A client asked us today….
Is it okay to have a .com and .ca version of the same web site? Or should we choose a completely different URL for the Canadian web site? Is this a big mistake for rankings?
The domain would not make much of a difference if the two sites look and sound the same. Having a .ca and a .com web site would be okay as long as the web sites are noticeably different and the .ca web site has Canadian focused content and is hosted on a Canadian IP address.
In addition to changing some of the content to make it more Canadian focused, error on the side of caution and give the two sites more uniqueness by changing some navigation items especially if they are html text based.
Be careful. Duplicate content issues can mess up rankings for both web sites so don’t risk it and try to make the two sites as different as possible.
Also, check out Google’s Duplicate Content info page:
It says ‘ Use top-level domains: To help us serve the most appropriate version of a document, use top-level domains whenever possible to handle country-specific content. We’re more likely to know that http://www.example.de contains Germany-focused content, for instance, than http://www.example.com/de or http://de.example.com.”
For example, when we search for ‘toyota’ in Google, the .ca web site is #1 but the .com web site is not in the top 30 results. In this case, the .ca and .com web sites are completely different and Google was able to recognize that the .ca domain has Canadian content.