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Top Level Domain Confusion
Posted 17 August 2004 - 08:35 AM
I have a question for anyone who'd like to answer.
If we have the same site on www.oursite.com and www.oursite.co.uk, will the SEs see these as two separate sites with duplicate content? If so, how can we avoid our rankings being diluted between the two?
Posted 17 August 2004 - 09:04 AM
If you are concerned, you can do a permanent 301-redirect from one site to the other.
The main thing to understand is that you will not have both domains in the search engines because again, you have ONE site. The engines will simply choose the domain name that they feel is the "real" one. This is usually the one that is linked to by other sites.
Posted 17 August 2004 - 11:38 AM
Whether you choose the .com or the .co.uk domain as your primary domain also has other implications.
For instance, if you want to appear in the 'UK pages only' filter on Google, then you're best having a .co.uk domain hosted on a UK IP address with the .com domain 301-redirected to the .co.uk domain. Your .co.uk site will also appear in the global search too.
Posted 19 August 2004 - 02:41 AM
The problem is that ".com" is part of our brand (which means it's what other sites link to). Until recently we only had a .co.uk security certificate and just had loads of absoulte links to the .co.uk domain - so regardless of which domain you came in on, you'd be on .co.uk by the time you addded anything to your cart, proceeded to checkout, etc - and most people's bookmarks will be .co.uk.
However, this strategy is causing problems with testing on our dev site, with our source protection system and also with our web stats.
We're just purchasing the .com certificate (it has to be a different site on a different IP for each certificate). Ideally i'd like to be able to remove all the absolute links and let people browse and order securely on which ever domain they came in on - but if this means having two separate sites/ IPs then I'm concerned about SEs seeing two sites with duplicate content. Is this a valid concern?
It sounds like I'll have to run two sites for a few weeks - to get the .com certificate while retaining a secure .co.uk site (and waiting for existing email offers that link to .co.uk to expire) then do a server level redirect from .co.uk to .com. Does this sound like the best strategy to you?
If so, I have more questions... but I'll let you all wake up again first after boring you to
Posted 19 August 2004 - 02:54 AM
Posted 19 August 2004 - 07:34 AM
Currently, all our inbound links are to .com.
Once we have a secure cert for .com I'd be happy to phase out our emails that link to .co.uk and eventually 301 .co.uk to .com. It didn't occur to me that if I have two identical sites they could have different robots.txt files - doh!
I think we'll still come up just as high in a 'just sites from the UK' search as we're hosting from the UK - correct me if I'm wrong.
As an aside, is a 301 better than writing an ASP file to redirect people (i.e. bookmarkers) to the appropriate page on .com? Doesn't a 301 just dump visitors to your homepage? Or is a 301 prefered by the SEs?
Posted 19 August 2004 - 09:28 AM
The beauty of the more complex is that spiders etc will index the new pages from the old url's, they will also know that they are permanent changes (that is what 301 means, permanently moved) so the old pages will be dropped quicker. Google will also move all the backlinks from the old domain to the new domain, as it understands a 301 means permanent. (This normally happens after an update or two though). Yahoo! on the other hand might well throw an epileptic fit when it finds your 301 or it might behave just like Google. Generally if you go for a more complicated 301 Yahoo! will opt for the fit.
A 301 is a recognised industry method of controlling domains on the web. By sticking to this method, you are ensuring that there will be no confusion later on. If you use refresh, then you run the possibility of being caught in a spam trawl, why take the risk?
If your site is hosted in the UK (which it currently is not) http://www.digitalpo.....getstore.com/ then the only thing you need to do is let google know via the geo notify system and they will put you right. But if you insist on having the .com with your site hosted in the US, you are walking a tightrope.
Just for the record, and it may sound a little mad, the place where your actual server is sitting is not necessarily the same country that it is physically located. Many UK hosting companies buy hosting from US companies, manily because it is cheaper. Although the uk hosting company is in the uk, and indeed the servers may also be in the UK, the IP owners are in the US, and in so far as the web is concerned, it is where the IP block resolves that matters, not where the server is actually placed in the world.
Most hosting companies are not aware of this, they have absolutely no idea, and when you ask them where the physical location is, they will tell you where the servers are located. Not the same, (as you can see above).
Posted 19 August 2004 - 11:02 AM
Bear in mind that choosing a .com address could also have implications for whether you appear in the 'UK pages only' on the other major SEs too.
Granted, a good 50%+ of your traffic will probably come from Google, but you'll need to take into account how Yahoo and (when it arrives) the new MSN treat the 'UK pages only' issue too.
I have a sneaking suspicion that one of them requires a .co.uk tld to qualify, but I think OWG may have some further insight on this (ie. Yahoo and MSN) so, if you're tuned in OWG...
Posted 20 August 2004 - 04:36 AM
I'm running for technical support - back in a bit!
Posted 20 August 2004 - 05:19 AM
So does anyone know for sure how each of the big three determine a UK site?
I've never seen them publish anything to clear it up.
If one requires UK TLD and the other requires UK hosting, then I think I'm a bit stuck... surely other businesses will be in the same sticky situation...
Posted 20 August 2004 - 05:38 AM
Posted 20 August 2004 - 06:59 AM
I'm afraid you're a bit stuck!
Even if the majors will index your .com in their UK databases (such as Google) because it looks for DNS location (the others do not) - AOL UK (currently) which uses the Google DB still filters out non .co.uk sites when the UK sites only filter is applied.
Yahoo search uses the TLD as a marker to provide a boost in the results in the country to which they apply - so on Yahoo.com a .com will do better than a .co.uk (provided other things are equal) but on Yahoo.co.uk a .co.uk site will do better. Same with the current MSN (which uses the Yahoo DB) and suggestions from usually reliable sources hint that MSN's new search is going to do the same thing.
There are ways around this (by getting lots of UK sites to link to a .com for Yahoo to re-identify location - for example) - but bottom line is that if you want to get uninterrupted coverage in the UK on all search engines (even Wanadoo filters out non .uk sites on UK searches - after the Overture listings - and these already have the Yahoo bias in place) you need a .co.uk.
Been like this for years - and looks like it will continue.
Fact is that a .com is great for branding but more and more UK surfers seem to like to find UK sites. A .co.uk gives no room for confusion.
Posted 20 August 2004 - 07:14 AM
I've not researched this kind of stuff much simply because I don't have to deal with it, thank goodness. A question for OWG and the other geo-targeting experts...
Would it make a difference if the NameServers are US hosted? It's the first thing that jumped out at me when I looked at this one. The IP number that the domain is setting on tracks back to NTLI. All three nameserver IP's though trace back to a US location though.
Could that have any bearing?
Posted 20 August 2004 - 11:07 AM
Unfortunately, we can't change the brand - and can't do anything to risk losing US exposure at this stage - so I guess we'll just have to 301 to .com and 'take the hit' on UK only searches. It's a shame...
At least Google should put us in UK searches - our IP address resolves to the UK.
Have a great weekend
PS. Does anyone have any stats on how many people in the UK perform UK only searches vs global on the major SEs? How many people in the UK still search on SE.com?
Posted 20 August 2004 - 11:34 AM
I'm not aware of any stats being available. Probably the closest you'll get is your web stats which will differentiate the referrer - eg. google.com and google.co.uk
But it's a bit more complicated than that, because UK searchers have 3 options:
1. They search on google.com and hence use the global database.
2. They search on google.co.uk, but use the default global database search.
3. They search on google.co.uk, but click on the 'pages from the UK' button and hence get the UK results.
I don't know what the ratios are between the 3 searches, but I can tell you that anecdotal evidence shows that the volume of UK-only users (No.3) is growing. And, with the trend being towards localisation of search, it will probably continue to do so.
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