Today I am meeting with a client to review the design and build of his new website. Quite frankly I’m not looking forward to this meeting. I am the barrier of bad news.
When I originally accepted this project, I could see Google had indexed about 1,000 pages within his domain. While it would take some time to migrate and optimize this many pages, I was up for the challenge. The goal is to give him a more SEO friendly site that he can maintain himself in WordPress. If that meant throwing in some plugins and optimizing 1,000 pages, so be it.
Last week I reviewed his Google Analytics reports, dug deeper into his content pages, and investigated his existing website’s structure. Through Google Analytics I could see he didn’t have 1,000 pages, he had about 10,000 pages. Why were they not showing up in Google’s index? Well I figured this out a bit later as I reviewed page by page content on his existing website. Of these 10,000 pages, about 3,000 or so are the exact same pages. Okay, three different pages, but applied to 1,000 different products. You may be asking yourself so what and thinking I am a drama queen. To me, the drama queen, all I saw was a big red flag waving with a large Google logo hovering overheard. This was trouble with a capital T.
These 3,000 plus pages represent duplicate content to Google. Why would Google cloud their index with 3,000 pages of the exact same content? Google won’t do it. It would simply corrode the overall search results, which would frustrate Google users, so Google is not going to do it. Google will also most likely penalize the overall site for this mass amount of duplicated content.
I have already told my client I will not migrate this duplicate content. The SEO consultant in me cannot do it, because I know it is wrong. The website designer in me won’t do it, because I know it will degrade the user experience as well. So I get to now explain this to my client and hope he understands that my intentions are good.
Now I will return to his website, his Google Analytics reports, and to the broken sitemaps to see what else lurks beneath the covers of this existing website. I believe my 3,000 pages of duplicate content is only the tip of the iceberg and I am afraid the Titanic is getting ready to go down.