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I've got a web site which for historical reasons has two or three pages that appear closely in serps for any given search term.

The site is a spanish language site with two different but related domains, capital-federal.enbuenosaires.com.ar and www.enbuenosaires.com.

An example would be the search term: "propiedades en venta en almagro" (properties for sale in almagro).

PR1 - SERP 1 Position 3: http://www.enbuenosaires.com/almagro-ventas.html

PR1 - SERP 1 Position 6: http://capital-federal.enbuenosaires.com.ar/m-almagro/departamentos-ventas-es_AR.html

This is one isolated example but there are many (thousands) of pages some appearing high up, some further down in the SERPs.

The pages in the www.enbuenosaires.com page are newer (since 2013) and updated in real time.

The page in the capital-federal.enbuenosaires.com.ar domain heavily interlink to each other and are older (have been around since 2007) and are updated weekly.

Many of the pages seem to have reasonable PR (0,1,2) and have been indexed without a problem.

My question is what should I do? My feeling is that I should reduce the number of pages in order to "distill" and concentrate page rank within the site and thus appear higher in the SERPs.

Things which occur to me are:

  1. prune the site (remove one of the pages) and 301 from one of the pages to the other
  2. prune the site (remove one of the pages) and 301 to a central "sitemap" page with links to the "canonical" landing pages
  3. generally reduce the pages via 301 to the home page of www.enbuenosaires.com
  4. leave it as it is

Any suggestions or comments with reasoning very welcome.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you remove pages you generally don't want to redirect them to a central location. When you do this, Google considers them "soft 404" and tries to treat them the same way as if you had just removed them and let them be 404 pages. I wouldn't redirect any pages to a sitemap or home page.

The other possibility would be to use the meta rel canonical tag:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://blog.example.com/dresses/green-dresses-are-awesome" />

You could use that instead of removing the page and issuing a 301 redirect. Google treats pages with a rel canonical in similar ways to URLs that 301 redirect. This could be a good option for you because users could still view that content with the brand and site that is most comfortable and familiar to them.

Consolidating pages can help rankings.

  • It combines PageRank together giving pages more power to be able to rank
  • It can make the site less confusing for visitors leading to better user experience and better rankings from that.
  • It prevents issues with duplicate content. When the same text appears on two different pages, Google generally picks only one to show in the results. This is especially true when the content is on different domains. In the worst case, there could be site wide penalties for having too much duplicated content.

I have never seen dramatic SEO benefit from JUST consolidating pages. I would expect a boost of a couple percentage points at most.

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Hi Stephen, I really appreciate you analysis, I checked out a video by Matt Cutts on the canonical link (to understand better how to implement it) and came accross this part: youtube.com/watch?v=Cm9onOGTgeM#t=733 which states you cannot do a canonical link accross domains, this video is from Feb 2009 so perhaps its out of date, what's your take on this, would you suggest doing a 301 in this instance? –  Simon B Apr 19 at 11:38
    
Google announced in December of 2009 that they support cross domain canonicals: googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/12/… –  Stephen Ostermiller Apr 20 at 0:35

Or option 5, 310 redirect all of your sub-domain pages http://capital-federal.enbuenosaires.com.ar/m-almagro/departamentos-ventas-es_AR.html to your parent domain pages http://www.enbuenosaires.com/almagro-ventas.html.

I respect wanting to keep any PR and link juice you have. I understand the concern. It is a valid argument for retaining the sub-domain structure. However, the sub-domain structure is a bit hard to maintain and more importantly, hard on your users. You have to decide what you want for a site structure and it sounds like now is a good time to do just that.

I like the idea of not having sub-domains except under rather rare exceptions where it makes sense.

Some argue that there is a %10-15 cost for a 301 redirect. Even with that expense, and based upon my experience, I think that I would be redirecting your sub-domain pages to a more consolidated site organization that would carry you into the future. In time, you will be able to drop the sub-domain pages altogether.

As well, I would be concerned about having duplicate content or at least the appearance of having duplicate content. Even if you are not penalized today, who knows what winds will blow your way from over the Google mountain. (Sounds like a dark Disney movie title to me... I'll option that idea!) You may find yourself scrambling at sometime to reorganize your site anyway. It may be best to do it now and get it over with. It may be the best things to do for your user. It may be the best thing to do for yourself.

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