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I am not experienced technical person, and still learning but will try to explain what I have done so far and what my query is.

I have a (hypothetical) domain az-studios.com

On that domain I have 3 subdomains:

london.az-studios.com

newyork.az-studios.com

paris.az-studios.com

Each of them have 301 header redirections as follows:

london.az-studios.com -> www.az-studios.com/london

newyork.az-studios.com -> www.az-studios.com/newyork

paris.az-studios.com -> www.az-studios.com/paris

So I can maintain only one unique HTML document (that appears to be three different paths) I have setup .htaccess to use MOD_REWRITE as follows:

www.az-studios.com/london -> www.az-studios.com?city=london

www.az-studios.com/newyork -> www.az-studios.com?city=newyork

www.az-studios.com/paris -> www.az-studios.com?city=paris

This is so far the existing structure.

I have recently purchased three (hypothetical) keyword rich domains:

movie-studio-london.com

movie-studio-newyork.com

movie-studio-paris.com

What I would like to achieve is to have these three domains pointing as following:

www.movie-studio-london.com -> www.az-studios.com?city=london

www.movie-studio-newyork.com -> www.az-studios.com?city=newyork

www.movie-studio-paris.com -> www.az-studios.com?city=paris

The only tricky thing I can't figure out is how I do that so that from a Google SEO point of view, it does not use 301 redirects, no frame.

I would like www.movie-studio-london.com to show to visitors (and especially Google bots) as a standard website (with no funny JavaScript, links, 301 redirect, frames etc).

Some of you might scream "duplicate content" but the websites, although using the same index.php are very different.

I am also aware that this could be seen as doorway but these new purchased domains really define (with keywords) my products and what the different websites are about.

Any idea? Any more details, please ask...

Thanks

Vincent

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Your best of using keyword rich URLS instead of keyword rich 'Exact Keyword Domains' since Google has clocked onto this and EMD is not as valuable as good as it used to be, its harder to rank than using branding.com/keywords for example. –  bybe Feb 25 '13 at 17:43

1 Answer 1

A few years ago, buying keyword rich domains and putting content on them was a good strategy. Google's algorithm really seemed to favor sites that had keywords in the domain name. There was some speculation as to whether this was caused by Google using keywords in the domain as a strong signal on its own, or whether these sites got so many links with their url as the anchor text that it was all the keywords in the resulting anchor text that was boosting their rankings.

But that was then, now Google has adjusted the algorithms such that having a keyword domain does not get you rankings. In fact, networks of sites (like you are proposing) are often considered "spammy" and "manipulative" by Google. In addition, your domain name should be your brand. When you have multiple domain names it is hard to build a cohesive brand. Google loves ranking strong brands.

I would suggest using the URLs with the city as a page on your main domain (www.az-studios.com/london). That gives you the city in the URL. The distinction of in the page name or in the domain isn't important anymore. It allows you to build your brand. It allows you to set cookies for your users that save state over your whole site. It prevents Google from applying a "network of sites" penalty against you.

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I agree entirely with your answer. And I know that Google has devalued EMD's, but I don't think they're exactly useless... yet. Or has it been determined that domain names are completely disregarded as a signal? –  nathangiesbrecht Feb 26 '13 at 19:01
    
I wouldn't say that they are disregarded, however the brand signal from a combined domain is much stronger right now. –  Stephen Ostermiller Feb 26 '13 at 19:03

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