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I'm working on redeveloping a small site for a boutique food producer. They are New Zealand based but are wanting to start selling in Australia. They have both domain names (.co.nz and .com.au).

Essentially, most content on the site will be the same for both countries. There will be some minor differences (i.e. contact page, locations) but really it's just the product pricing that will differ.

My first thought is to set it up so that .com.au and .co.nz point to the same site (codebase) and dynamically switch the content parts that change depending on the domain. This makes sense from a development point of view.

However, will I be penalised for 'duplicate content'? and how could I avoid that.

I could set canonical urls for all pages - perhaps to point to the NZ version but that would harm the AU SEO?

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One site will be punished for duplicate content. There's no other way to make both sites rank on 2 different domains. You could use one domain and aim for both locations on the one domain. Personally I'd use the .com and redirect nz and au to .com and have everything under one roof. There's a few other members on this site who know a bit more than me knowledge on Multiple sites across region that should hopefully get back to you on this issue.... but with this said I do SEO and generally there is no loophole on duplicate content.. Otherwise I'd have a million sites :P –  bybe Mar 19 '13 at 23:07
    
Thanks, the .com might be the best bet as you suggest. If they are reluctant to give up the .co.nz, would my idea of having the canonical versions of all pages point to .co.nz get around the dup content issue? I know it would mean in theory that the au site wouldn't rank but maybe they prefer this compromise to using .com –  Matt Mar 20 '13 at 0:16

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

You will not be penalized for duplicate content. Google allows two sites that target two different countries with the same content. I've worked with a site that successfully targets US differently from UK using the same content on a .com and .co.uk domain.

Because you are using top level country domains the following should be done for you by Google: Log into Google Webmaster Tools under "Configuration" -> "Settings" and make sure each site has country targeting set correctly.

Each site should be its own canonical URL. You want Google to index both sites. Do not point canonical URLs from the NZ to the AU site or from the AU to the NZ site.

You could use alternate hreflang links between the two sites:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-AU" href="http://example.com.au/" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-NZ" href="http://example.co.nz/" />
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Thanks, I'm surprised at the no-penalty but thats is good news :) Do you have any reference documents where Google say this? –  Matt Mar 20 '13 at 3:34
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Found it: support.google.com/webmasters/bin/… and marked your answer as accepted. –  Matt Mar 20 '13 at 3:38

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