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I've developed a website for a building company. They have an "investments" page with their buildings for sale. They are available through http://example.com/investments/new-york/building1 and they are in Google as such. Now they want to buy same domains (eg building1.com) and have exactly the same content as the longer links, with slightly different design and also put them in Google. They are all simple pages with 3-4 subpages. How does it look from SEO point of view?

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Simple answer. Terrible.

Besides the fact that there will be duplicate content that will not appear in the SERPs, purchasing additional domains does not solve problems, it creates them.

It is always far better to build and focus on one domain than to divide your efforts. As well, any domain with just a few pages can never rank. Especially a new domain. Any new domain has not developed the metrics that allows the domain itself, let alone the pages, to rank. Trust metrics are a huge part of ranking in the SERPs. Your original domain has developed trust metrics such as site age, branding, etc., and any new domain will not have the opportunity to do this quickly.

The issue with duplicate content cannot be escaped. Search engines use semantics to find duplicate content. The reason is that previously spammers would simply rearrange the page to avoid any duplicate content issues. Today, the pages have semantic scores that are compared and linear comparisons are not made anymore. This means unless the content is completely original, it will be marked as duplicate and not appear in the SERPs.

Another element of importance are back links. Any new domain will have trouble gaining traction in this area. While you can link to your own page, it will not be enough to build rank and search traffic. Your parent domain will have advantages here. If these pages are important to highlight, then links from the home page should really help highlight the importance and gain a few positions in the SERPs.

SEO is an effort of building in incremental stages. You have advantages with your existing domain that will fully disappear using a new domain.

Also another consideration is changes and cost of doing business. While it may not seem like it costs a lot to put up another domain, the costs really do add up when you calculate the additional costs of development and efforts not considered. As well, changes are less flexible. Say you sell one of those buildings. What then? Domains are not easy to simply dispose of and as new buildings are acquired, you will be registering new domains following your schema.

You additional domains can be seen as being spammy. Search engines use the term clustering as a technique to identify relationships between pages, domains, hosts, etc., looking specifically for relationships between entities. New entities within a cluster is always seen as being suspect until proven otherwise. Adding several new domains with duplicate content will negatively effect the results you are seeking as well as potentially down-grading the performance of your parent site.

I could get into a long list of issues here, but I think I made my point. It is far better to focus on one domain and making it the best it can be. If the problem is traffic to these pages, then there are things you can do. For example, listing the property and linking to the page on your site. Simple. You can link to your hot properties from the home page. You can focus/target each page for search traffic specific to those searchers who are looking for property. Each page will have to be tuned toward the search traffic that applies to that properties assets. This should be relatively easy to do.

SEO is about doing better and not about doing more. It is always best to keep things simple and not to over complicate matters. In the end, search engines really like simple!

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