Case: 2 websites for the same keyword set. Cross-site cannibalization / affiliation?

Doe

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Case: 2 websites for the same keyword set. Cross-site cannibalization / affiliation?


Hi there, I need your thoughts, guys.
I’ve got a client in the U.S. They have a metal recycling business and 2 websites.1st site is for the company that is a mobile scrap yard with a license to pick up scrap from remote locations.The 2nd site is for a local scrap yard. The texts and design / code are different on the sites, but the keyword kernel is actually 100% similar.
The problem is that I observe something like a cannibalization: for some keywords only one website is visible in Google top-10. The stronger becomes one site, the lower goes the 2nd one and vice versa. It is especially clear with geo queries (containing “near me”, “where”, etc.).
Let me demonstrate that relation on the graphs. Blue points are the positions of the 1st site and orange points are the 2nd site (position 30/31 means any 30+ position actually).
**A few notes as a post scriptum - some factors that could affect SERPs:

  • Pack of backlinks for the 1st site was obtained at the beginning of January 2018.
  • Pack of backlinks for the 2nd site was obtained at the end of June 2018.
  • Extended Google Update was on January 21, 2018.
You can find smth like point clusters as well as cycles here:

cache.php?img=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2FpyZvR8iIbDqM8fw9JHZL04ddLTlOdvllCi_1YOQ53x3Jya1BB9629LAngQqDoQqWEa92FjjPlu55ILmnvl4yddlktFG111Xtz0i4HoREmXKMmz2Mde8GVGPDoRjnFJD3MnQ-BWC6
Another example. Again clusters here - in 2017 the 2nd site was on top, then both disappeared, then the 1st appeared. Now seems to be another cycle - the 2nd site is back (or both will disappear):
cache.php?img=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com%2FN4d6D_T-aWAWkodn2WcKn0zyFD_cguprKeYFprlnp88lEyKWYvfXsedEQS_N-wXOLnC40rpTevBS5naOd5EY7Tnd2DMMgJ4CL0JyeVyWL_P6XKK7WNH-8ZVgCljH5pUvg3h-igoB
Example-3. There’s more historical data. It plays a little bit against my theory until the end of 2017 - both sites had positions in top-10-15. Then site-1 occupied top-5 and site-2 went out of top-10:
cache.php?img=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2FTLzstccKsp8MFCLJ5Z9k4iA49T-0kTrOs_RSzhARFAHcyVc1j2ushUjrD-AXS7In4KZQtq9MgdqdstFaixeowwyrcvp4Db2vZ-MG5JuX13L55KVppCUYxogTvjHNi1j1bmfCQD3I


So, high positions for one of the site go along with low positions of the 2nd site.
I didn’t find this kind of case on the English-language Internet (and I did not find anything regarding Google at all), but there is a lot of information about this kind of case in Russian SE Yandex: sites ranked for the same keywords and belonging to the same people are called “affiliates”. Yandex leaves in top only one such site. Moreover, such sanctions are actually manual (imposed by a Yandex employee, not by an algorithm). This is the info of 2015 - as long as I know Yandex doesn’t act like this now, but it used to. Well, there are no manual sanctions in Google, but I guess that this is an algorithm in action.

Here is some more important information for deeper understanding.
In our case, one owner for both sites can obvious for Google to penalize on of the site:

  • first, close physical addresses in Google Business and in the sites’ contacts. Although, in GMB 1st company address is like “Suburb, CA 90000, United States”, and the 2nd is “00000 Somewhere St, Suburb, CA 90000, United States”,
  • second - one account in AdWords Express and Google Business for both businesses;
  • third, in the directories like Yelp there is the same email indicated like info@site-1.com (the same addresses as well). Well, at least the phones are different ... It's not a fact that all of the above affects affiliation but nonetheless…
This is how it looks at AdWords Express:
cache.php?img=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2F3R8qClgsrmmiVC6YxuSu93MMYcFMTvkvqHb36QPTIjSyYLUh7nztyDleqHrMyJilDmqvQ_fXs-Spqzd5uFlhfBTzIkeBX-8IpSKGojBYr5iARxCtl6Sf8_muCewhdR2h--9vL-I4
Or like this:
cache.php?img=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com%2FRejRjO2_jafn8ps1aGdTN-TOPm0uxJ_XsEASxCOduFEBhK-GOwOj0QHfGhCZyqHjq2LYwi90SUwnX7j26vlg2QQPyFNw3ychdt9AaRuSDAdghHLaOkzHJuaK01sBa3OP6CUmjgoI
What to do.
1. We can add another physical address for the Company-1. It will have to be confirmed in Google My Business. Probably, we can even make it in a nearby ZIP to cover a larger territory. I doubt that this will help.
2. If it will not help, we will have to create a separate account that is not related to the old account owner in Google and transfer the rights to the My Business page to another person.

My questions.
Did you ever experience a “cannibalization” / “affiliation” like this? How did you solve it? Any special thoughts / advice? I’ve got paranoia? Maybe :) Did anyone optimize 2+ websites like this? I can’t make the 2nd site stay in TOP...

 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Doe,

Thanks for going into so much detail, really helps us to help you!

Google often does filter out businesses it believes are too similar or are owned by the same company. Google is also really good at making connections and KEEPING them, so likely any attempt to try to make it seem like 2 sep companies won't work.

Here's my vote and probably not what you or owner want to hear, but IMO it's the best solution. Combine both sites into one, keeping the one that has strongest DA, ranks best etc.

People often think "divide and conquer" is a smart way to play the Google game.
In reality "united we stand" is almost always a better solution.

If you consolidate all the energy that you are putting into the 2 sites now (like backlinks, onsite optimization, content design etc.) into one site, it could be almost twice as strong.

Or look at it this way, take the energy you would have put into trying to fool Google into thinking these sites are for different companies and should both rank, into consolidating and redesigning the one new strong site. Then maybe instead of ranking an 8 and a 25, you rank a strong #1 or 2.

Google will like everything much better and I think it would be fairly easy to make it clear to visitors that you offer 2 distinct services. Sounds like the main question is do you want mobile service or a local drop off location.

For sure they should only have one GMB listing. The rule is one per company per location. And unless I'm reading this wrong that is the situation here. Does not matter what the address looks like on public Google maps. Google knows what you are entering in the dash which needs to be the real, correct address, which would be the same for both correct?

That's my 2 cents anyway. Does this make sense?

Hopefully others will weigh in, but you may not hear too much til tomorrow when the work week begins again.
 

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