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We have a particular situation here, and I would like some advice on the SEO side of things.

We have our main site, [businessName.tld], which contains all our marketing-related info, lead-generating landing pages, etcetera.

Now, we're setting up a second site, [ourTools.tld], which details the primary tools we use to do our work. This is mostly oriented at existing customers, so they can see what we do in greater detail than on our main marketing site. This second site is completely separate: different domain, different server, different CMS.

On our main site, we also have descriptions about most of the tools we use, some of which are on their own landing pages and others just on overview pages. Most of the content and descriptions are similar (think: copy-paste and change a few words), with the descriptions on the secondary site being a bit longer. The secondary site also contains our business name a lot, and a nearly exact copy of the "about us" text from our main website. So basically, a lot of duplicate content.

My question now is: how will this affect our SEO ratings?

  • It feels like we're competing with ourselves here. The secondary site has our company name in it as often as our main site, so if someone googles our company, could the secondary site end up outranking the main site?
  • Will Google penalise our secondary site for having the same basic content (with limited changes) as our main site, on an entirely separate domain? Is this something that can be fixed with canonical or something else?
  • Will it affect the ranking of our main site?

I've tried searching but all articles and discussions that I find are about duplicate content within the same website and domain. Any help or advice will be very welcome.

  • We talk about duplicate content across domains here all the time. It is perfectly fine to have a few duplicated paragraphs here or there, but largely duplicate content will be ignored without a canonical tag. As well, it is always far better to rank one site instead of two. Depending upon how you do your work, one site will likely effect the other in some way. Just keep that in mind and adjust according to what you see. – closetnoc Feb 2 '16 at 16:20
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Official/main websites are different from blogs or sites dedicated to providing rich content. I found that most official websites have few words or paragraphs in many pages (and the same phrase, word, sentence or paragraph). This is not an issue as long as you clearly include key official information, such as: Google Business and Map, your address and contact information, and what the site is about. Here, site authority is the key.

Besides that, you can also include a link in the homepage of the main official site with one menu item (e.g., "Blog") that leads to a blog which contains more than seven paragraphs. This is common for official sites.

Perhaps you want to create a backlink and so possibly more related pages appear in Google SERP. However, it's better to build a subdomain for other related information instead of building a new site.

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You can use a cross-domain canonical link element. You can learn more about it from here. Hopefully that will be useful for you.

It will not affect the ranking of your main site, but there is risk of a Panda penalty for your second site. And yes, with having two sites you are competing with yourself.

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