My company owns six subsidiaries, which all have essentially the same business model, but are organized by regions of the US. (Southeast, Midwest, etc.) Each company has its own, separate, website. We are in the midst of redesigning all of our sites, to have a similar look and feel, and to modernize them. So far, three new sites have launched. All three have essentially the same content, but are also clearly identified as being a regional company, each operating in different parts of the US.
The first site to launch is doing very well, with a slight uptick in overall traffic, and very favorable results as far as our other key metrics. The second site to launch had no baseline performance data to speak of, so I really don't know how well it's doing. But the third site to launch has experienced a huge drop in traffic (less than half the traffic the old version was getting).
That third site also used to rank very well for regional keywords, and is now virtually invisible. I've checked, and Google is indexing every page of the site. But, the rankings have plummeted, and we've lost more than half our monthly traffic!
My question is this: would Google consider these three sites to be duplicate content? The only major differences in the content (apart from pictures, graphics, etc.) is the local keywords - state and city names, addresses, phone numbers. Apart from that, they are essentially cookie-cutter sites. Is this considered duplicate content? And, is there some way to let the search engines know that these 6 websites/companies all fall under one corporate roof, and are only separate URLs because the brick-and-mortar facilities are scattered across the country?
As a side note, the new site which has lost half its traffic, also lost a large amount of traffic from a third-party PPC program, about two weeks before the new site launched. Is it possible that the failure of that PPC program indirectly caused the drop in overall traffic and rankings? I know Google does pay some attention to overall site performance...is it feasible that the loss of our PPC traffic could cause Google to assume our site is no longer as relevant?