Gini Dietrich

Manage Content, Social Media, and SEO without Duplication

By: Gini Dietrich | January 22, 2013 | 

We have an interesting client challenge.

They have six different websites and, of course, want increased search rankings and content, including a blog, for each.

But the audiences are the same for each. The only reason there are so many is because of different state laws that require it.

Not only that, but the keywords are the same, the topics are the same, and the content is the same.

We don’t want to cannibalize the other sites, so you can see our challenge.

To Share or Not to Share?

In my mind, I knew what we should do from a content perspective (they have a search engine optimization expert on staff), but I wanted some advice from other experts.

I turned to Andy Crestodina.

I wanted to know if there was any way to cross-promote content without it hurting search rankings. I know we can’t just run the same content on each site, but wasn’t sure if I was missing some other way to make it work.

Content for six different sites on the same topic is not only extremely difficult to do, it would be very expensive for the client.

Andy agreed with me – there are too many sites and we most certainly cannot use duplicate content.

The Expert Says!

Here’s what he said,

The biggest single factor in how high a site ranks is it’s “authority,” which is another way of saying link popularity. This authority is per domain, so it’s almost always best to not build separate websites. Separate websites mean separate domain authority.

If you have two sites and someone links to one of them, the other site doesn’t benefit from the link. You’ve diluted your efforts. It’s better to have one site that ranks on page one than two sites that rank on page two!

He also recommended the following:

  • Make one site! Make it awesome.
  • For each topic, make one section. Make it awesome.
  • For each keyphrase, make one page. Make it awesome.

The Solution

For reasons outlined above, we can’t make them one site (though I really, really wish we could), but we are recommending only one blog that will be housed on the main site. In some cases, the blog content will link to the other sites, but that’s as close as we’ll get to “sharing” content.

For each topic, we’ll have sections (and categories to help us organize both for humans and robots) and for each keyword or phrase, we’ll create pages to highlight them.

Then we’ll take it the next step and make sure Google sees that content is being shared. After all, they love fresh, new content first, then social shares to that content, and then all the optimization and backend magic.

That does mean some of the state-mandated sites will miss out on the rankings, but we think this is the best (and most cost-effective) way to go about it.

If you’re struggling with different sites and content and audiences and goals, check out, “Separate Website or Separate Section?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I feel your pain. I have one client with two websites and a separate blog (all of which will be changing once I get done with them) and another with a website and separate blog (but wanting a blog on his own site different from the separate blog).
    I’m all about streamlining. I pity your client, and you, for a situation you can’t control because of state laws. Stupid laws.

    • @KenMueller So they have two blogs and they’re contributing content to both? I love to write (and to blog), but that makes my head hurt.

  • Heavily-regulated industries do make it tricky, don’t they?  
    On a personal note, I’ve toyed with the idea of housing the podcast on its own site (with some co-branding, of course), but the traffic bleed might not be worth it.

    • crestodina

      @jasonkonopinski Interesting. This reminds me of another benefit of keeping things together: usability and conversion optimization. If you have two sites, it’s harder to cross-promote content. The path from reader/listener to subscriber/lead might be much longer. Shorter paths (without the friction of jumping between domains) is a good thing for conversions…
      Someday you should give me 15 minutes with your Analytics. I’d bet you a beer there’s low hanging fruit in there.

    • @jasonkonopinski Because Inside PR is three of us, it has its own website, but the new Spin Sucks we’re working on will bring the audio into a player right here, which means we’ll gain the benefit of listeners.

      • @ginidietrich I’m thinking that’s the way for me to go as well. Need a much slicker player with a smaller visual footprint.

        • @jasonkonopinski If you like what we’ve created, I’ll give you the goods.

        • I want the goods, too.  I want it all.

        • @TonyBennett Pay me.

        • @ginidietrich one day I’m gonna be so big time you’ll want to give it to me 🙂

  • Allyson Cohen Shoshana

    We have several Clients with similar issues. Great idea to have one main site with several umbrella sites (as it were) but to establish authority and links to the main site. Thus far, that’s the only way we’ve thought to solve the issue. If you run in to other ideas, Design Spike would love to hear ’em.

  • @ginidietrich we’re experiencing a VERY similar issue with a prospective client.  They have multiple sites (not due to legal reasons, but because they were doing some black hat SEO), and they were hit HARD by 2012’s Google Algorithm changes.  We’re advising them to merge everything in to one site (and make it awesome :).)   Thank you for the timely post!

  • PattiRoseKnight

    I would think more than one website would also be double the work.  If you devote your time to one website you can make it the best without being distracted with other websites.  That’s my two cents.

    • crestodina

      @PattiRoseKnight This is absolutely true. Double the work to maintain, and double the time and cost to create. Doesn’t make sense unless it’s really a completely separate concept…

  • I have a prospect who has much the same conundrum… so, crestodina I have a question: what if the topics are not exactly the same, but somewhat related? And the prospect owns the domains for all three, but at the end of the day, all three sites (companies) offer complementary services… so related, but not exactly the same. What would you recommend both for the sites as well as a blog?

    • @Shonali  Read this: If you answer yes to both questions, he recommends different sites. If you answer no to one and yes to the other, he recommends the same site, different sections.

      • @ginidietrich Thanks!

      • @ginidietrich  @Shonali Thanks for posting Andy’s link, i’ve had the problem before. Turns out my advice was right, and now I know why!

  • Some sort of hub with spokes sounds like it might the way to go.

    • @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Like a bicycle wheel?!?

      • @ginidietrich  @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Just like that.

  • This should also be a lesson with companies who still function in silos. One of the accounts I oversee involves a client whose company is so silo-ed (is that a word?), different practice areas don’t have clear understanding of what the others do. This is a huge problem on the marketing end, when the CEO wants to encourage internal cross selling. I’m currently exploring options to create some-type of internal information hub that will raise awareness throughout all practice areas. This will definitely help my argument. The client is going to love the term “authority.” haha Great post Gini.

    • @stevenmcoyle Ohhhh. That sounds really interesting! I like where you’re going with it.

  • Gini Dietrich

    That’s what we’re recommending for this particular client, Allyson. We haven’t found a better/different way…yet.

  • I love being surrounded by genius. Excellent work all around @ginidietrich @crestodina

    • @kateupdates  You want to see genius? You should have dinner with @crestodina

      • crestodina

        @ginidietrich  @kateupdates You guys are so sweet! Dinner on me anytime.

  • @ginidietrich ,
    The sites have to be completely different?  Could you use sub-domains or some sort of deliniated tagging or categorization through archives that gives each Category area a different feel based on the state but ultimately keep the authority with the same domain?
    Obviously I don’t know the rules for the Industry you’re working with but it would seem like there’d have to be a creative solution to keep max authority.

    • @Ryan Hanley Yeah…they do. It’s kind of a pain. Otherwise we’d recommend we redirect to the main site and have sections for each there.

  • kamichat

    Can you also use the RSS feed to feed fresh “content” from the blog in the form of a headline and blurb? This would also dive traffic back to the main page.

    • @kamichat THAT is an interesting idea. I hadn’t considered it. You think it’ll work?

      • kamichat

        @ginidietrich Yes, I do. You make one main site with the satellite sites to meet regulatory requirement and optimized for the statewide words. So, in practice you are putting all the effort into the main site, SEO, everything, and the sattellite sites serve to meet requirements and as a platform to curate the content from the main site that is relevant. You can even use category RSS feeds, if you need to parse it.

  • Great advice. Turn the other sites into lead capture, communities, customer support/knowledge base. I love @kamichat’s idea of satellite sites. Even if each site addressed secondary keywords, it’s too much work for too little return.

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  • scottclark

    I have been doing Franchise System SEO for many years – first client in 1998.  We are faced with this problem on a grand scale… 200, 300 sometimes 1000 locations all wanting to rank in local search for the same phrases.  Yet we must find a scalable solution that preserves the brand’s integrity.   Usually when I first do the audit for a system, they are being demolished by duplicate content and suffering due to online marketing literacy at the branch level.  On the SEO side, I see no structured markup, no canonical links to a main sitemap….and everything else….basically a fiasco. The search and social ecosystems do not help .  There are few child/parent relation managers online, meaning that you either have to control the system centrally or let the branch offices “have at it.  I’d welcome debate/input and such on this post which attempts to describe the “ideal multi location franchise” in 2013…

  • The proper way to deal with this really and truly depends on the competitiveness of the market. Andy raised this at our 312 Digital class on Tuesday and prompted me to start crafting a response to this post and his statement while presenting. I agree with the principle he set forth above and during our class. But there are always exceptions to the rule,
    If you operate in a relatively uncompetitive space, then operating a separate blog may, in fact, be a BETTER way to go.
    In my case, within a year of launching our separate blog, we had between 2 and 4 of the top 10 listings for every one of our top 100 phrases. No exceptions. None.
    Now, could we have had 100 #1’s instead of 4 from #4 o #10? Maybe. Would we have benefited more by going that route? I’ll have to ask Olivia from Fringe to take me to that alternate universe to find out. We’ll never know.
    Again, I would argue “it depends.”

    • crestodina

      @Sean McGinnis You mention a tactic that few non-SEOs ever think about: owning more than one listing on page one. Yes, in your example, you do have the opportunity to dominate. It takes more domains and more content (read: more time and more cost) but the upside could be huge. 
      Good call, Sean. If you write anything on this one, I want to read it.

  • Interesting because I may be faced with this situation soon. I have my own blog where the content centers on social media and leadership. Our corporate blog would cover everything from social media and leadership to our core offerings of software development, testing, project management, business analysis, etc. So a lot of original content on both sites, but I’d like to share my blog’s content on the corporate site to just add to the consistent publishing schedule and meet the needs of a different audience.
    Duplicate? Somehow embed? These are two entirely separate domains.

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  • seobysuhail

    Very interesting !  The more harder the more loved by experts !