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My Company is currently in the early planning phases of a project where we are playing with the idea of hosting our web project on multiple continents. The idea is to push local users to the closest server possible to decrease loading times. This will likely involve mirroring the web project across each server. Thats cool and not our dilemma at the moment - remember we are in the planning/design phase.

The concern which was brought up yesterday (and caused myself and acouple others to lose sleep) is the SEO effect of hosting on multiple servers. What our fear is, is that with say 3 servers running in 3 different continents we are going to have duplicate content on each of those 3 servers. Now we can use url canonicalization to go from domain.com www.domain.com so search engines view the url as a single url and everything resolves to the same url (good for SEO). But what we wont be able to do that any of us can foresee is IP canonicalization to tell search engines that all three instances are all the same site possibly confusing SEs on which url is the correct one to index (or so our worry is). In the experience of other webmasters is there a correct way to go about this? Has in any of your past experiences has running multiple instances of a website in this manner negatively effected your SEO efforts? If yes do you guys have any ideas on how to minimize the potential of pages not being indexed by going this route?

I know its a pretty small part of the ranking algorithms but it is enough that we want to have this planned out as best as we can especially considering the scale of the project.

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If all sites have the same domain, the IP address is largely irrelevant. Search bots readily understand content delivery networks and multiple content.

Google treats sites on a domain basis not an IP basis. They do have some logic to identify spamming based on IP ranges and bad neighbors, but if you are just hosting your content, then you don't have to worry about that.

Also, instead of pushing content to multiple locations, why not just use a CDN that can do it for you?

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Thanks jeff, thats a really promising answer and greatly appreciated. Google search didn't seem to have any solid answers as to if redundant hosting IPs would appear as duplicate content. As for the CDNs, yes we will be using them when and where possible however there are aspects of this project which won't allow us to deliver everything we need using a CDN to maximize speeds. Much to our dismay the technology just isn't there quite yet (almost). –  John Smith Aug 11 at 18:27
    
I've not seen much discussion of this recently but Google used to favor locally hosted sites for country specific versions of Google. For example, a site hosted in the UK would out rank a site hosted in the US for the UK version of Google. I would expect this to make some logical sense -- especially for local search. –  jeffatrackaid Aug 11 at 19:44
    
You're right and thats one of the reasons why we are chasing this route like we are. However the bigger elephant in the room is the legalities of offering a legitimate web based program in some countries. It's alot easier to be locally hosted and obtain the proper licenses to operate there then to hope that the local politicians dont decide to ban traffic from XYZ country on that particular day. As you can probably tell by this comment, SEO is only one aspect we are taking into consideration for the front end of everything. –  John Smith Aug 12 at 21:50

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