be the times when people buy different domains for localization purpose but now the scenario has been changed.

According to the query, you want your site in multi-language and therefore want changes in URLs for different places. When I suggest to go for multi-lingual website, what I mean basically is one website with different languages for the people accessing the websites from different location.

The situation here is that you are four different domains targeting one company with duplicate content but yes, you are getting good conversion rate, which is actually a good news. But, Google Algorithms will not take much time to convert the good news into bad one.

What I can suggest is to let it be like this until you see major changes in Google search results. But, yes I would have made a back up ready if at your place. I will definitely make 301 redirects from the existing domain in the web results to my new domain (I am talking about the scenario when Google Algorithms will affect your 4 domains).

301 redirection helps in getting about 90-99% of the link juice of the old domain. It will help in ranking the site again for he same keywords. You do not have to worry about the number of keywords getting ranks for all domains. Actually, it s good part that you are getting one keyword for all tactic and it is going good for the business. Just keep your back up ready for the bad time (if they come).

Now, let me show you other face of the coin where your customers will get annoyed with multiple domain taking them to one company only. In this way, you need to start working on Analytics to filter the traffic and remove the domain getting less traffic. In this way, you will have more conversion rates from 3 domain rather than 4. Keep on doing the same with others so that you leave with the final domain to work on. Well, it is just a suggestion but take steps only after going through all the parameters.

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