How To Solve The Riddle Of Multiple Duplicate Websites

market motive seoFrom the Market Motive Forums: What’s Up With The Dupes?

Recently on the Market Motive forum a student asked a question regarding duplicate content and the pair of e-commerce websites she’s working on. Website #1 is a general site that sells all of the products in her inventory. Website #2 is a specialist website selling only about a third of her products.

As you might expect, she’s concerned there’s an issue of duplicate content since all the product pages of website #2 appear on site #1. (Note: The layout of the pages are different, including the brand at the top of the page, but otherwise they’re identical.)

Website #1 has a Moz domain authority of 35 while #2 comes in at 22.

What is the best way for our student to deal with this tricky situation?

Should she:

  • Use robots.txt or a meta robots tag for the whole of Website #2, assuming this wouldn’t be good because the link juice from Website #2 would be wasted?
  • Apply a rel=canonical directive making Website #1 the canonical version, thinking this would be better as it would preserve the link juice of website #2?
  • Do nothing?

The short answer is that this definitely sounds like a situation of duplicate content. There’s a lot of moving parts with two unique companies having two different (but very similar) sites.

She is taking the right approach in considering a redirect or robots exclusion protocol block, but it would definitely require addition knowledge of the site and situation. We certainly don’t want to block or redirect if there is strong organic performance on both sites. It would be surprising if both were doing well, so one can start to see why this approach is valid.

Ideally, redirect one into the other to retain the link equity and authority of the lesser trafficked site and consolidate both. There are, however, plenty of situations where two sites might be valid.

The practice of blocking with robots.txt and redirecting with 301 redirects are best practices that are great solutions, but website problems never exist in a vacuum.

If website #2 isn’t receiving organic traffic, redirecting and consolidating it is probably the best solution with the assumption that there aren’t other business reasons to have the second duplicate content website.

When there are two websites, it creates the added difficulty of needing to do link building for both. Overall it’s easier to operate just one unless there is a good reason to do so otherwise.

One last thing to note: While this is a somewhat generic example, it demonstrates the importance of individual case level details to develop a proper strategy.

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