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StupidScript
2nd September 2004, 11:02 PM
Here's the scenario:

I have five websites, each connected to my business' ordering process.

The five sites each focus on one aspect of a particular industry, say, the fabric production industry.

They all overlap in certain sections of the content, say, in the raw materials production and processing sections. Of course, one website focuses nearly entirely on these subjects.

Someone searches for "raw wool production" using Google.

How would Google's algorithm (and those from other engines) handle this in the results display?

Would my sites be displayed in order of relevance, or would the display algorithm filter limit my exposure based on my ownership (and honest reporting of same)?

I ask because I haven't the patience to design the tests and collect the data and run the stats ...
;)

Christian_SEO
3rd September 2004, 10:58 PM
Without seeing your sites, it seems that you have a good reason to have as many as you do. As long as the content is mostly different it can be a good approach. One large site is generally the preferred way to go, but I don't think it matters that much.

So if the sites are the same, the only other thing that could "bother" you is if the sites are all on the same IP address, or in the same IP "block". But if you are not heavily duplicating content, or using the same site template for all of them, I think your "risk" is very low. Even if there is some overlap, it may not be a problem, but if there is it should be reflected in the Google Page Rank of each site.

So, in my opinion, if you have five seperate sites and each has mostly different content with a different focus (even if one covers all, it's still different), then you have five sites and each will preform based on all the things that Google or other search engines consider.

You have not asked about site optimization, so I won't get into that, except to say that if you have not done so you should optimize each site based on it's content, and each should show up according to how well each is optimized. If you have some overlap and do a good job, then you should have some nice placements for each topics, but of course there may be gaps in the placements, as you might expect.

I hope this helps a little. I'm sure others will have an opinion also.

Old Welsh Guy
6th September 2004, 08:20 AM
HI SS, Google might do nothing, as it does not ban pages for duplicated content, and is crap at picking up cross linking. Yahoo! on the other hand is a different animal, it seems very able at picking up multiple domain cross linking sites, and drops them all from its index.

May I ask how different these sites are, and why you have separate sites all linking to a common order page? Surely this tells me that they are sections within a site rather than individual sites?

You could be throwing away the opportunity to be seen by Google as an expert hub or authority site.

David Wallace
6th September 2004, 12:42 PM
I had a client that had about 10 web properties dealing with travel nursing in which they accepted online resumes through one form at one domain. They got all their sites kicked out of the top directories such as DMOZ, JoeAnt, GoGuides, etc. and now each domain has a history log at each of these directories as a domain spammer, at least in the eyes of editors there, even though each site is a different brand with its own content.

Moral of the story - keep your sites separate. There is no reason why each site cannot have its own order system or process.

Old Welsh Guy
6th September 2004, 04:33 PM
Agreed David, it is that one element that concerns me, they are either separate, or combined. If combined, then one domain, if separatre, then no connection.

Patrick
6th September 2004, 08:40 PM
If combined, then one domain, if separate, then no connection.

I think the way the pages on the various domains link to each other is more important than which domain they sit on, and that the overall link structure is the crucial thing to get right, even if it's only a very few links between the five domains.

Also if it were me, I would structure the whole thing around which pages you want to receive the most traffic (irrespective of which domain they're on).

In the long run the "big site" versus "small site" comparison is less important than how all the pages work together.

StupidScript
7th September 2004, 12:43 PM
I think David and OWG brought to my attention the most-likely downsides of an arrangement as I described. The issues with Yahoo and single ordering mechanism.

We do have several dozen domains, each of which is designed and optimized for a different "perception of authority" and set of search phrases. Each site uses its own form submission interface, however all of the data ends up funnelling into our master database, back at the office.

My primary concern is due to the fact that our company has branded each of the sites. While each of the sites speak to separate facets of our industry, I believe that regardless of the sites' contents, we may be incurring penalties simply due to our ownership of the domains.

We want to continue to maintain separate sites so our visitors feel we have special insight into the different areas of our industry and to SEO the pages without getting too convoluted or too diluted.

We have determined that people who are looking for expertise in the different areas of our industry respond in different ways to different site designs, and that positioning ourselves within one site as a "swiss army knife" company capable of handling any aspect of our industry lessens the "perceived authority" we hold in any one of the areas, which encourages us to keep the sites separate yet still under our brand.

So, is the basic consensus (if there is one) that we might be incurring or maybe will incur some kind of search engine penalties unless we completely separate the sites (with different brands and such)?

Patrick
7th September 2004, 09:06 PM
I don't think you will be incurring any search engine penalties at all, whether you choose to put your pages on one domain or on several. Google has no reason to downgrade your rankings just because of how you choose to organise your pages, as long as they are all bona fide. In my opinion there is no performance reason why you need to conceal or disguise what you've done from a search engine. From what you've said, you've built for humans.

It would be a different matter if you had duplicate content (however that is defined) or if you were cloning sites. And as I said, your link structure is important, as it would be within a single domain or across a large number.

Patrick

David Wallace
8th September 2004, 09:20 AM
We do have several dozen domains, each of which is designed and optimized for a different "perception of authority" and set of search phrases. Each site uses its own form submission interface, however all of the data ends up funnelling into our master database, back at the office.
If each site has its own data collecting interfaces then this should not be a problem and is not the same scenario I was referring to above. In the situation above, each site would send you to one specific domain where all the data collecting occurred. because each site was similar in nature, they were seen at least by editors of directories to be the same and as a result they would de-list all the sites with the exception of the main one that was collecting the data.