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If I have two sites with almost the same content at example.com and example.co.uk but each is designed to take orders from the appropriate respective geographic location (i.e. .com from the USA and .co.uk from the UK) how does Google handle this in terms of assigning rank?

Do I lose pagerank by having duplicate content across the same domain name on different TLDs? How can I limit SEO damage, if any?

I note there are already answers to other questions that offer rel="canonical" as a solution but, in the case outlined, I would not want to pass pagerank from one site to the other but keep the same pagerank (as far as possible) for both and have Google serve up the appropriate site for the region the user is searching from (or for).

My priority is not losing pagerank.

I observe that it is quite common for large multinationals to have multiple sites across international domains but in most cases they seem to have different content. Perhaps this a deliberate SEO choice as well as practical?

In my case, the product of the websites is web hosting and the data centres are located in each respective country as well as each site using local currency for orders so it is important to have this localisation, but the products on both sites are essentially the same so the product info on each site does not differ.

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seo.com/blog/multiple-domains-seo recommends rewriting content for the duplicate international sites. –  authentictech Jul 31 '13 at 17:52
    
webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/403/… suggests "You can have separate sites like example.co.uk and example.com.au targeted at audiences in different countries. The sites may have duplicate content with slight spelling differences and still rank well. In fact, multiple well localized sites in the same language may rank better than a single site in that language." but I would still like to have a citation to back this up. Maybe if that answer had the cite I would mark this as a duplicate and that as the answer. –  authentictech Jul 31 '13 at 18:04
    
Here is the cite I was looking for support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192?hl=en#3 –  authentictech Jul 31 '13 at 18:20
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See this related question. –  dan Aug 1 '13 at 5:07

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

According to https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192?hl=en#3 it appears that Google will not penalise sites for duplicating content under different URLs as long as it is clear that they are intended for a different audience (as it would seem to be if the ccTLDs are different but the domain names are the same):

Websites that provide content for different regions and in different languages sometimes create content that is the same or similar but available on different URLs. This is generally not a problem as long as the content is for different users in different countries. While we strongly recommend that you provide unique content for each different group of users, we understand that this may not always be possible. There is generally no need to "hide" the duplicates by disallowing crawling in a robots.txt file or by using a "noindex" robots meta tag.

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