Once upon a time it was thought that businesses could get better search engine performance if they owned multiple keyword-rich URLs that open separate, optimized websites and link to their main business website. Now, there is more information about this approach. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision.
Yesterday I presented to a group of manufacturers who plan on growing their business through exports. Many of the business owners were savvy about search engine optimization, having worked on getting found online over the years. Some had even snapped up multiple keyword rich domain names to be better able to dominate the first page of search results. An example might be “ABCwidgets.com” as a main business website with additional keyword-rich domains such as “cheapwidgets.com,” “homewidgets.com,” and “commercialwidgets.com.”
Because the objective of the program was to grow through exports, the question as to whether or not the businesses should have separate sites for each country they export to – possibly with the content translated to the local country’s language – also came up. Using the above example, a business could choose to own and maintain ABCwidgets.de, ABCwidgets.fr, etc.
My gut said that multiple domains are not necessary nor are they the best choice for most manufacturers. I decided to do more research to better answer the question, and after careful consideration, I’m sticking to my answer!
In most situations, it’s better to optimize your main website and create keyword-rich sub-directory pages for some of the specialty items you sell and for the countries to which you export.
There are several reasons for this answer, and many other bloggers agree. See the links below for some of the expert posts I consulted in my research.
1. Duplicate content is not good for search engine performance. It is a big, “no-no” for Google. So, if you have multiple domains, you better have something different (and interesting and compelling) to say on your separate, keyword-rich domain.
2. Flat, one-page “websites” are often used for spamming purposes and are not ranked well by Google. If you do have additional keyword-rich domains, you better have some interesting content on them that is different from your main site. Case studies, photos and testimonials that are specific to the keywords you used are some content ideas for the additional domains.
3. Multiple domains require more work and more expense. With multiple domains you will need to pay for hosting and keep up the search engine performance on each one.
4. Multiple domains are confusing to visitors. Don’t for a moment think that you are pulling one over on your website visitors with multiple domains that redirect to your main site. Some savvy web users can even be turned off by this tactic. Or, if they’re not that savvy, they may be just plain confused.
5. You may compete with the search performance of your main website. Not only do you have to optimize each website, you may dilute the performance of your main site SEO.
One of the sites I consulted mentioned that a good reason to maintain an additional domain and website for your business is when you operate in multiple countries as mentioned above. In general, I disagree with that. I think that building subdomains or subdirectories and then directing visitors to the appropriate pages by country or language when they land on your website makes more sense. If you have a joint venture with an in-country partner, it may make sense to create a new site in a different language. Otherwise, focus on your main business site and make it perform well.
Do you need help with export marketing or your online presence, so you can get found internationally? Contact New Incite today. We are business marketing experts with both traditional and online marketing experience.
I referenced these posts in my research – SEO.com on having Multiple Domains, Hubspot’s take on Multiple Websites for Business, Search Engine Watch on Single vs. Multiple Domains.
Photo by Milos Milosevic on Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.