E-Commerce at ECP
16 May 2011 15:54pm
Online Sales Manager at Three
09 June 2011 19:27pm
I've picked up on this thread as we have three websites that use exactly the same content but under different domains .co.uk, .ie and .com
The difference between the sites is limited, primarily currency differences and some static pages are unique to the domains.
The primary website website is the UK one.
My question is by having these duplicate sites, are we lowering our potential ranking of our natural/organic keywords for the UK site because Google is viewing the Irish (.ie) and European (.com) as equal authority? Are we diluting the potential better quality score for the UK site because doesn't know where to award authority?
Should we be telling google 'ignore these other sites and just use the UK' through canonical tagging?
If we do, could we see significant improvements in our UK natural rankings?
CEO at Econsultancy
10 June 2011 09:39am
My best guess is that it wouldn't make much difference if you did that. I think Google will look at the sites, and indeed the pages within the site, on their own merit and rank them accordingly. We find that the same story on our blog can sometimes rank top in its US version and sometimes the UK version despite the fact they are exactly the same. It's largely a factor of inbound links as to which ranks better.
10 June 2011 10:21am
Just to clarify, as long as we tell Google in Webmaster which countries the sites should be associated, do you think Google takes into account where the sites are hosted. All three of ours are hosted in the UK via Rackspace.
I do notice a lowering of position of associated keywords if I do a search in Google Adword Preview. For example, 'display cabinet', we are featured 7th in google.ie but if I ask to only show 'Pages from Ireland', the position changes to 10th.
I've been advised to have our Irish site hosted in Ireland which would cause, I believe, technical management issues as well as extra expense. Is it worth it?
10 June 2011 11:08am
@Stephen - personally I think *where* the site is hosted is pretty irrelevant. I think Google certainly takes note of country level domains as indicators of location (pretty logical) but doesn't much care where the server is hosted / the servers' IP address(es).
We moved our site hosting from the UK to Amazon cloud services in the US and it made no difference at all to our UK rankings. I think it's all about the external link profile that Google sees - if it sees lots of UK (authority) sites linking to your site then it would rank you well in the UK irrespective of where your site is hosted.
I'm not convinced the technical hassle/cost of having multiple servers in many countries is worth it. Where it might make sense is where you basically have completely separate businesses in each country - so different top level domain, probably different language, customer data is stored in that country (all sorts of privacy/legal things to consider here), marketing and content is local etc. Then the sites' operations are probably separate anyway.
10 June 2011 12:07pm
As ever, thanks for your quick and thorough feedback.
Director at ThinkMetrics
10 June 2011 12:45pm
I think Ashley has given us Google's definitive answer on server location.
I have experienced some of my SEO clients moving UK sites between USA hosting and UK - there was no impact on listings in Google.co.uk or Google.com.
Getting Google to focus on the .co.uk site WILL damage existing listings in Google.ie and Google.com for the .ie and .com versions (which will probably be dropped as non-existent) while the .co.uk version will never get the same ranks. If you think about it, it's perfectly logical for Google to give a higher rank in Google.ie to a .ie site than a .co.uk site even if everything else is the same. In other words, you can't have the same level of authority for all three sites in any given search engine - the most relevant will always gain higher authority. Thus the .ie will always have greater authority in Google.ie than the .co.uk version - because it's a .ie (and assuming everything else is equal).
Remember that your rank is not just "your" rank - it is always relative to the other sites listed. A co.uk site will therefore inevitably do worse in Google.ie against .ie sites than your .ie site.
Multiple versions of the same content only become an issue where Google could legitimately use them all. When that happens you are, effectively, competing with yourself. However, so long as your content is listed and not a competitor's, you're still getting that same space. If someone arrives from the wrong country, the server can always move them to the appropriate version automatically. Coming from a sales background, my attitude is "get them in the door by any means and sort them out afterwards."
The situation is more complex with .com because of the conflict between whether a .com means US-national, as most US citizens believe, or international. In my view Google.com tries to cover both, and the result is inconsistent and erratic.
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