John Mueller from Google responded to the query of whether or not Google penalizes almost identical sites. Mueller gave instances of various degrees of site similarity and recommended which one to avoid.
Will Google Rank Websites with the Same Design?
Whether two websites with similar looks might nonetheless rank in Google search was the question that was posed. Although it wasn’t mentioned, John also mentioned that possibility in his response.
The query posed was as follows:
“For our two brands, we want to use the same backend and frontend.
With both of them, we’re performing well in Google rankings.
How much of a chance is there that using the same HTML structure, components, layout, and look and feel across various brands may result in a penalty?
The colours, typefaces, and logos would all be altered.
Or would you advise sticking with the current front end while maintaining the two companies’ distinct experiences?”
No penalty for a site that looks similar.
John Mueller affirmed that if two websites have a striking resemblance, their ranking in the search results won’t suffer as a result.
He stated: “First off, having two almost similar websites is neither punishable nor subject to human action for web spam.”
He then discussed Google’s policy for handling websites with identical URL structures and content.
He continued, saying: “Nevertheless if the URLs and the content of the pages are the same on both websites, our computers may choose one of the pages to serve as the canonical page.
In this case, the canonical page would be the main focus of our crawling, indexing, and ranking efforts.
We often index both pages for non-identical pages.
If you had the identical document on both websites, for instance, we would choose only to display that one in search.
That usually works out in practice.
If you want two sites to appear in searches, make sure they differ considerably from one another rather than merely having a distinct logo or colour scheme.”
Google uses Canonicalization to handle Duplication
John’s response is intriguing since it sheds light on how Google approaches genuine instances of identically worded duplicate material.
When he states that it will canonicalize one version of the information in this instance, he implies that it will select that version to be used for ranking.
This can cause issues for websites that syndicate their website material, hence websites must mandate the usage of a cross-domain canonical by the publisher of syndicated content.
Why there is No Penalty
Up to 30% of the material online is duplicated, according to Matt Cutts, a Google search engineer at the time, who said that this is just the way things are on the Internet.
That figure was used by him to support his claim that Google does not punish duplicate material since doing so would cause innocent sites to drop in the results.
Is it punishable to have two websites that appear almost the same?
No, as long as the content is distinct from one another, is the appropriate response.
Watch the 11-minute mark of the Google After Hours hangout to see John Mueller’s response to the query concerning practically identical websites