One new client  bought two domain names, one for their business and one for their family and personal life.  Let’s say one domain is (for business) and the other is (for personal).

He started his business web site and took advantage of the offer of the hosting company to point the address of his future family web to the business site.  That is, you see the same pages whether you go to or .  “Great!” he thought. His business will get double listings in Google and other search engines until he’s ready to put up family photos and whatever on his personal site.

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t give double listings to content it finds at different addresses on the Internet.

In fact, if Google notices the duplication of content, it will take one of these three bad actions:

1. In the worse case, Google will suspect that the two sites are both sleazy cheats.  Google will see the duplicated material as the work of lazy webmasters up to no good.  Google hates copied pages, and it may ban both sites completely from its result pages.  That means neither site will show up in any search results.

2. Google will decide that one of the duplicated sites is real and the other is a cheat.  How Google picks the “real” one is not known.  Google will then ban the one they identified as a cheat.  There’s a 50-50 chance that Google will ban the business site and decide that the placeholder family site is the one that should show up in search results.

3. In the best bad case, Google will DIVIDE the ranking of each duplicated page.  If the home page would normally show up as #1 for a search of “blue widgets”, Google would adjust the importance of both sites’ home pages and will display them in position #30 or worse.  In addition, in the search results for SOME phrases, the business’ site page will show up higher than the duplicated content on the personal site.  For other phrases, the personal site’s pages will show up above the exact same business page. It’s a genuine mash-up.

Basically, this “free” pointing of the home site to the business site is a serious problem for someone interested in getting traffic from Google.

Apparently the hosting service thinks it’s doing my client a service by letting people access the one set of web pages by using either site address.  In reality, they’re hurting the client’s chance of showing up in a good position in Google.

I have no fancy workarounds to talk about or options to suggest.  Simply, if you’re offered the chance to point two domains to the same content, just don’t do it!