I have a client with an existing and established .com website. We currently added a .ca domain with duplicate content so that users in Canada will recognize this as a Canadian company as well (we have offices in both U.S. and Canada and want Canadian customers to recognize it as local).

My question is.. when searching from Canada which domain will show? Analytics show that Canadian customers are still going to .com instead of .ca. How do I fix/control this?

Also, in Webmaster Tools I do have .ca targeted for Canada.

  • .com is a global TLD. I always thought .us was specific to the U.S. - although I don't know how common that is?
    – MrWhite
    May 21 '15 at 16:50

Google always prefers original webpages rather than duplicated ones.


Google tries hard to index and show pages with distinct information. This filtering means, for instance, that if your site has a "regular" and "printer" version of each article, and neither of these is blocked with a noindex meta tag, we'll choose one of them to list. In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we'll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.

You won't be penalized for that, as you can see. But be careful and just do something else.

There are different ways of solve this situation:

  1. Create subdomains dedicated to countries. Like: http://canada.example.com and http://usa.example.com
  2. Create subfolder website dedicated to countries. Like http://www.example.com/canada and http://www.example.com/usa If you do that, lot of resources needs to be redirected to new urls.

There's also another solution:

  1. Just have a script in your homepage that recognizes geographic location of your user and show some hint in your header, like "We ship to Canada for Free" and country flag near it.

First approach is good only if you have different departments in your organization and they need indipendence an there's no possibility to do in different way. So, discard it.

Second one for SEO and marketing reasons is far better. You keep "reputation" in the eyes of Google, and you can differentiate content.

More here: http://moz.com/community/q/moz-s-official-stance-on-subdomain-vs-subfolder-does-it-need-updating

Third one is the best if you don't have particular reason except "just tell people that I'm in their country". Here an example: https://moz.com/blog/holygrail-of-ecommerce-conversion-optimization-91-points-checklist#7

And I think that's the case. Also, you can do a simple landing page and optimize it for telling people what you do, where you are in your country, and keep the rest of the website the same.

  • I understand this and I agree with your suggestions, but that is not what we want to do. In regards to the "duplicate content" from support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192?hl=en#3 "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."
    – khejduk
    May 21 '15 at 15:49
  • Look at the last part. "However, if you're providing the same content to the same users on different URLs (for instance, if both example.de/ and example.com/de/ show German language content for users in Germany), you should pick a preferred version and redirect (or use the rel=canonical link element) appropriately. In addition, you should follow the guidelines on rel-alternate-hreflang to make sure that the correct language or regional URL is served to searchers." That means, you should stick with one: choose the .com as canonical page and target to US your .com. But I don't recommend it.
    – lucgenti
    May 21 '15 at 16:00
  • I understand that too, but it is same content different users (not same for same). That example is both for Germany. Mine is .com for International, .ca for Canada
    – khejduk
    May 21 '15 at 16:23
  • You can't have total control on that, you'll always risk to show same content to same users. However, in this scenario, you need to do new link building activity for your new domain. If you want to "accelerate" a bit, you should redirect 301 some of the old resources on your .com to your new .ca, it depends on what you need.
    – lucgenti
    May 21 '15 at 16:47

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