Q and A: Will Google penalize me for redirecting my old site to my new site with duplicate content?

QuestionHello Kalena

I have a current subdomain webpage that is ranking on page 12 on the Google SERP’s. I just bought a new domain name and created a new website with pretty much duplicate content so I could use that as my prime domain. What I did was re-direct my subdomain to the new prime URL.

My new site has been indexed, but not yet ranked by Google. I intend to delete the sub-domain page as soon as the new page starts appearing in the SERP’s. My question is, because of the duplicate content, is Google going to ban me for this?

Thanks,
Paul

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Hi Paul

Ah yes, the old hosted sub-domain ranking conundrum.

For the benefit of readers who might not understand your situation, here’s a brief explanation. Paul’s current website is free-hosted on a sub-domain provided by his hosting company. For example, instead of having his site at www.PaulsPlace.com, it’s currently at PaulsPlace.hostingplace.com. This means that any links pointing to his site contribute to the hosting site’s link popularity and not his own. It also means that he is helping his hosting company to rank better in search engines, rather than his own brand and content.

To avoid this, Paul has done the right thing and purchased his own domain name, transferring all his site content over to the new domain and then putting an automatic sign-post up on his current sub-domain site that redirects people to his new domain when they hit his old site or click on a link to his old site within search engine results.

Paul, provided you used a 301 redirect on your sub-domain, there shouldn’t be any problem at all with duplicate content. In fact, this is the recommended process to use, according to Google. Just don’t forget to remove the redirect (and dump your old site) once you see your pages start to appear in the search results. You can hurry this along by creating a XML sitemap for the new site and uploading it to Google via Webmaster Tools.

Hope this helps.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 36, 2014

fast-five

 

It’s that time of the week again – Fast Five time. I’m feeling quite smug that I’ve managed to consistently publish a Fast Five post every week this year to date. Blogging can be a time-consuming business, but when you follow a schedule and write about topics that educate and inform, it’s also very rewarding.

If you’re enjoying these Fast Five posts, I’d love to hear as much in the comments. Feel free to suggest some topics for future editions as well. This week, we’re going to take a look back at the five most popular Q and A posts on this blog since it was first launched.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) How much should I expect to pay for SEO services? by Peter Newsome. In this post from 2009, Pete helps a SEO start-up who are struggling to set realistic rates for their brand new SEO service offering.

2) How do I avoid duplicate content created by my CMS for product pages on my site? by Peter Newsome. Another post from guest blogger Pete sees him helping a webmaster who is concerned that his Content Management System may generate product pages that are so similar in content that they may be deemed duplicate content by search engines.

3) How do I leverage Social Media to improve my SEO? by Yours Truly. In this Q and A from 2012, I explain why social media has become an integral part of SEO and suggest several ways of integrating social media marketing into your existing SEO strategy.

4) How can I get rid of malicious spam content on Google? by Yours Truly. A Q and A from March this year saw someone contact me asking for help relating to malicious content being published about them. I gave advice on how to lodge a Request to Remove Objectionable Content.

and finally…

5) Why doesn’t Google index my sitemap? by Yours Truly. In one of my more recent Q and A’s, I help a webmaster who couldn’t understand why Google wasn’t indexing all his site pages, despite including them all in his sitemap.

If you’ve got a burning question about search or search engines and you want to see it featured here as a Q and A, submit it via this form.

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Q and A: Do I need to use rel=canonical to tell Google my preferred domain?

QuestionHello Kalena

I’ve been a reader of your blog for many years but have never submitted a question. Until now!

With Google’s recent changes to the algorithm, we have noticed a drop in traffic and rankings for our site (we sell ready-made crafting kits for kids). I suspect it might be related to duplicate content as I’ve been reading how Google will penalize sites that can be loaded with www and also without www. Our site loads for both addresses and I’m worried this means we have been penalized.

I also read that you can fix this issue by using coding called rel=canonical or something like that? I have looked into this briefly, but to be honest, although I’m responsible for the content of our site, I’m a sales and marketing person, not a programmer and I don’t think I have the coding knowledge to use this tool.

Is there a more simple way I can remove the duplicate pages or have our site load just with the www? Or will I need to pay our original web designers to fix this?

Thanks for any advice

Sally

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Hello Sally

Sorry to hear of your traffic drop, but I highly doubt it is due to your site loading for both www and non-www versions of your domain. The algorithm changes over the past 18 months have been related to more complex issues than domain versions.

Even if Google has indexed both versions of your domain, the algorithm is almost always able to distinguish content that loads on both as one and the same. In this situation, Google will usually choose one version and consistently show that version in the search results.

But if you want to instruct Google which version to use in the search results, you can do this from within your Webmaster Tools account by setting the Preferred Domain (sometimes this is referred to as the canonical domain). The Preferred Domain tool enables you to tell Google if you’d like URLs from your site crawled and indexed using the www version of the domain (http://www.example.com) or the non-www version of the domain (http://example.com).

Simply click on the gear icon at the top right when viewing your Webmaster Tools dashboard and then choose *Site Settings* and the Preferred Domain option will come up as per the image here:

Setting-Preferred-Domain-Screenshot
The recommended use of rel=canonical is on a page by page basis, to indicate to Google which version of a page URL to use, if there are several URLs leading to the same page content.

For example, imagine if these URLs all led to the same page content:

1) http://www.blog.com/blue-suede-shoes/
2) http://www.blog.com/blue-suede-shoes&id=72
3) http://www.blog.com/?p=12890

Now imagine that you only wanted 1) to be shown in Google search results. You could achieve this by adding the rel=canonical link element to the < head > tag of each of those pages, specifying http://www.blog.com/blue-suede-shoes/ as the preferred URL.

However, in your situation, the easiest thing would be to use the Preferred Domain tool in Webmaster Tools.

Hope this helps!

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Q and A: Can you recommend some global keyword research tools?

QuestionHi Kalena

I’d like your advice on keyword research please. I generally use the Google Keyword Tool to research keywords to use in our web site, but these are generally skewed to show just US results.

As the UK, Canada and Australia are also big target markets for us, we need to know what keywords people in each of those countries are searching for.

Can you recommend some global keyword generation tools and also suggest some unique keyword research ideas to help expand our keyword focus?

Thanks in advance

Michael

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Hi Michael

Keyword Research is a tricky business and if you target different geographic markets, you’ll understand why.

The search terms that your customers in the UK enter into search engines are often not the same search terms that your customers in the US use, even when looking for the same product!

So using keyword research tools that can provide search trends for different geographical markets can really help you to develop more effective SEO and other marketing campaigns that will appeal to each of your target markets. It’s fine to use the Google Keyword Planner, but remember that it is primarily designed for AdWords advertisers and shows data related to the advertising platform.

Here are some of the keyword research tools that I use most often and I’ve indicated below which ones provide geo-centric data:

  • Raven Tools  – Raven is always my first stop on the keyword research journey, simply because their Research Central interface combines data from Majestic SEO, Moz, Calais and Google AdWords in one easy to use tool. During the research process, you have the option of drilling down to country-specific data to compare local and global search trends from AdWords and even see what domains are currently your biggest competition for your target keywords.
  • Keyword Discovery  – This tool was built by Trellian, based out of Perth, Western Australia, so their data is definitely international in flavor. The interface is a little clunky to use, but once you get the hang of it, you can generate some impressive country-specific keyword data very quickly and export it in various formats, ready to populate your marketing campaigns.
  • Word Tracker  – Allows you to drill down to keyword search popularity in different countries. You can also buy stand-alone keyword reports of up to 100,000 keywords that are segmented by country to show keyword search history for the date ranges you select.
  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner  – The Keyword Planner has replaced the Google Keyword Tool and is a research tool designed to help AdWords advertisers build new campaigns or expanding existing ones. You can use the tool to search for keyword and ad group ideas, get historical statistics and see how a list of keywords might perform. The tool is useful for general keyword research, as long as you keep in mind that the data is skewed to show performance on AdWords, rather than organic search.
  • Google Trends – If you’re looking for a unique source of potential keywords to target, look no further than Google Trends. Google Trends analyzes a percentage of Google web searches to determine how many searches have been done for the terms you’ve entered compared to the total number of Google searches done during that time. You can use the tool to track the historical popularity of a particular keyword, phrase or topic and compare that performance across a range of countries or dates. It’s a marvellous way of narrowing down which search terms to target. For example, if you aren’t sure whether to focus on *cell phones* or *mobile phones* in your specific target market, you can conduct a search and Google Trends will show you which has been the more popular search term over time.
  • Keyword Eye – Another tool that takes a unique approach to keyword research, Keyword Eye uses a visual approach that adds a new twist to keyword brainstorming. You can use Keyword Eye to discover what keywords your competitors have a presence on within organic and paid search. This is done by analyzing the on-site keyword trends within the content of top ranking pages on Google and then displaying them in tag cloud format.
  • Soovle – This tool also uses a visual approach to keyword analysis, this time displaying a range of related keyword searches and word-stemming options relating to your original search term, sourced from a range of search engines and portals including Google, Yahoo, Bing, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Answers.
  • Ubersuggest – This free keyword tool can instantly suggest thousands of keyword ideas from actual user queries. Enter your original search term and use the resulting search queries to get more keyword inspiration.
  • iSpionage – A must-have for those of us in highly competitive markets, iSpionage allows you to see which domains are targeting your keywords and out-performing you in Google and Bing/Yahoo. You can drill down to US, UK or Canadian data and isolate both PPC and SEO keyword data.

Hope this helps!

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Q and A: What are some typical daily tasks of a SEO business?

QuestionHello Kalena

I have read a handful of your blog posts and LOVED THEM. I’ll get to the point. I was looking to see if you could write a post on daily tasks of an SEO business if you had ONE client (to keep it simple).

I have about 60 domains that I use to test SEO techniques, I own two businesses with I SEO myself, I attend many webinars, buy books etc to keep my SEO skills sharp. I pretty good with SEO and running a business.

My problem now is I’d like to run an SEO business but I don’t know what a client wants from me on a day today basis for results. Could you possibly email me or write a post about what I would do day-day for a client. Almost like a checklist. Of course I would have to do many other task that randomly come at me (problem solving).

My brain gets a little jumbled when it comes to organization. Since I’ve never run an SEO business yet, I have no idea what my days would look like. I have my web/graphic design business down perfectly!

I understand you are very busy but if you could give me a little boost I will definitely pay it forward.

Thank you!

Chris

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Hi Chris

You might be interested to know that our SEO Advanced course includes a whole bonus lesson dedicated to setting up your own SEO business, including recommended tools and checklists.

In the meantime, I actually wrote an article a couple of years ago that might help you. Although it might not be quite be written as the day in the life of a SEO, it IS written as a diary of typical SEO tasks that you need to perform over several weeks. It’s called The 10 Week SEO Diet and there is even a video version.

Hope this helps!

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