Posted by: Shalabh | September 17, 2008

The web is its own criminal, its own police and its own crime reporter! Multiple domains & good vs bad SEO

Curiosity- it proverbially killed the cat-and yet it is an important attribute for today’s marketer. Reminds me of a senior ‘strategy type’ (read account planner) who mused “things must have changed completely in digital marketing since even about half a decade back…no?” *smirk*

Sure. Things have changed. Or have they? The way online media is planned, operations, analytics and other stuff associated with media?

Actually most media planning in the internet space still is pretty similar to what we did long ago- Complexity increased, scale changed- but pretty much similar nuts and bolts. Ditto within ad ops- ad trafficking, reporting, serving etc have not changed drastically- features and some processes have undergone a makeover, but nothing drastic. Nah!

This probably merits another post- and I’ll not ramble anymore- you get the idea. Basically things haven’t changed so drastically. Hypothetically speaking- if there was a marketer who had been in the digital marketing space 6-10 years ago- and took a sabbatical- if they come back again, they will not find things *that* drastically different. Even in those times – there were ad-products *serious* on behavioral targeting, SEM multichannel marketing, ecom/lead gen and -why even social media optimization, though the term wasn’t around. They even had Mobile marketing coming up. The next big thing. And it continues to be- the next big thing.

Maybe too much happened in too short a time frame. And many things ahead of their times then, seem to have made a comeback. Anyways- half the post is over- and this is NOT what I’m going to talk about.

What I’m going to talk about is- SEO -a topic of great interest to me in the good old days, it somehow got ‘backburnered’ in the last few years. (company of too many advertising agency types)

So with the intention of clearing the web  off (pun *intended*) my old interests, I ventured to social media- and decided to ask the experts a question on SEO- but not in a normal straight jacket form (Do you think SEO has changed in its practice…). I posted a question on Linkedin to SEO experts:

Question:This is a question on how to best utilise multiple domains for better ranking. Say, I have site focused on Organic Farming. Now, I have two domains, one with a company/trademark/brand name domain (say, http://www.maati.com) and another one- that is generic to the service I’m providing (say, http://www.organicfarming.com.sg or organicfarmingsingapore.com), what is the best way to use both the domains so that my rankings are positively influenced? I want Maati to be my Hero domain- because it is trademarked and a brand name. Both the domains have the same age as well.

Most experts, while elucidating, gave an indication that SEO experts still deploy similar tactics as was done few years back. Many things have changed, rather obviously, while others have assumed greater importance over time (backlinks/anchor text for example). Off page optimisation clearly has assumed more importance- and more on the “upcoming trends in SEO” in another post.

One highlight was that- most misconstrued the question as whether one wanted to trick the search engines by duplicating content on multiple domains.

Even outside of my question, amongst the fraternity, duplicate content is an absolute nah nah for engines and word is that they ‘penalize’ if you indulge in this tactic.

Some (rather dramatic) revelations from the answers supporting the penalization theory:

  • flag immediately – duplicate content – you might get banned…. and OF COURSE YOU SHOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT GETTING YOUR SITE BANNED FROM GOOGLE
  • you can be penalised by search engines such as Google for duplicate content
  • Watering down your efforts over multiple sites/ domains may or may not get you “banned from Google” depending on how you go about it
  • Do not create duplicate content, that is a very big no no, whilst there is some benefit from keywords in your domain name, it is a small factor that will not help your site too much!
  • the search engines will over a period of time will identify it as a duplicate content and have you blacklisted.

Yet there are many who do not think having duplicate content will ‘blacklist’ your site. And I’m not saying I intend to do it. I have a simple policy when it comes to SEO- follow best practices and common sense- don’t be evil (heard this somewhere?), yet be smart and know the walkarounds- legally. It’s a bit like taxes- if you don’t pay your taxes- by cooking up your books or doing something illegal- that’s tax evasion. Crime. Naughty. Can get you in trouble. Compare this to blackhat SEO techniques (KW stuffing/hidden text/multiple doorways/illegal link farms etc etc)

The other method of reducing tax impact is called Tax avoidance. Approved. Tickmarked- by the government and by law. There are official tax planners who advice on tax avoidance. Compare this to search engine optimization.You get the idea.

Actually, duplicate content might not be so much of a bad thing. At least not in the way people make it out to be. As a matter of fact, Google just issued a release in its official webmaster central blog– essentially it says that you *CAN* use similar content across multiple domains- in case you add some unique value to the content every time is replicated.

Verbatim:

  1. When we detect duplicate content, such as through variations caused by URL parameters, we group the duplicate URLs into one cluster.
  2. We select what we think is the “best” URL to represent the cluster in search results.
  3. We then consolidate properties of the URLs in the cluster, such as link popularity, to the representative URL.

Verdict? Be like musicians. Get ‘Inspired’ by someone else’s work- add your own nuances- and voila- ready to be passed off as new!

Be good- people. The web is its own criminal, The web is its own police and the web is its own crime reporter. Decide what you want to be.

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Responses

  1. great article, I’m thinking that the public statement about duplicate content is great for blogs, localized resellers, pyramid schemes and ppc landing pages. My only worry is the green light given to large sites to spam on a massive scale. One very large travel site has already been using software to automate the duplication of content, initially the results are terrible and not relevant but is on first page in google…

  2. […] something illegal- thats tax evasion. Crime. Naughty. Can get you in trouble…. source: The web is its own criminal, its own police and its own crime reporter! Multiple domains and good vs…, Pixel Plans-Blog On Digital Media Trends. Asian […]

  3. This is a good topic and I like seeing people help the web evolve, however, I have a different view on the way we should do SEO. I have laid it out in laymans terms, so that anyone can get it right the first time. SEO is not complex, so for anyone looking to get their site on Google, Yahoo and MSN’s page 1 or 2 with a weeks or so check out what I have to offer.

    Sam
    http://www.GeeksGuideToSeo.info


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