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  • How to Use Multiple Domain Names for SEO

    How to Use Multiple Domain Names for SEO

    The multiple domain name strategy is actually the “big secret” many brands use to improve their SEO and dominate the search engines without being obvious.

    We do it:

    • SEO.co
    • DEV.co
    • PPC.co
    • Link.Build
    • Website.Design
    • Marketer.co

    When you search for real estate listings, you probably get results from Zillow and Trulia. These two websites are owned by the same corporation. When pages from both websites turn up in search results, it doubles the parent corporation’s chances of getting clicks.

    This strategy is one of the best SEO secret weapons you could possibly employ. However, it won’t provide instant gratification and requires planning. Using multiple domains for SEO is a long-term strategy that requires a serious long-term commitment.

    If you have the resources, time, and drive to follow through with a multiple domain SEO strategy, this article will help you get started.

    How to use a multiple domain names strategy for SEO?

    The multiple domain strategy is when a person or organization owns multiple websites hosted on different domain names all within the same competing niche. For example, a company that sells wood stoves might own five websites selling the same products, but each same site has a unique design, unique content, and might even have a unique primary focus.

    Regardless, in the above example, all five websites would be competitors in the same wood stove market, and all web pages would be competing for the same keywords and phrases in the search engines.

    With good SEO, that company has a good chance at getting more of their pages ranked in the search engines. For example, the first page of results for a given search phrase might return a page from single website #1, website #3, and main website #4. Owning 3 search results on the first page of any search phrase is a big deal.

    The best reason to use multiple domains? Keyword domination

    Multiple domains for SEO is the best long-term strategy when you want to dominate the SERPs for a specific keyword. If a large corporation hasn’t already dominated the SERPs, you still have a chance. However, you probably won’t dominate for the top competitive keywords like ‘cars’ or ‘real estate’ or ‘weight loss.’ You can, however, dominate the SERPs for more long tail keywords in those industries.

    In other words, using all the multiple domains isn’t a magic solution. You still need to play by the rules of SEO, and huge brands with enormous marketing budgets will always dominate generic keywords in their industry.

    Why bother with multiple domains? Why not rank content on one domain?

    How to Use Multiple Domain Names for SEO potential customers

    Using buy multiple domain names for SEO exponentially increases your power to become visible in the search engines. Having multiple ranking domains increases the likelihood that a user will click on a search result from one of your one website. It’s even better than having high-ranking web pages from one domain.

    But, a multi-domain strategy will take years to come to fruition unless you already have the duplicate content and authority to provide the fuel.

    The perfect example of a transition from a one website or single domain to multi-domain strategy is About.com. About.com transitioned into DotDash a number of years ago, splitting it’s existing trove of quality content into multiple websites, including brands you might be familiar with: Investopedia, Lifewire and TheBalance.

    The company’s bet on it’s content and a multi-domain strategy has been a huge success after the company rebranded into a multiple domain strategy in 2017.

    Multiple domain names can also act as a diversification mechanism in preparing for the next Google update.

    The SERPs don’t regularly display two results from the same domain?

    There’s something interesting about search results that many people don’t notice. When you search for a keyword or phrase, you’re unlikely to be given multiple results from the same domain name.

    With few exceptions, search engine algorithms are programmed not to display two or more results from the same domain name when other options are available. Sometimes it happens, but only when a domain name has two web pages that are equally strong and there are no other high-ranked competing web pages from a different domain.

    Most of the time, Google filters out additional pages from the same more than one domain because the algorithm tends to favor domain diversity. And that’s exactly why you need to use multiple domains for SEO.

    For example, if you go to Google or other search engines and search for ‘buy a new car’ you’ll probably get two results from several big websites like autotrader.com, cars.usnews.com, and carsdirect.com. However, those websites are big brands that pull some serious weight in the search engines. Although it’s possible, you probably won’t see more than one of your webpages in the SERPs – at least not in succession.

    You might have web pages from a single domain name that rank #3, #14, and #22, but you’ll probably never get multiple webpages from the same domain name to rank #1, #2, #3, and #4.

    However, when using multiple domain names as an SEO strategy, it’s easier to own the #1, #2 and possibly even the #3 and #4 spots in the SERPs for a given search phrase.

    Who benefits from using multiple domain names for SEO?

    Everyone will benefit from using to buy multiple domain names for SEO. You don’t need to be a large corporation or even a business. You could be an entrepreneur, a solopreneur, a startup, or even a freelancer. If you have a web presence, you’ll benefit from using a multiple domain name strategy.

    You’ll also benefit from this strategy if you do business internationally. You can buy multiple domain names with specific country code extensions to rank in those countries specifically in addition to using global TLDs like .com and .net.

    How to start using the multiple domain strategy right now

    You can get your multiple-domain strategy up and running in a short period of time. However, it will take time to get results. For each new domain name you add to your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, you’ll need to create unique same content and get it to rank in the search engines. For each new domain you use, you’re essentially building a brand-new one website from the ground up.

    To create your foundation for an effective multiple domain strategy, start with these 8 steps:

    1. Choose your domain names intentionally

    Aside from creating massive amounts of high-quality content, your biggest task will be choosing and acquiring your domain names.

    Trust ratings for top level domains and company name

    2. Choosing a domain name

    Every domain name you own should be:

    • Short. Use three words max. The best  multiple domain names are one word even if that word isn’t a real word. For example, Zillow and Trulia are short domains and they’re not real words. However, they’re memorable, which brings up the next point.
    • Memorable. Your domain name should be memorable. People shouldn’t have to sit around and think to recall your domain name. It should be so memorable that people can announce it on the radio and listeners won’t need to write it down.
    • Original. Try to think outside the box for your domain name. It doesn’t have to match your brand. You can come up with something unique that gets the point across and is memorable at the same time.
    • Easy to read as intended. Some domain names can be read in ways other than intended. For example, ‘choosespain.com’ can be interpreted as ‘chooses pain’ rather than ‘Choose Spain’ and ‘nowhere.com’ can be interpreted as ‘Nowhere’ or ‘Now Here.’

    Other embarrassing domain name misinterpretations can come from other domains like ‘IPAnywhere.com’ or Axial.com, an adult toy company–not to be confused with Axial.net, a venture-backed fintech company that launched years prior to the .com. It’s the perfect example of being careful with your branding as you never know who might brand jack you.

    You really need to think hard before choosing a domain name.

    Look at the domain name spelled out in all lowercase letters and see if it can be interpreted as inappropriate or obscene. Better yet, pass the idea around to other people and ask them to make fun of your domain and see what they come up with. If it’s too easy to make fun of, you should probably choose a different domain name.

    Heed these 5 cautions regarding buying domain names

    1. Always check the blacklist status of expired domain names

    Sometimes it’s worth looking into buying expired domains or domains up for sale. Before purchasing multiple domains or an expensive ‘used’ domain name, make sure it hasn’t been blacklisted or de-indexed from Google and/or other search engines. You can check the status of any domain name with this blacklist testing tool.

    originating countries of malicious ip addresses mentioned earlier

    If a site has been blacklisted by Google, or if it’s considered ‘unsafe,’ it was probably used by spammers in the past. While you can file an appeal to get your site un-blacklisted, the baggage you’ll have to deal with isn’t worth managing. For instance, if your domain has been associated with a phishing scheme in the past, your domain might already be blocked by valid email providers and individuals.

    The benefit to buying expired domain names is that you might come across a domain that has a high Domain Authority (DA) or Page Authority (PA). If you find an expired domain name with a high DA or PA, you’ll have an easier time getting that domain to rank.

    2. Always check the backlink profile of an expired domain

    Expired domains often have a trail of backlinks, but are they any good? Make sure any expired domain name you buy doesn’t have a spammy backlink profile. You can use this handy backlink checker tool from Ahrefs.

    If you buy a domain with a terrible backlink profile and that domain is being suppressed by the search engines, you’ll have a hard time gaining momentum. An expired domain with no backlink profile is better than one with a bad backlink profile.

    Another way to get information about an expired domain is to get an SEO site audit from a professional SEO company.

    3. Avoid exact match domains if possible

    It sounds strange to say that you should avoid buying domain names that are an exact match to your keywords, but Google has now discounts the ranking capabilities of exact match domains. In the past, having an exact match domain was more of a competitive advantage. Today, it can sometimes mean it will take you longer to rank.

    While Google claims the penalty only affects exact match domains with low quality content, it’s hard to tell the full impact of the exact match domain (EMD) update.

    4. Stick to the .com extension whenever possible

    The best domain name extension will always be .com, but you might find yourself short on options.

    You may have heard that a domain name’s extension doesn’t impact your ability to rank web pages in the SERPs. That’s mostly true, but there are some exceptions. For example, most main domain names with country code extensions don’t rank globally.

    Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) tell search engines your content is for a specific country or region. If you buy a domain name with the .fr extension, search engines will automatically rank your site in France and your content won’t turn up in most U.S.-based searches.

    There are some exceptions to the automated geographical designation. Since many people started using some ccTLDs as generic domains (like .tv and .me), Google reprogrammed their search algorithm to treat a handful of country codes as generic other domains.

    You can also use code to tell Google that your content is for a specific geographic region, but unless you have a really good reason to buy a ccTLD, it’s better to stick to .com.

    5. Document your preferred settings along the way

    If you’re using a multiple domain name strategy, you’re going to be building out several websites. Whether you build out two or ten additional sites, you’re looking at investing an incredible amount of time to set up each site.

    Just go down the list and check off each task and setting. Or, you can outsource all the setup.

    Launching one site gives you a template for additional websites

    One of the peripheral benefits of using a multiple domain name strategy for SEO is the opportunity to create a system for launching new websites quickly. Once you’ve published one site, you can document the process and turn it into a repeatable system for creating and launching additional websites with little effort.

    Once you have a well-documented repeatable system for building sites to your standards, you can outsource the majority of tasks and launch more sites even faster. For example, say you build sites exclusively in WordPress. There’s a lot of ground work to lay for launching a WordPress site. For instance, you have to:

    • Create a database and database user
    • Generate new SALT keys
    • Secure your WordPress installation with multiple, time-consuming steps
    • Set permalinks, reading options, and writing options
    • Password-protect your site while under development
    • Customize theme options
    • Customize CSS files
    • Install and configure your routine SEO plugins
    • Setup automated backups
    • And more

    All of the above tasks can be easily documented and turned into a system you can outsource. Once you know exactly how you want your foundation, you can hand it off to someone else to implement.

    Building additional websites quickly will help your multiple domain SEO strategy

    The faster you can build additional sites, the sooner you’ll start ranking webpages from additional domains. Having a documented system for all your required steps is the fastest way to get your new sites built and launched.

    1. Do more research

    There are three areas of research you need to perform: keyword research, competitor research, and market research.

    You’ve done plenty of research for your original site, and that’s valuable data. However, it’s a good idea to revisit your research when launching new websites to make sure you’re up to speed. While your market may not change, you might have new competitors and there might be a fluctuation in search phrases.

    Since search trends can change over time, do more keyword research to get the most up-to-date data in your niche.

    You might find a new competitor that has caused an increase in certain branded keyword searches that you can leverage in product reviews.

    2. Plan your content creation

    With each new site, plan your content just as you planned your original content. You may want to plan your content by splitting up the types of content you need, like:

    • Landing pages
    • PPC ad copy
    • General articles to reach a general audience
    • Medium to advanced level articles
    • Ultimate guides using long pieces of content
    • Tutorials for DIY-style content
    • Content you’ll publish on other websites for content marketing

    When planning your content, it’s also a good idea to plan your anchor text in advance so you don’t overuse branded or exact match anchor text.

    3. Find a sub-niche you can focus on with each domain

    While your overall subject matter will be the same for all of your owning multiple domain names, it’s helpful to find a sub-niche you can focus on with each additional website. This way, you can rank for the main keywords and start ranking for more long tail keywords.

    4. Create each website as a new brand

    Each new and main domain needs to be its own brand. This means making separate logos, using different color schemes, and using different one website layouts.

    Make sure each site looks entirely different from the others. Don’t use the same layout for all of your sites even if you can customize the template. For example, if you have four different websites, you could create the following unique presentation styles:

    • Site #1 is an industry blog that features products in the articles
    • Site #2 is a professional looking site with ecommerce capabilities and a blog
    • Site #3 is presented as a personal blog
    • Site #4 is an ecommerce site like site #2, but looks completely different

    Visitors should never be able to guess that all of your sites are owned by the same company just by looking at the design. People will eventually figure it out, and that’s fine. You just don’t want your sites to look like clones.

    5. Use 301 redirects sparingly

    If you’ve purchased existing sites from other people or you have old sites you want to use with your strategy, you may want to redirect people to your main site. If you do this, be sure to use 301 redirects to preserve link juice. 301 redirects are permanent, whereas 302 redirects are temporary. Never use a 302 redirect for this strategy! You won’t preserve any link juice.

    Even though you can use 301 redirects, if a one website is already functional, gets traffic, and ranks, you can probably just spruce up the design and optimize the site further. Don’t use redirects unless you absolutely must send visitors to your main website.

    6. Focus on fundamental SEO

    You’ll need to perform basic search engine optimization (SEO) on all of your websites to give your multiple domain strategy a good foundation. This involves working with three main areas of SEO: technical, on-page, and off-page optimization.

    Technical SEO tasks include:

    • Mobile site optimization
    • Fixing 404 errors with 301 redirects
    • Creating sitemaps for search engines and humans
    • Optimizing site speed
    • Fixing typos and HTML/CSS errors

    On-page SEO tasks include:

    Off-page SEO tasks include:

    What are the long-term benefits of using multiple domains for SEO?

    The long-term benefits of using purchasing multiple domains for search engine optimization (SEO) are clear. The more high-ranking websites you own, the more often your resources will pop up in the search results.

    If you own multiple websites with pages that rank for the same keywords, and you can get those pages to rank high, you’ll dominate the SERPs for your targeted keywords and phrases. The same site can rank for thousands of keywords for a single page, but owning multiple domain names means you can own more real estate on page one of Google.

    multiple domain names real estate google competitor's site
    Here’s an example from both SEO.co and PPC.co (another site we own) for the term “PPC management services”

    Long-term, you’ll generate more traffic, more sales, more leads, and more conversions. Your email list will grow exponentially and you’ll have more assets out there on the web for people to find. Provided you create amazing in-depth content, you’ll also start generating organic backlinks with multiple domains pointing to your site(s) as more people discover your content.

    The bottom line is that using multiple domains for SEO can quickly bring your brand into a position of authority in your niche, which ultimately means more sales.

    What are the possible pitfalls of using a multiple domain strategy?

    The most substantial pitfall of using multiple domains is not having the time, energy, or money to keep up your web resources. Technically, domain names are cheap, but if you require more than a shared hosting account, your hosting bill will grow. You’ll also need to spend time maintaining multiple sites or at least have the budget to outsource SEO tasks.

    Granted, when you launch a multiple domain strategy the idea is to eventually generate more money from having multiple websites, but that takes time. You’ll need a solid budget that will carry you until you see results.

    In addition, owning multiple domain names means you’re diluting your efforts for building domain authority.

    It’s easier to rank one site for multiple key phrases if that site already has authority, than it is to rank multiple lower authority sites for similar phrases. Focusing your efforts if the niche is similar is a better strategy for most companies.

    Incidentally, you can check your page and domain authority with our free bulk DA checker.

    We can help you launch and run your multiple domain strategy

    If the idea of using multiple domains sounds exciting, but you’re not sure how to get started, we can help.

    We operate a multi-domain and multi-entity strategy with SEO.co, DEV.co and PPC.co. Each includes an offering unique enough that we felt it warranted separate domain, content and content promotion plan apart from our primary separate domain.

    Our team of SEO experts have helped many businesses in a variety of industries set up, track, and improve their SEO strategy, including assisting in your domain valuation or domain name financing.

    If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, we want to partner with you on your main domain and all the domains on your web server.

    Contact us today and we’ll set up a time to discuss your project and determine how we can implement a multiple domain name strategy to give your business a strong SEO boost.

    VP of Business Development at SEO Company
    Ryan Nead is the Vice President of Business Development at search engine optimization services company, SEO.co. Ryan has spent the last 10 years as a digital marketing consultant working with enterprise clients and top brands on digital marketing initiatives that drive digital results. He has worked with brands like Smashburger, Fatburger, PHH Mortgage and Con-Way (now XPO Logistics). He resides in Texas with his wife and three children.
    Ryan Nead