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I have a new client and they sell magazines online.

They have 5-10 different websites/domains that are all pretty much exactly the same. The codebase is the same. The magazines available for sale are the same. The only real difference is graphics and some colors.

Is there any benefit to doing this or is it always better to use one site?

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IMO, more than the duplicate content issue, this situation is having a big-time user experience & management issue.

Bad user experience

  • It's very difficult as a buyer to decide which website to trust?
  • Which website to stick to for purchases?
  • How can one expect search engines to trust any of the website & show up on search results? Engines would concern lesser over duplicate content.

Management Issues

  • Brand loyalty could be missing in customers.
  • Managing these duplicate sites is always going to be unfocused efforts, time consuming & difficult to track on regular basis.

I would vouch & push for

  • Have a single website & concentrate all efforts on one website.
  • Very easy to do this to have Social Media presence & engagement
  • Easy to manage online paid campaigns
  • Domain Authority has better chance of increase
  • & eventually more satisfied customers
  • Do not create domain level 301 redirects to the (new) one website. This carries a danger of redirecting the penalties as well.

Hope that helps.

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I can't see any benefit at all.

If you're trying to sell the same magazine with a few logo variations, then instead of creating a page for each variation, merge them together to create just only one page about the magazine itself and show pictures of the variations on the same page.

The differences between two pages should be large enough for them to naturally qualify as separate pages on the web, otherwise they will run into Google's duplicate content penalty. This means some pages will never be indexed.

Also, search engines do not understand graphics in web pages when trying to index them in search engines and because of this and your idea, there's a likelihood that Google will flag your site for having duplicate content.

You're better off redirecting the 4 - 9 domains to one common domain.

You may also want to search the web for tools that check your domains for duplicate content before making them all available to the web.

  • The duplicate content is 35%. Common content is 36%. Unique content is 29%. Pretty bad right? says duplicate content is 84% more than all other sites. what is common content? shouldn't i just give my client the reason why multiple of the same site is bad: "your SEO is taking a big hit because of google duplicate penalty". can you see google duplicate penalty in google analytics? – Ryan Aug 15 '15 at 5:46
  • Content is text. If you have two pages with the exact same stories and the only things different are the pictures then that still counts as complete duplicate content because at this time, search engines don't scan individual pixels in web page images. You may want to refer your client to Google's webmaster quality guidelines. – Mike Aug 16 '15 at 2:36

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