Mirror Sites

Last night Josepha and I were creating a strategy for a client who wants to do well for some new keywords. These are brand new keywords for him, related to a new section of his website, and we’ve just begun working on it. Still, it seemed to us that he should have been doing better than he currently is.

Accordingly, we went poking around to see if we could see anything that might be an obstacle for him.

General poking around is something worth doing sometimes. Often, when you’re looking for specific information, you zoom right in on it too quickly to notice side issues that might have some value for you.

In this case, we were startled to see a mirror site.

A mirror site is an exact copy of another site, at a different URL. There are valid reasons for setting up a mirror site, most of them having to do with handling large traffic volume or international downloads. They can be set up and identified as mirror sites quite properly.

That’s not what we were seeing here. We were looking at an exact copy of the original site. The code was messed up and the meta language was different (and not nearly as good, let me tell you), but the site was otherwise the same.

This is not a good thing. Occasionally, people set these up themselves, in innocence, thinking it’s a good way to get more for your money. Here’s what can happen, if you have a mirror site:

  • You can be penalized by the search engines, if it seems that you’ve plagiarized or just been sneaky.
  • Search engines can simply choose one of the sites as the “real” one — not necessarily the one you’d want them to choose, either.
  • Google can remove one as duplicate content or copyright violation.

Report plagiarized sites  to Google if you find that someone has copied your site in this way. While in this case Google could determine from the underlying code that ours is the real one and the other an inferior copy, that’s not always the case. Therefore, you should make certain to report the mirror site before the plagiarist reports your original site.

If you did it yourself, not realizing that this is bad form, take the mirror site down. If you want to have more than one domain for your website (again, something you can do for good reasons, including common misspellings of your business name), a 301 redirect is the correct way to handle it. Have your webmaster do that for you.

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