I often come across new clients who have paid a web developer to create multiple sites under multiple domain names. In fact we recently started on a local Houston inbound marketing strategy for a client and came across this same issue. We won’t mention any names, but for this example, let’s say the client’s business name is J. Smith Architects. They do architectural work in Houston and have 3 main websites on three domains:
(For those of you who don’t know, one of Houston’s nicknames is Bayou City)
They also have 5 other domains that are set to redirect to one of the 3 domains. The intentions behind multiple websites are great and actually very common. Many people believe the advantages of multiple sites are more keywords for better rankings, more domain names for a better chance to be ranking higher, and a "the more the merrier" mentality that more sites will make their online presence greater. So, it makes sense that the thought of having multiple sites provides some sort of search engine indexing advantage for better rankings and to ultimately be found more online.However, this is not the case. In fact, having multiple websites can be the downfall of your online presence. Here’s why:
Duplicate Content & Search Engine Ranking Issues
Duplicate Content Issues
If you have more than one site that is serving a similar purpose you most likely have most of the same content on each of those sites. You may be thinking this is saving you time by being able to copy / paste content from one site to the other and build up your online presence simultaneously. This might seem like a good idea, but Google sees duplicate content from one site to another and actually penalizes it. Its algorithm will find these sites and look at them as having a poor user experience, and your sites are going to actually rank lower in the search engines. Thus doing exactly the opposite of what you were hoping for. Your solution for this would be to create unique content on each site, but let's discuss this further:
Search Engine Ranking Issues
It’s still not a great idea to have multiple websites with slightly different content because they will compete with each other to rank in the search engine results pages (SERPS). For example, J. Smith Architects could have a keyword concentration on “Houston architects” within both NorthHoustonArchitects.com and BayouCityArchitects.com and as a result, both sites will compete for attention in the search engines when someone searches this term. It is always a better solution to spend all marketing efforts on one of those sites to optimize its rankings. Learn more about Search Engine Optimization.
- Having more than one Google Places (Business Page) that is similar but with slightly different names is frowned upon.
- Link building is great for increasing search rankings and if you have multiple sites you would need to decide which site to work on “link building”. One-thousand quality links to one website is better than 100 links to 10 separate sites.
Time & Effort
Unless you are a large corporation with multiple sub brands and multiple marketing departments, then chances are you shouldn’t be spending your time on any more than one brand and one website. As you know, it takes a lot of time and ample amounts of effort to just market one website properly. If you are a small team or even an individual then this is not an efficient use of time.
Coming from a web development background, I know the time it takes to build a great website. If you are building and maintaining three sites then you will be constantly doing one of those two all of the time, and never spend enough time, or even get to, your marketing efforts. The technology that powers the Internet are ever evolving and what you are doing today will most likely be out of date within one year.
For example, responsive web design is now a standard when developing new websites. Responsive web design allows your website to adapt to its viewing environment and provides an optimal user experience for phones, tablets, and desktops of any size. This methodology behind new site development wasn’t even labeled until 2010.
Your website’s design is just a part of the time and effort necessary to keep your online presence updated. As search engines grow smarter, they are increasingly rewarding sites that have fresh, keyword-rich content. The best practice for consistently adding content is to add a blog to your site and post regularly about your industry. It should be well thought out, educational content, which takes time to plan and create. When we create our inbound marketing plans, we create a complete content marketing calendar based on our client’s buyer personas. This is a time consuming practice that is necessary for online growth, and could easily take up all of your marketing time on its own. You can clearly see marketing results from blogging when you consistently start to posting. There is no doubt you’ll get better results and more focused visitors by blogging 5 times a week vs one. Now multiply that by 3 sites and you can see the problem in managing time and effort efficiently.
Let’s go back to our example client, J. Smith Architecture. If a potential customer is searching for Houston architectural companies and finds NorthHoustonArchitects.com as well as BayouCityArchitects.com, they may see similar content and be confused as to if they are the same company. When searching businesses people want to work with honest, transparent companies. Multiple sites can lead to a loss of trust and someone ultimately skipping over both sites, or questioning whom they are working with. This is not an ideal way to build long lasting customer relationships. With 9 out of 10 people beginning their search for goods and services online your time is better spent perfecting one website, and one brand.
Instead of wasting time, effort, and money building and maintaining multiple websites, dedicate yourself to marketing one website and one brand. Build a complete inbound marketing strategy. Concentrate on solidifying your messaging, building out your buyer personas, and creating new and fresh content. This will help your business not only stand out as a professional, honest and transparent business, but also you will see tremendous growth in your online presence.
What Do I Do With The Other Sites?
You will want to redirect all domains to your single domain of choice. If you need help selecting which domain is most useful to build your inbound marketing strategy around, get a free business assessment and we will help.
Additionally, make sure all of your site pages are 301 redirected (moved permanently) to point to your related pages on your selected domain. For instance, your About Us page on an old site should redirect to the About Us page on the selected domain. You can learn more about redirects at MOZ here.