Q and A: Do regional domains constitute a duplicate content problem?

QuestionDear Kalena…

First of all I find the info on your site extremely useful –  I always look forward towards the newletter! I have been trying to find the time to do the SEO course but finding the time is always a problem! However, its still on my to do list.

I am trying to sort out a problem regarding duplicate content on my sites. We run local sites for each language/country we trade in (e.g. .fr for France and .co.uk for England). Unfortunately whilst growing the business I never had time to research SEO optimisation practices so I ended up with a lot of sites with the same duplicate content in them including title tags, descriptions etc. I had no idea how bad this was of course for organic ranking!

I have now created unique title tags and description for ALL the pages on ALL the sites. I have also changed the content into unique content for the home page and the paternity testing page (our main pages) for each site in English. The only site with complete unique content pages is .com and parts of .co.uk. For the rest of the pages that still have double content I have also put a NO INDEX, FOLLOW code on the pages that have duplicate content so that the spiders will not index the duplicate content pages. I did a FOLLOW as opposed to NO FOLLOW as I still want the internal links in the pages to be picked up – does this make sense ?

Also having made such changes how long does it normally take for Google to refresh its filters and starting ranking the site? The changes are now about a month old however the site is still not ranking.

Also should this not work – do you have any experience with submitting a re-consideration through the webmaster tools? What are the upside and downside of this?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Kevin

Thanks for your coffee donation and I’m glad you like the newsletter. Now, about your tricky problem:

1) First up, take a chill pill. There’s no need to lodge a reinclusion request to Google. According to Google’s Site Status Tool, your main site is being indexed and hasn’t been removed from their datacenter results. A standard indexed page lookup shows 32 pages from your .com site have been indexed by Google, while a backward link lookup reveals at least 77 other sites are linking to yours. If you’ve put NoIndex tags on any dupe pages, you’ve covered yourself.

2) Next, pour yourself a drink and put your feet up. Your .fr site is also being indexed by Google, but there isn’t a dupe content issue because the site is in French, meaning that Googlebot sees the content as being completely different. Your .co.uk site is also being indexed by Google and again, there isn’t a dupe content issue because it looks like you have changed the content enough to ensure it doesn’t trip any duplicate content filters.

3) Now you’re relaxed, login to Google Webmaster Tools and make sure each of your domains are set to their appropriate regional search markets. To do this, click on each domain in turn and choose “Set Geographic Target” from the Tools menu. Your regional domains should already be associated with their geographic locations i.e. .co.uk should already be associated with the UK, meaning that Google will automatically be giving preference to your site in the SERPs shown to searchers in the UK. For your .com site, you can choose whether to associate it with the United States only (recommended as it is your main market), or not to use a regional association at all.

4) Now it’s time to do a little SEO clean up job on your HTML code. Fire or unfriend whoever told you to include all these unecessary META tags in your code:

  • Abstract
  • Rating
  • Author
  • Country
  • Distribution
  • Revisit-after

All these tags are un-supported by the major search engines and I really don’t know why programmers still insist on using them! All they do is clog up your code and contribute to excessive code bloat.

5) Finally, you need to start building up your site’s link popularity and boost your Google PageRank beyond the current 2 out of 10. And by link building, I mean the good old-fashioned type – seeking out quality sites in your industry and submitting your link request manually, NOT participating in free-for-all link schemes or buying text links on low quality link farms.

Good luck!

November Search Light newsletter: The “Where have you been?” edition

Search LightYep, we skipped a whole month without a newsletter (don’t ask!).

But our October edition is finally out, despite the fact that it’s November. It includes a summary of the latest feature of Google Webmaster Tools, some search FAQs, and an article about avoiding web site disasters.

If you’re not yet a subscriber (don’t get me started), catch it here.

Got what it takes to help iBizZilla with SEO?

iBizZilla logoI had a phone convo with Ken Hazelton of iBizZilla on the weekend and he’s fed up.

Ken has spent the past 4 years creating his online business and can’t seem to get any traffic or traction in Google. In fact, according to Google Analytics, the site is only receiving a measley 189 visits per month.

The site has a lot going for it – it’s a brokerage site for buying and selling businesses and the concept appears solid, with businesses ranked by cost, location and industry. It has an attractive design, but the site has never been optimized with search engines in mind.

Ken needs some guidance in terms of the following:

  • Keyword Research
  • Basic SEO
  • Link Building
  • Copywriting
  • Anchor Text
  • Search compatible design elements

Due to a ridiculous workload, I’m not currently taking on new SEO clients for at least 6 months. Ken can’t wait that long so he’s looking for an experienced SEO specialist or a recent graduate of Search Engine College to help him.

If you think you can help, please get in touch via his contact form.

Google is now giving out SEO advice

I covered this in more detail on my SiteProNews Blog, but thought it was worth mentioning here too.

Google is now giving out SEO advice by making their internal publication the SEO Starter Guide available to the general public. This is a world away from Google’s attitude to SEOs in the past, where they called us unethical scammers.

These days, Google acknowledges the work of SEOs in adding value to a web site by making it more search engine compatible. Their language for describing search engine optimization has softened considerably and now here they are, giving out SEO advice of their own. Who would have thunk it?