I was helping someone out today in an online forum pertaining to domain-mapping for WordPress multi-site networks. Over the course of the conversation, it was revealed the the developer was looking for a solution where he could simply set up a second web site under a WP multi-site network, and then publish the exact same content from one into the other, but under another, similarly sounding URL. His goal was to make it simple to publish to two blogs simultaneously (which you can do, by the way) in order to up the Google page rank, so both sites would rank high in search. Good in theory, bad in practice.
First, this is an often tried and well known “black hat” SEO trick; publishing two sites under two URLs with the same content. What? Do you think Google was born yesterday? Well, maybe they were, lol. They’re not all that old, but they certainly aren’t stupid. Google figured this one out long ago. Let’s think about this. It’s common sense. Why would two sites with the exact same content under different URL’s be weighted separately by Google (or Bing, let’s not leave them out)? Google is going to spider both sites, look at the content, and then penalize both for trying to game the system. They’ve already penalized many sites for publishing stock content on massive site farms that were trying to dominate the rankings by publishing generic how-to guides and tutorials. What makes you think they can’t see what you’re trying to do?
If you’re trying to game the system, stop! It’s not going to work. Google looks at content, matches it, and then ranks it. If the same press release is published across one hundred web sites, only the sites that do more, like put the press release around other relevant information about a company are going to rank. I gave an example of Yahoo! Finance. They publish corporate press releases under a company’s financials in their database. The collective sum of all the information that Yahoo! Finance provides on a company, including press releases that are duplicated across the web on other sites of similar ilk, is still going to be the trigger that helps Google rank them higher, because they are the authoritative voice on the company. If you publish just the press release, but nothing else about the company, then why should Google rank you above Yahoo! Finance? They shouldn’t. You’re not the authority, you’re just trying to get some traffic to your press release farm and generate remnant banner ad revenue or click through revenue. And, to advertisers, they don’t want to be on sites that aren’t the authoritative voice. Well, some don’t, while others don’t care. But I’m betting the farm that if I’m an advertiser, I don’t want to be on a site that is trying to game the system. I want to be on the authoritative resource for that subject.
Google is working hard to deliver search results based on authenticity, authority, timeliness, and other factors like maintenance and updating of the content over time. Every time someone tries to game the system to profit from it, Google will figure it out and you will get penalized. That can mean a death knell for certain companies who try and do this. If you’re number 11 and you want to be number 4, there’s a reason for that, which you have to work hard to overcome. If you try and game the system so that you go from 11 to 4 overnight, remember, you have to work even harder to stay there. Once you’re found out, you can quickly go to number 400. Is it worth the risk? Probably not. I’m happy to be at number 11 and move up incrementally, then try to force a higher ranking and suffer the wrath of the Google search algorithm.
If you’re thinking about taking a chance, don’t. Google (and Bing), can see you. It’s not like the days where you hid from your teacher in the school yard and he or she couldn’t find you. Once you publish online, your stuff is in the ecosystem. It can be seen, searched, and catalogued. It’s just a matter of time before you’re tricks are uncovered and you’re penalized for it. It’s not worth the risk. For more information on Search Engine Optimization, check out http://searchengineland.com/ or http://searchenginewatch.com/