Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Starting a duplicate content test...

Canadian FlagThe Google Webmaster Central team made it very clear the other day that if you had two identical sites in the same language targeted at two different countries using different TLDs you'd be OK and wouldn't suffer from a duplicate content penalty. So, I'm setting up a test...

We've had slicksurface.ca for 5+ years now but because we were worried about duplicate content issues for the past few years we've simply done a 301 permanent redirect from all URLs on slicksurface.ca to slicksurface.com. I've just broken that and am going to let the sites stand on their own. The question is how long it will take for the slicksurface.ca URLs to outrank the slicksurface.com URLs in Canadian SERPs.

I've still got some work to make sure that the links in the "Canadian blog" aren't pointing at the "U.S. blog", and I'll need to automate something to grab the U.S. feed and rewrite it for Canada. Even once those things are done I expect it will take 6 months or more to see slicksurface.ca pages establish themselves. It will be interesting to watch...

The blog is an interesting case... There are two type of internal links: 1) the titles link to their respective articles (and label tags to their respective pages), and 2) there are links in the body of the post to other articles. The first case is fairly easy to deal with - I'll use base href and then relative URLs. The links in the body of the post are trickier. If I use relative URLs then if someone steals/scrapes the page/feed then the links will break and we won't get any benefit from their stealing the content. So full, absolute URLs are necessary. I guess I'll just flip flop between .ca and .com URLs so there's an even mix, but that means people on one site will wind up on the other site, but I don't know that they'll ever notice the difference...

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