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Doorways, Mirrors, and Duplicate Sites

By Jill Whalen
Posted Sunday, September 19, 2004

From: OnlineMarketingPro.com

Hello Jill,

My name is Jari Salmikivi, and as a new subscriber to your newsletter, I'd first of all like to say thanks for a very good newsletter! Your newsletter has quickly become one of the "I can't wait for the next issue" ones, and they aren't that many!

I'm writing you regarding your latest issue and the topic of doorway pages.

I planned on getting more exposure from search engines to my site and thought that making "duplicates" of my existing site, each site with a new unique URL and unique domain, unique title and description, and body text slightly rewritten to focus on different keywords, would be a good idea. I also planned on a new look with different background color and font.

Now I read your newsletter and see that you think it's a BIG no, no! Instead you suggest creating keyword-rich content pages for my main site.

My questions to you about this matter are:

1) Do you mean new pages or to rewrite the sales copy?

2) If you mean rewrite the sales copy, isn't it necessary that the keywords I want to focus on are in the page's Title and META Description? If I want to focus on say, 10 search phrases, the title and description would look pretty "crowded"!

3) I'd like to try to focus on different search phrases that are related to the terms "business opportunities," "make money online" etc.

I think it sounds very difficult to try to make, say 10, new keyword-rich content pages and make them blend in with my current site, since the search terms are so "general" if you know what I mean.

4) How about the companies that use affiliates and assign them with their own affiliate site to submit to search engines? Shouldn't a company or any other program that uses this method of marketing, be penalized and banned in that case?

And I know that people put up mirror sites to measure how small changes to their site affect sales. Isn't this allowed either?

Hope you can help me with my questions and once again, thanks for an excellent newsletter, looking forward to many more :)

Best regards,

Jari Salmikivi
OnlineMarketingPro.com

Jill's Response

Hi Jari,

Glad you enjoy the newsletter. Many people have been writing in lately to say that the Advisor is on their "must read" list, which is really cool!

As to your questions, they are very good ones and similar to others I received regarding last week's article on doorway pages. It seems that creating multiple sites and doorway pages has become so ingrained in many SEOs way of doing business that my "don't do it" approach is a tough pill to swallow for many people. However, I stick by everything I said because the more that the search engine databases get compromised by duplicate content, the more the engines will fight against it. I strongly urge all Web site owners to stop thinking only of their own search engine needs, and think about the search engines themselves. If SEOs as an industry refuse to work with the search engines and continue to subvert their databases, everyone will lose.

Google has done so well because of the high quality of their results. People like to search using Google because they know they will find what they're looking for each and every time. They simply cannot afford to have Webmasters and SEOs "ruining" their results because of their own selfish needs. Google couldn't care less whether your site is in the top ten of their results. They only care that people find what they're looking for quickly and easily, and they'll do whatever is in their power to ensure that this happens. If that means banning every site that is very similar in nature to an existing site, then that's what they'll do. Google (or any search engine where you haven't paid to be listed) doesn't owe anybody a listing. It's not a constitutional right. It's their database and they can do what they want with it. This means that they hold all the cards and everyone who would like to be listed must play by their rules.

With that in mind, I'll answer your questions one by one:

...you suggest that I create keyword-rich content pages for my main site.

1) Do you mean new pages or to rewrite the sales copy?

Either way. Whatever meets the needs of your site. If you've already got lots of copy, then yes, rewrite it to incorporate your couple of keyword phrases for that page. If you don't have much copy or many pages, then sure, create new pages and base the copy around your two or three keyword phrases targeted for that page. If you create new pages, they need to be integrated into your site as "regular" pages. They should not be stand-alone pages that are found only in the search engines. They need to be *visibly* linked within your site's navigation system.

2) If you mean rewrite the sales copy, isn't it necessary that the keywords I want to focus on are in the page's Title and META Description?

Yes, most definitely! When I discuss creating new keyword-rich copy, I never mean to imply that this is *all* you should do. Your copy is the first thing to do (after keyword research), but of course you still have to create Title and Meta tags to match. The key is to write the copy first, and *then* do the tags.

3) I'd like to try to focus on different search phrases that are related to the terms "business opportunities," "make money online" etc. I think it sounds very difficult to try to make, say 10, new keyword-rich content pages and make them blend in with my current site, since the search terms are so "general" if you know what I mean.

If it sounds difficult, it's because anything you do for the long term will be slightly difficult. Quick fixes are a thing of the past. Of course it's not easy to create a great site and a great set of pages. Greatness is never easily obtained and usually takes lots of time or money or both.

If you're having trouble working particular keyword phrases into your pages, then most likely you're targeting the wrong search terms for your site. "General" search terms will not convert your visitors into customers, and therefore you shouldn't target those. If you can't write about them so that they make sense, then they're not the right ones for your site.

Search engine optimization is not about grabbing the most traffic you can get for any keywords under the sun. SEO is about bringing highly targeted visitors to your site who are looking for *exactly* what you're offering. It's really a beautiful and wonderful thing. I can't think of any other form of marketing that can do this. People searching for your specific products or services are already qualified prospects. They're searching for something to learn more about it or to buy it. If you've got that certain something they're looking for, it's imperative that your site is the one they find in the search engine results. There's a big myth out there that says you should bring in customers looking for things that might be similar to what you have, and then convince them to try your product instead. That may work for other forms of advertising, but that's not what SEO is all about. Think highly targeted and think exact keyword phrases.

4) How about the companies that use affiliates and assign them with their own affiliate site to submit to search engines?

The search engines *hate* those types of sites. Companies with affiliate programs that do this kind of thing usually neglect to tell you this when you sign up with them. Read any search engine or directory FAQ and you'll see that they're not interested in those kinds of sites because they lack "substantive value." Try submitting one to Yahoo! and most likely you'll lose your $299.

And I know that people put up mirror sites to measure how small changes to their site affect sales. Isn't this allowed either?

No, mirror sites are highly frowned upon. You should use your regular site to test your marketing copy. You can also use pay-per-click (PPC) ad programs to test landing pages and sales copy. Plus, you can test site pages through many of the search engine pay-per-inclusion (PPI) programs since they pick up your new content fairly quickly.

I realize that this information is not what those with the "make money on the Net in two weeks" mentality want to hear. But the fact remains that the search engines are moving away from allowing any kinds of tricks whatsoever. As I stated last week, yes, you'll still see plenty of sites that get away with tricks; however, at least where Google is concerned, you'll be seeing it much less often in the future. If the other engines want a shot at keeping up with Google, they'll be smart to crack down also. This is a GOOD thing for everyone, in my opinion!

Multiple Domains to Protect a Trademark

Hi Jill,

I have a client who is absolutely obsessed with having her domain in every possible extension (i.e. .net, .com, .info etc.). She wants to protect her trademark. All the domains point to the same site content. Is she doing herself any harm with the search engines?

Thanks!

Lee Laughlin
Principal Fearless Media
(http://www.fearlessmedia.com)

Jill's Response

Hi Lee,

Now, this is a different scenario than a "doorway domain." There's absolutely no problem with having multiple domain names that are all parked at the same IP address. It's very common for the very reason you state. Plus there are others who like to promote one domain to the search engines, and use a different one on their business cards, stationery or print ads.

The search engines usually treat all the different domains as one site, and there should not be a penalty involved in having them. I personally have a number of domain names that I've purchased through the years just cuz I like 'em. They're all pointing to my main site, and it's never been a problem.

Jill

About the Author
Jill Whalen is the owner of HighRankings.com and moderator of the free weekly email newsletter, the High Rankings' Advisor. Jill specializes in search engine optimization, directory submissions, SEO consultations and workshops. She has obtained hundreds of number 1 and 2 spots for her vast array of clients throughout the years. Clients include multi-million dollar companies, major universities, real estate agencies, attorneys, surgeons, dentists, and small-medium sized businesses.