Are you looking for ways to improve your SEO efforts? Maybe some of your web pages already have top rankings, but you know you can do better if only you had the right strategy.
If you already have a strong SEO strategy and you’re getting decent results, you can bring your SEO game to the next level using multiple domains.
The multiple domain name strategy is actually the “big secret” many brands use to dominate the search engines without being obvious. For example, 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’ 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.
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 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 website #1, website #3, and website #4. Owning 3 search results on the first page of any search phrase is a big deal.
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 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.
Using 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 websites. 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 content and authority to provide the fuel.
The perfect example of a transition from a 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.
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 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 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, with a multiple domain 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.
Everyone will benefit from using 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 domain names with specific country code extensions to rank in those countries specifically in addition to using global TLDs like .com and .net.
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 SEO strategy, you’ll need to create unique content and get it to rank in the search engines. For each new domain you use, you’re essentially building a brand-new website from the ground up.
To create your foundation for an effective multiple domain strategy, start with these 8 steps:
Aside from creating massive amounts of high-quality content, your biggest task will be choosing and acquiring your domain names.
Every domain name you own should be:
Other embarrassing domain name misinterpretations can come from 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.
Sometimes it’s worth looking into buying expired domains or domains up for sale. Before finalizing any purchase for a ‘used’ domain name, make sure it hasn’t been blacklisted or de-indexed from Google. You can check the status of any domain name with this blacklist testing tool.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
While your overall subject matter will be the same for all of your 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.
Each new domain needs to be its own brand. This means making separate logos, using different color schemes, and using different 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:
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.
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 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.
You’ll need to perform basic 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:
On-page SEO tasks include:
Off-page SEO tasks include:
The long-term benefits of using multiple domains for 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.
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 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.
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 the 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, 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.
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, Link.Build and PPC.co. Each includes an offering unique enough that we felt it warranted a separate domain, content and content promotion plan.
If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, we want to partner with you. 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.