Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of brands that have multiple domains, particularly local companies. I get it. Well, sort of. These guys figure more separate websites will equal a greater web presence, so they have a different domain for different locations and even services. What they don’t realize is that spreading out across multiple domains actually works against them for several reasons.
I’ve written about duplicate content once or twice. It’s a pretty interesting sh*t show, especially because so many webmasters don’t even realize that their pages are duplicated at times. When one brand has multiple websites, each featuring a specific location or service, there’s likely going to be duplication. Brands usually don’t want to write unique content for each domain (after all, content creation is expensive), so they often have the same company description, philosophy, and paragraph for similar or even identical products. This means you’re making the Google bots do the same job twice. And that’s not cool. They will lash back by making the sites really difficult to find online. It will hurt. If you insist on keeping your many domains, at least fix the du-co.
Diluted Link Juice
The way websites are perceived to be valuable by search engines is through the number of links they receive from outside sources. A link is essentially a thumbs up, so naturally, more referrals signify a quality website. Google strongly takes well-liked sites into consideration when dishing out results for users. We call the power of these links “link juice.” The problem with having multiple domains, though, is that outside sources don’t necessarily know which of the many dot-coms of your brand to link to. So rather than reaping the full benefits of inbound links, the “link juice” is divvied up among however many domains exist.
It’s confusing for users to search a brand in Google and be served a full page (or more) of different domains to choose from. More than anything, it’s annoying. Stop confusing your visitors. Give them one site to love.
Pain to maintain
As SEOs, we’re constantly barking at our clients to create helpful, fresh content. Write blog posts! Assemble case studies! Update your pages! Why? Visitors love it, and the search engines view such sites as authoritative, proactive domains. But you can imagine how difficult it must be to publish new, unique content across multiple domains. It’s pretty much impossible when they are all for the same brand. You’ll quickly grow exhausted fixing errors, updating metadata, and cranking out new content strategies. More than likely, you’ll give up altogether because you’re not a magician. And that’s okay. (The not-being-a-magician part. Not the giving up part.)
So in conclusion…
I’m sure there are times when having more than one domain for your brand can work in your favor. Companies have been successful in this effort, and for that I shrug my shoulders. The problem arises when you start scooping up domain names just to squeeze in location-based or service-specific keywords. If you can’t look your grandmother in the eyes and swear that each domain serves a unique, specific purpose, you should seriously consider clustering your digital real estate. A few redirects here and there, maybe some updated content creation, and you’ll be good to go. It’s hard enough to manage one site (for us, at least); you, customers, and those search bots will appreciate being able to find your brand at one stop. If you’re starting to worry about the state of your site, you might want to check out our SEO Audit or consultation services. We’re awesome at what we do, which is just one of many reasons why you will enjoy working with us. Check out our SEO Resources!