Ben Wills from KeywordRanking asked the audience how many of their clients have 10 or more sites, most raised their hands. A particular client of his operated in multiple global locations. So they looked at the internal org structure, the opportunities and abilities are available with the systems currently in place, who will implement the changes and most importantly what are the marketing goals of the domain restructuring. They have three divisions; corp, govt, consumer. They are divided in five regions in the world, working in 50+ countries. Each region has their own marketing and technology departments responsible for each country's web site. And each region would promote different products to their region. they had 21 sites with their own domain name. 28 of those sites run as a subsection of client.com, (i.e. subdomain.client.com/dir/country/home.asp?var=val. 5 sites run as a subsection of a different subdomain. Some country sites redirect to another country's web site. They recommended to move each country subdomain web site to a country specific tld (i.e. co.uk). Improves rankings in country specific search engines. Improves branding of client's division to consumer. Improves URL memorization for "mental bookmarking". What about other businesses? Companies with/wanting company brand recognition, product.company.com i.e. msdn.microsoft.com. Companies with/wanting product brand recognition, product.com, i.e. aim.com. International business operations. company.countryTLD or product.company.countryTLD, ex. google.co.uk.
Bruce Clay from BruceClay.com explains that there is never a one size fits all solution here. Different Products Confusion: Mixing different themes confuse the search engines, content does not make sense to a person. He showed an example of mixing white marbles with black marbles, so you are no longer about only about white marbles anymore. Linking / Navigation Issues: Very easy to have excessive navigation making it confusing for the user and the engine. 100 domains, same whois, same IP, same anchor text, etc. Those are two big issues. He then gives his "Jeff Foxworthy" line; "you might be a redneck", simple put - it stands out.IP Funneling; multiiple domains pointing at the same content, using DNS to map the site will result in duplicate content penalty, instead use a feeder site to have multiple domains go to a single production site. Basically map your dns records to one of your parked domain names and then point that one via a 301 redirect to the main production site. He said he has a dental association as a client that builds sites for over 2,500 sites. They went through all the sites, changed all the whois info and the IP addresses. Now they rank very well, before they did not.
Michael Palka from Ask Jeeves put up an example of a site, he did not have a presentation, only on the board for the Q&A. He showed an example of www.seneca.newsiowa.com, he shows off the content, and clicks on an article. He then flips over www.napoleon.newsalabama.com, which has pretty much the exact same information. So the same news in Alabama and Iowa... And then pulls up www.islandton.newssouthcarolina.com, same news here as well. Michael said this is domain spam, and search engines hate it.
Q & A: Q: Why wouldn't you just filter out the rest of those domain names and put up the most relevant result? A: Michael said that in this case, this was done as domain spam. Some sites do it unintentionally, and in that case, they will keep the most relevant system.