March 25th, 2010
I was just on the phone with GoDaddy back-ordering a domain name for one of my clients when I got into an interesting conversation with the rep. As anyone who has experience with GoDaddy knows, the tech people are really tech-sales people. They try to up-sell you on anything they possibly can.
In this last call, I almost got off the phone without my rep offering to upgrade me when immediately she interjected that it would be a good idea to buy several domain names related to the domain of my client. (“Close, but no cigar” I thought, “I’ll entertain this one though.”) She wasn’t recommending domains that were spelled similarly or sound similar to the domain in question. She was suggesting very different domain names and explained that this would help promote the primary site. Immediately I asked her, “wouldn’t this hurt the natural ranking of the site?” I wanted to see what she would say and what angle GoDaddy is training their sales people to use. She said that it would be an alias domain and that it’s perfectly safe. She told me to”… look it up.” I challenged her by asking, “Isn’t it bad to have multiple domains with the same content?” She responded by saying that as long as the site uses its own files, it is safe. She then said, “There’s a quick way to copy the folder structure for the primary site so that the new alias domain can have its own folder and not share the same folder as the primary domain.” I told the rep “That still duplicating content…” and, “Thank you, but I am not interested.” I didn’t want to go into detail with her as to why that wouldn’t help but rather hurt my client. Instead, I’ll take the time to explain it to my readers!
The problem with the GoDaddy rep’s logic is that regardless of the file names, hosting companies, etc., Google only looks at the content displayed by the domain. It only sees what your browser displays; it can’t access your hosting server to look at the PHP file names and Database entries. Google isn’t an all knowing search engine god, it just knows what you display. If you display the same exact content on one domain as you do on another, you risk being demoted or blacklisting your site from Google. It isn’t guaranteed that you’ll be penalized, but I wouldn’t want to risk my client’s domain from being blacklisted and excluded from Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). I’d have a lot of explaining to do then.
Google’s goal is to provide its audience with unique and original content for every link it displays in the SERPs. This is what their algorithm is all about and that’s why Blog sites get promoted when they continue to write about their niche. If a business thinks in terms of presenting unique content and valuable information without duplicating it all over the internet, then they will eventually be rewarded for it.
The GoDaddy rep did mention a term that I recently spoke to another business about this week: “Alias domain names”. This business had recently hired an SEO in New York (not someone on the islands who you can talk to face-to-face) to optimize their website after the previous web designer left out all the goodies to help the website get ranked. The business owner noticed that they ranked first for their domain name, but not at all for the key words they really wanted to target. Naturally, the business owner thought that if he buys other domain names with more relevant key words in the domain name, he would rank first for those key words. So, he bought several domain names and e-mailed me before he set them up. He asked, “Should I park these domains or redirect to my site?”
My answer was in two parts because it was a confusing questions at first. Parking is associating the alias domain name with the hosted content of another primary domain. Redirecting is automatically moving the user to the primary domain when they land on the alias domain. Essentially, these two strategies are the same to users viewing through a browser or to the Google bots crawling your site. In both cases, it looks like you are duplicating your site on another domain which is a no-no.
My suggestion was to focus on the primary site and to “…promote the hell out of it.” I suggested that if he didn’t want to waste the domain names, that he can setup new sites and create unique content for each domain. However, this would take resources away from promoting the primary site and wouldn’t really solve the initial problem of getting the primary site ranked for more relevant keywords. Lastly, I explained that there is one form of redirecting which is acceptable by Google and that is a 301 redirect. The 301 redirect is a type of redirect that tells Google that the initial page (found on the alias domain) has been permanently moved to the new site (primary domain) and to not index or store the information on the initial page (alias domain). Typically, this technique is used if you have renamed your company and want traffic from your old domain to go to your new site. Also, this strategy can be used for mistyped domains or domains that sound similar to your primary domain. You want to buy those domains so if someone mistypes or spells the wrong word while typing in your domain, then the traffic doesn’t go to a squatter. Damn Squatters, I hate them!
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