I do freelance webdesign and usually just work with smaller, local mom and pop shops. However, I have a new client that wants to hire me to do a website not only for their main shop, but for regional and possibly national as well.
The structure will (may?) look something like this.
The company sells green widgets, among other types, but really wants to focus on their green widgets. So the main shop in the region wants this:
1.) metropolisgreenwidgets.com - 15 or so pages, good original content, etc.
Now, they also want people who are in the suburbs to find them easily when googling, and want to also purchase other domain names and redirect them to the main one. So:
easthavengreenwidgets.com and westhavengreenwidgets.com and northhavengreenwidgets.com will all have 301 redirects to metropolisgreenwidgets.com.
Will doing that cause a problem with duplicate content????
2.) Then, they want me to build a site for the other shops in the region (other cities) - these are shops in other cities, some even in other states, and these sites will each be unique in address information and *some* content - i.e., the shop in greenville will have different contact info, and a completely different image gallery (the widgets they sell are custom service related) BUT will use the same basic *model* as the original site. So:
differentcitynamegreenwidgets.com will "look" (will use the same theme, etc.) like the original metropolisgreenwidgets.com, and may share some of the same content (some shared product information, etc) but will have slightly different content in regards to about us, contact, very customized image gallery representation of their custom work, etc.... The company wants each city's site to retain the brand look, but be customized for that particular city. So then we'll end up with:
metropolisgreenwidgets.com - first, original site
----->easthavengreenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above
----->northavengreenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above
differentcity2namegreenwidgets.com - separate site, but hosted on same server
----->suburbofdifferentcity2greenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above
----->anothersuburbofdifferentcity2greenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above
differentcity3namegreenwidgets.com - separate site, but hosted on same server
----->suburbofdifferentcity3greenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above
----->anothersuburbofdifferentcity3greenwidgets.com - redirect 301 to above
What is the best approach here? Do I set up each city as it's own unique site (also I'll be using wordpress) - which is what they REALLY want, or would it be better (from SEO standpoint) to set up greenwidgets.com and then subdirectories off the main site (using WPMU) for each city (but then would that muck up waters when redirecting different suburb based keyword domain names to them each)???
I think they want each city to be it's own site because each city will be responsible for their unique site and will be paying for their site individually (not billing one central office, but each site controls their own destiny to some extent). Like a franchise, only not really a franchise, if that makes any sense ;-)
It's a great account - I get to create quite a few sites, use a base model for all, but customize each, good recurring income, and none of that is difficult - but how to structure these and not have issues with some duplicate content, etc., is troubling me. Any advice is appreciated!
If you're wanting to rank for local searches (which is what it sounds like), I'd set them up as separate sites on separate domains, and probably even on separate IPs (different sub-nets would be ideal). This is the approach I've always taken with such situations. It sounds like they'd be fine with having a different hosting account for each site too, which would make it even easier.
1) If you have 301 redirects on the additional domains, the only effect would be to pass on (most of) the link/PageRank value of these secondary domains to the primary domain. There would be no duplicate content issue because there would be no content in the index from the secondary domains because of the 301 redirect. The secondary domains would essentially be invisible. All in all, setting up multiple domain names for a single website is generally a waste of time and money unless there are potential competitors who would want those other domains or you want to capture potential misspellings of the primary domain name.
2) The key to success here is to make all of the websites as unique as possible. Do not have cross links among them unless you make the common ownership clear in the domain registration data - in which case you need to keep the cross linking very limited. If you try to fool the search engines and you're discovered, you risk the position of the original domain as well as the add-ons.
In my own understanding, although you have multiple Domains/Sites/SEO/Structures the important thing is the uniqueness and its quality for the betterment of your business. However, its better to have one so that your attention is completely focus on it. It is more possible that you will be a progressive enough by simply focusing on a single matter.I hope this will help you to make a good decision.