Microsites with unique content but same host

Consider the situation of a large business with many branches, using the strategy of microsites to increase its Internet footprint. Each microsite, associated with a particular branch, is similar to the main site, but its content has been made thoroughly unique to avoid duplication. Will it make any difference to Google that the sites are hosted on the same IP and obviously owned by the same company? Remember, I am not talking about cross-linking here, just duplicate penalties.

  1. You’re not cross-linking
  2. Content is unique, therefore no duplication

1 + 2 = fine

Well, the sites will be cross-linked in the event, but that isn’t the point. Do you think I should nofollow the cross-links to avoid the appearance of a lame link-building scheme?

If they’re all crosslinked together then it is quite possible that you could trip a filter, remember that humans don’t make these decisions (generally), algorithms do, so what looks ok to a person may not look so ok to a computer.

Seeing as you are essentially creating these sites to game the search engines

using the strategy of microsites to increase its Internet footprint

then you could get burned for it.

So, what’s your opinion? Will using rel=“nofollow” on the cross-links show Google that my intentions are only the best?

  1. As for duplication penalty
    Since “its content has been made thoroughly unique”, there is no penalty, no bad effect at all.

Actual duplication would cause more likely lower ranking or no indexation than real penalty.

  1. Cross-linking “affiliated” sites.

“Affiliated” sites here are domain names which have been bought by the same owner, and/or sites hosted in the same IP and/or significantly cross-linked,…

Cross-linking affiliated sites does not cause penalty nor other bad effect, it just causes the related links to be a bit less powerful (as for SEO) than independent links.

The issue is relevant only when the micosites are created only to push up the main site’s ranking.

Putting the related links on a no follow basis won’t push up the main site’s ranking at all.